I've owned this car for a little over two years. Prior to that, I had a 4-speed 2001 Corolla CE that I owned for 5 years.
Pros: - The engine is a typical Toyota engine, which means it hasn't changed much over the years. While it might lack some of the power compared to its competitors, I'd be pretty confident with it lasting a long time. - The CVT isn't too bad in this vehicle. Toyota put in artifical shift points so it feels more like a conventional transmission. Reliability seems to be pretty good as I haven't seen any failures posted online. - The interior is pretty nice. The S model has some nice stitching that makes it feel upscale. - The back seats are pretty roomy and comfortable. Granted, this generation is larger than the past ones, but it's good if you need to shuttle people. - MPGs are pretty good. I get 35 average with mixed city/highway driving. This drops to 32 in the winter. But I'm in general pretty light on the throttle.
Cons: - The headlights are awful. I don't understand how so many people rated them as good. There's a "lid" on the LED headlights to prevent it shining out too much. What this does is creates a sharp cut-off for low-beams. To make things worse, because the lights are bright white, it means you can't see anything beyond the cut-off point. It also is very blinding to other drivers. I can't stand it when another Corolla comes up behind me. I honestly try to avoid driving at night with this car, but that becomes impossible to do in winter. I never had this issue with my old car. - Handling is poor and requires a lot of manual correction. The steering doesn't transmit a lot of feedback to the driver. - The CVT loves to rev up everytime you apply the gas even in small amounts. This causes the engine RPMs to jostle around a lot. Even with the artifical shift points, it's still a CVT at the end of the day and rather dull. Engine braking with it is barely there as it's designed for fuel economy. - The Entune system doesn't allow mp3 files and folders to be read like a directory on a computer. It insists on reading all the tags and sorting them that way. If you want to play files on a USB stick or CD, make sure they are all tagged correctly first. - The dashboard and interior lights are all bright blue or white and are constantly illuminated. I'd much prefer a softer color for night driving. - The automatic headlights were removed in this generation. Between this and the previous issue, I've seen other Corolla drivers with headlights off at dusk. That's not a good thing at all.
If it wasn't for the headlight issue, this would be another Corolla that I would keep for many years. But because of the headlight issue, I'm probably going to trade it in for something else.
My 2014 Corolla has 106,000. miles on it now and other than reliability I have been mostly disappointed with it. I've always found that the ride to be choppy and harsh. There is a lot of vibration in the steering wheel and the road noise that makes it very tiresome to drive. The seats are comfortable, but because of the low roof-line, I find it very difficult to get in and out without hitting my head on the door frame. The steering is numb and the brakes are mushy. The visibility is poor because of the high dashboard and small windows. Visibility is especially poor at night due to the terrible LED low beam headlights! These headlights cause a sharp cut-off of light above center which is like having a black curtain hanging about two car lengths in front of you. This is especially bad while going down hill which reduces the visible distance to about 1 car length. At times you can literally see pedestrian's leg without a hint of their torso. It's almost funny if it weren't so dangerous. I hear the low beams cost upwards of a grand to replace too, can't wait for that! The most disappointing thing about the ownership experience of this car has been the paint. Three winters of sanded roads have left the clear-coat paint on the front bumper and hood badly damaged. The black paint is dull and actually looks grey in places. Other cars I have driven under the same conditions have fared much better.
I read Consumer Reports for the value and reliability ratings before I purchased this car. I wish that the LE model had a more comfortable driver's seat. My next car will have a driver's seat with more cushion and adjustments available!
There is an upgraded Corolla that has a power seat. I am waiting for a used one after 2014 (want the backup camera) to become available.