I admit this car has its place... and it's not with me. I've driven quite a few cars and I would consider myself a "car guy", so I'm going to base my review on that.
Apart from the quite ugly exterior there's not much to talk about there. Upon entering the car you'll notice it sits VERY low to the ground and for a "family sedan" you would be surprised. A nice amenity it has is that it has power windows, and the amenities stop there. Although the interior has some decent soft touch plastics, you'll notice it's not very inviting. The look is very bland. One thing I'm surprised on is that it has no cupholders. The seats feel like you're sitting on an old sofa and the rear seats seem to be missing headrests. It has a radio with a tape player; so nothing out of place for that year of vehicle.
Now for the drive. The suspension feels okay, and I can say that's the best thing about the car. It's not so soft, but it does soak up a bit of the bumps in the road. Steering is quite bad and has very little direct response, but most people could live with it. Now, the acceleration is my main issue here: it feels like it has none. You practically have to floor it to even get moving to speed and there is just no enjoyment in driving this car. The brakes are also quite unresponsive.
If you actually enjoy driving this is NOT the car for you. If you could care less about what car you drive, want something cheap and to get to point A to point B I suppose this car is okay. But with how low it rides, how small it is, lack of cupholders and with the slow moving speeds I would say this isn't a good daily driver.
1998 COROLLA LE AUTOMATIC. I bought it in Sept 2012 with a confirmed 98K on the odometer with the intent of keeping it for MANY years to come. I drive 100 miles per day, so I want the ride quality top notch (well balanced). Due to this, I personally installed a new Bilstein suspension, including new "normal ride height" springs, all greasable good quality fittings, super heavy-duty inner tie rods and polyurethane bushings. I did this because the orig. suspension was sagging a bit making it tough to get over the bump at the foot of my driveway.
UPDATE 7/2016- All the greasable front-end parts wore out very quickly (within 2 years) so I replaced all the Mevotech X-Factor parts with ProForged parts. Just replaced the exhaust manifold and downpipe and ordered new wheels and tires. Did all this for its 200k birthday (and to pass inspection).
I bought this car 3 years ago with 193,000 for 500 dollars. I know crazy. It has never left me walking. I have done minor repairs, new distributor cap and new plugs and wires, new tires and battery. I drive this car 120 miles a day 4 days a week sometimes more. It now has 239,500 miles and I hope it keeps on going. It truly is a gem and I got a steal. It made my 500$ back long ago! I want another one! I drive a 4 door Dodge 3/4 ton diesel so tjis car saves me so much money running back and forth to work! Sometimes I'd really Rather be in my Toyota than that Dodge!
I was the third owner of this Base Corolla with 97,000 miles. It was a little beat up, but in great running condition. Had to put a timing belt on at 100,000 miles, put some speakers in the back"only came with two up front" and cd player. I have not had any mechanical problems, runs well and rides like a compact. The Clear Coat finish was flaking a bit on the roof and truck when I bought it and has continued, not sure if it pays to have it fixed. I payed $4800 in February 2009. Overall this car is nice, not very big and does not ride like our 96 Camry. Good cheap car.
Gas Millage, Very Reliable!
Fix the flaking clear coat finish, Cruise Control in the base model.
I bought this car in 2003, and it has been a solid, reliable purchase. No surprise there, as my first corolla (1981) lasted 14 years. The car is simply "a corolla"-built to last. I am surprised by the zip it has, and it handles very well through the corners, and is surprisingly quiet and smooth on the highway. In mixed driving, I get 32-36 mpg consistently. It's good for the daily commute, but I don't think I'd take it across country. Nonetheless the front seat is very comfy and it just has an all-around good feel to it. Paint has faded a bit off the back bumper, but otherwise, it still looks and feels great. I can't say enough good things about this car. Thought about selling it - but, naw!
Reliability and gas mileage. I've replaced the timing belt and water pump, re-did the front brakes, but those things are expected through 12 years. Easy to drive. Decent sized trunk for a compact. Hauls dirt pretty well, too. Really good AC. Heat is decent. Easy to change lights all around the car.
No intermittent wiper. Rear-defrost went bad at year 11, but can I complain? Wish it had a tachometer. Can't think of anything else you'd expect from a basic compact. It's a solid car that I am happy to own (and will probably continue to own for many more years).