This base model Japanese sardine can came from the NUMMI factory after Toyota turned it around. In terms of construction and reliability, this is about as good as it gets. Most of the problems that I did not list were clearly caused by poor maintenance or lack of inspection.
The old lady is still going strong at 188K, though she does smoke a bit when cold. The shop's diagnosis was that it's old age and she'd go on for another 50000 without rebuilding the engine.
My Corolla has taken me through all sorts of hazards and weather, including several hurricanes and the odd blizzard, and has never let me down. Even doing 105 mph on a wet road did not faze this car. She maintains a superb grip on the road at all speeds and in all conditions. She starts at -1F as well as at she does at 105F.
Performance is much better than one would expect from a 1.6L engine. It doesn't have much zip when you take off but, by the time you hit 60, you migh as well be in a much more powerful car. Acceleration in fifth is magnificent for a small engine and lets you overtake fearlessly as the car goes from 70 to 90 in no time. The transmission is flawless even at her advanced age. I'm rather fond of the high clutch that gives more leeway for sloppy shifting than most cars do.
The interior is fairly cheap, consisting mostly of hard plastic. Still, it fits five in the city without protests, even from the taller ones, who got put in the middle. The paint job on the outside was not terribly good. The car was turning pink and peeling after more than a decade under the Florida sun.
Long after I give her up due to a growing family that needs more car space, I expect to be saying that this was the best car I ever owned. My next car was a Corolla, too, but in the end I gave that one up instead of the old '91 because this was, hands down, the better car.