I wanted a car that was very reliable and practical, but also had personality and caught the eye. When you say Corolla, you don't think about the XRS model, but this model is great. The 2.4-liter engine has great pickup with the manual transmission, and climbing grades is a lot better than with the 1.8 liter, with extra power on tap for passing. The interior is cheap, like others say, but it's a Toyota and 7 years old at that, so I am not expecting much. For a guy in his twenties that wanted something awesome but still practical and reliable, I have to say I am in love with my XRS Corolla. I just bought the car yesterday, but I will update this review when I have had it for some more time.
I researched before I bought the Corolla - I needed good gas mileage, enough room for the grandkids, and a comfortable ride. The Corolla has surprised me with its comfort, 27 mpg mixed hiway/street, and how well it has retained its good looks. The car is clean and functional with everything I need to comfortably get from A to Z. My only disappointment is that the car doesn't have Bluetooth or USB ports. It does have an auxiliary port that connects to the radio, so I am able to listen to books, music, news - whatever. I would highly recommend the Corolla as a sharp little vehicle with good response on the road.
I travel 300 miles to visit my son about four times a year, through mountains of NC. Best mileage is 42 mpg. Average for the trip is 40. Round town, not trips is 35 plus. Bought it new and did every recommended service. No problems ever with my check-ups.