My disclaimer is that I have brand bias. My previous car was a '98 Corolla that I drove for 7 years, and it was so good to me (died once due to the battery; always started at the first turn). Purchasing a 2011 seemed a safe decision. I researched comparable contenders: Honda, Mazda, and was actually excited about the Chevy Cruze (but unenthused about the reviews for it). No, the Corolla hasn't improved much in 13 years, and it may not have great options, but I know I can trust this car. It hides nothing and delivers exactly what you expect.
Foremost, the gas mileage is fantastic for a non-hybrid. If not for the log I keep, I'd probably forget the last time I got gas.
I'm 5'9~5'10" and have no trouble with leg room, though the rear-view mirror seems too close to my face and tends to block a lot of windshield space.
The engine is quiet, though sometimes grumbles when at a stop. The braking/acceleration system is incredibly sensitive off the lot, and it took a good month or two for me to acclimate to it. Leveling the car out around 40 or 60 MPH without using cruise control tends to confuse it. It either wants to slow down or speed up (but maybe this will smooth out the older the car gets).
The interior is incredibly disappointing at first. The two-tone dash looks cheap, but it's growing on me. I agree with other reviewers that the clock is in a poor place, but perhaps sun glare would have made it impossible to put higher? The remaining layout is uninspired but practical. I don't see the attraction in 500 buttons.
The braking system has, on numerous occasions now, made a horrible grinding noise if I'm trying to slow while hitting a downward bump. I think this is because the wheels suddenly have no traction, or perhaps it's the ABS? The roads here resemble stairs sometimes, and I think it messes with the brake response to try to stop on thin air (a la Prius "float").