I inherited my Corolla in 2004 with 114k miles shortly after moving away to college. It isnt sporty or sexy, but it was a far sight more reliable than the 1984 Grand Prix it replaced. The car now has 170k miles. In this time, aside from oil, tranny fluid, tires and brake pads all I have had replaced is the radiator, shocks/springs, and strut mounts. The radiator was actually still working fine, even with a whole rusted clear through it. But out of prudence, I decided to have it replaced. Gas mileage is great (24 city/32 highway), although I believe the newer Corollas are better with new technology. Not as good as a civic hatchback, but way more car. I have the 4 gear auto tranny.
Rock solid reliability. Fuel economy. Surprisingly comfortable interior for the price, I usually hate the inside of Japanese cars. Practical.
A larger engine option, I believe a 2.4 liter is available for 2009. Tighter suspension. Rear seats that fold down should be standard! Center arm rests. Seatbelts that retract!