I bought my 1993 Toyota Tercel in 2007, five years ago when I started college. Since then, it has never left me stranded at the side of the road (besides one blowout, which was my own fault). For a car that only produces 83 horsepower, it's incredibly fun to drive. I bought it at 22,900 miles, and it recently turned over to the 100,000 mark. In those five years, the only non-maintenance repair that I've had to make to the car is replacing the exhaust system. And that was after 19 years of the car living in the Northeastern US, where salt and harsh chemicals are sprayed on the roads in the winter. I would recommend this car to anyone who wants something akin to the Energizer Bunny.
* Manual Transmission:
Makes the car much quicker off the line than you'd ever expect from an economy car.
While this isn't a sports car, the pickup is great.
* Amazing Gas Mileage:
Before I put my giant CB antenna on the top of my car, I would usually average between 43-46 mpg (US gallon).
Even with the drag that I have now, I still get in the high 30s.
I bought this car when it was 14 years old.
The only non-maintenance repair that I've had to make dealt with my exhaust corroding from years of abuse from harsh anti-ice chemicals.
Nothing else besides oil changes, brakes, tires, and the occasional tune-up.
* 5th Gear:
My car is a four-speed, which doesn't bother me in the slightest.
The only thing that a 5th gear might improve is (1) the fuel economy, and (2) the road noise.
Mind you, the fuel economy is already more than fine.
As someone who commutes to and from school, not having cupholders was an annoyance.
I bought some aftermarket ones.
* Air Conditioning:
While I know that using A/C wastes fuel and makes less of the car's power end up in the engine, it would still be a nice creature comfort to have.
* Trip Odometer:
Not really something that I have a use for, but its absence is something that stood out to me when I first bought the car.
I bought this car used in 1995. I have 100K miles on it and have had no problems, mechanical or body. This car is a small tank and I expect it to last another 10 years. I paid $5000 for the car and recently was offered $3000 for it. When I sell this car, it will be for more than my original price. This car is so well built and is still very fuel efficient. It is a great car.
Reliability and fuel economy.
Road noise is high. It would have been nice to have a 5th gear.
I purchased this car in December '93 just as a form of cheap transportation thinking I'd get another car after five years. I keep waiting for it to give up the ghost, but this car just keeps on going. I rarely need "major" repairs. Trans about six years ago, exhaust last year, brakes two years ago? In 15 years I needed to be jumped twice, but I never had a breakdown or needed to be towed. There's rust by the rear wheels and side view mirrors, and a puff of white exhaust when I start up. It's been dependable in 100+'F weather down to -50'F weather. I get 27 mpg (city), 38 mpg (hwy), and 33 mpg mixed. Overall it's a great dependable car.
It's not a showy or sport car, but it has great gas economy, a decent size, and dependability.
Better trunk opening, exterior design that flows water away from (rather than into) the side windows, better sound insulation, cup holders (got one off of eBay).
Bought used with 182k miles and a
4spd. Abused little car, I put a new
engine, heater blower motor, and cv
joints. Since I put the new parts in
I've not had any problems. The
interior is too small for me (6'1")
and the road noise is almost
intollerable above 60mph. But 35mpg
and dependability compensate a little
fuel economy and 4spd.
more legroom/headroom in the front.
Louder radio to eliminate road noise.