I have had my 98 Toyota Corolla for 5 years now. I got it when I was 17 and it was the perfect first car. The compact size make the car easy to manuever. The strong braking has helped me avoid some near accidents. It's very easy to park, drive in the city. Believe it or not, it has good passing power. In 5 years I have never had anything serious go wrong ever. A few alignment issues, and now my AC/heat is acting up (at 95,000 miles). It's a comfortable ride even on long trips. The back seat space is a little tight, however. I would recommend this car highly for reliability and excellent gas mileage. 8 solid hours of highway driving before a tank refill.
Comfort, feeling in control, not intimidating, excellent gas mileage, very few problems with performance, heats up fast in the winter, automatic low level lights, it seems to be able to handle some pretty heavy abuse (I travel a lot).
Hydroplanes no matter how lightly you tap the gas when it is raining/snowing. Slow acceleration (be careful stopping at a yield if you have to pick up to a speed above 40 quickly). The cup holders don't seem to hold any cups (bad positioning/size)! Rattles in the cold.