The only hardware failure during our 13 years - still ongoing - experience was the failure of the master clutch cylinder (the Toyota dealership in Brunswick, GA installed a faulty one generic instead), leading to about $1700 in unreasonable, humiliating
I live in NYC, and find this vehicle to be the ideal city car. The combination of excellent reliability, compact-size and great maneuverability make this car a winner.
Between the horrible pothole ridden roads, stop and go traffic, excessive idling, and near-constant sudden breaking and my aggressive driving -- this car takes a beating,
However, in spite of the abuse, my Corolla starts up every time - and continues to run stronger than ever.
I currently have 140k on the car, and even with the abuse it takes from city driving fully expect it to last another 100k. I average about 6k miles driver a year, so I anticipate driving this car for the next 10+ years.
Excellent fuel economy. Top notch reliability.
Good stereo system for an economy car.
Cheap replacement parts.
Very low cost of repair at the shop.
Easy car for DIY maintenance.
Mass Airflow Sensor issues, there should be a recall issued for this.
Suspension is a bit soft.
We bought this car new in May 2001, we now have 135K miles on it and still love it! The only issues we have had to deal with was replacing the clutch at 95K (driver fault) and simple maintenance. The front brake pads lasted until 120K (I check them regularly). I still average about 31mpg when its all city driving and 36 when I commute on the highway. We could afford a new car, but I will drive this one until it's last mile, and would not hesitate to buy another. With that said it is not perfect and there are drawbacks like interior size, road noise, etc.. But I am a believer that those are little things while reliability and affordability are the things that are harder to come by.
UPDATE 2/29/2016: Still love this car, but recently had some transmission issue (manual). Had to have it rebuilt and continue to have issue with a seal. Partly my fault because I neglected to change the trans fluid and maybe just a fluke. We are going to part ways with it because of my 500 mile/week commute otherwise I would keep it as my main driver.
I just recently purchased my '01 Corolla S automatic for way under blue book with 116K miles on it and couldn't be happier. The handling, turn radius and overall feel of the car is so much more luxurious than that of my 1986 Corolla that I traded in years ago with 281K miles on it. Weird thing though was as soon as I got into the vehicle, it felt like I was sitting back in my 1986 model. Toyota has pretty much kept all the dials and switches in the same place, except for the radio, so I didn't have to "learn" anything new. Love the sunroof, the engine is super quiet and even though the exterior is typical Toyota boring, the interior is very nice. I'm happy with it.
bought it from a used dealer, 137k in 2009. 4yrs later its at 230k. Good on gas, no break downs, just needs gas and oil change. Manage your fluids. Toronto (401 and VP) to niagra on probably 6-7 gas. Friends tell me its ugly, but i tell them there ugly!
reliability and gas consump
I can live with it, foot space in the back.
May just a tiny bit better styling.
I am 5'11 and no problems sitting in the front driving. If give alot of people a ride driving 5 it gets tight. BUT hey they can take the bus if they don't like it.