This is an OK beginner car. Too much cost if you are buying brand new. Engine is very refined, can rev to 6000 rpm without even noticing the engine. can do more than 90mph without even hearing the engine, no vibration and super quiet. It has good acceleration when starting in 1st gear. I think the safety is very high on this car as the hood weighs very heavy compared to my Hyundai. Gets nice MPG in city and highway. Doesn't burn a drop of oil or coolant in 10,000 miles. Transmission shifts nice and fast even though its 4 speed. Heats up very fast in Michigan winter. TRAC and ESC is very good in winter. Overall i think its a very good car and engine feels very reliable.
This is a cheapie car that over delivers. I think when rating this car you have to take price into consideration. You are not going to get a high end Audi for under 20k. It has some road noise, a little to much cheap plastic in the interior and the stuff in find in the under 20k range.
What I did get was a a smooth ride, enough engine pep, just enough interior room all in a affordable package. Almost 40k and I have only changed oil, filters and put higher end tires on. It warms up quick in cold Michigan and handles snowy roads without skipping a beat. Its a better car than the last two Honda's I have owned.
Bought in Jan 2012 with 7 miles on the clock. I have put over 82,000 miles on the car since (70/30 highway/city). Only routine maintenance, no issues with anything whatsoever. Original brakes/tires lasted nearly 70k. I average 37mpg combined commuting ~430 miles per week. Overall very happy with this car - the newer corollas I have driven as loaners seem a bit more cheaply built compared to the '11.