I purchased a pre-owned 2002 Corolla when my 1994 Tercel final gave up the ghost. This is perhaps the ultimate commuter car - reliable, steady, easy to drive, fuel efficient, and unnoticed by speed traps. The five-speed instead of automatic transmission makes a big difference in traffic and bad weather. BTW - I'm 5'6" and find the cabin very comfortable!
Reliability and gas mileage. I run synthetic oil and average 36-40 MPG overall.