Ten years ago I bought my 2003 Corolla LE brand new, and it has been rock solid in terms of reliability. In the ten years I've owned this car (115,000 miles) I have had only one repair that was not usual wear-and-tear (air conditioner went out). Everything else has stood the test of time. So I give this car a 5 in terms of value, build quality, and reliability. As for performance, comfort, and fun to drive, the Corolla is admittedly not top-of-the-line (you're not going to win races with this thing or feel like you're sitting in a recliner), and gas mileage by today's standards isn't spectacular. But, I trust this thing just as much today as I did the day I bought it and that says something.
Reliable; decent gas mileage; reasonable space for a compact car (incuding back seat room)