For a purchase price of $850 my car will get better gas mileage than a brand new Honda Civic, and it hasn't left me stranded.
On a trip from Central California to Southern California on hilly roads (US highway 101) I averaged 42 miles/gallon. My average combined city/highway mileage is somewhere around 35.
Although it looks like a lot of things have failed, I am used to a lack of creature comforts, and I don't find the things I haven't replaced necessary. The things I have replaced were fairly easy and inexpensive to do myself.
It is important to look under the hood at least once a week to check for possible failures before they become major issues. This is important to do with any car, but especially one with 200,000+ miles.
One of the great things about this car is that it is so simple. There is no air conditioning, no power windows or locks, and not even any power steering. I can actually shut the engine off and drive downhill with no decrease in steering or braking capabilities. There are very few computer-like things, which is how cars should be.
The engine and transmission have been excellent as far as reliability to this point. Performance is adequate. Seems faster than my previous vehicle (a 1985 Chevy 3/4 ton truck with a 5.7L V8 and a 3 speed automatic). I would guess an automatic transmission in this car would slow it down though.
I taught myself how to drive a manual transmission in this car, and it took that abuse with no problem.
Being such a small vehicle (about 2300 lbs, compared to my truck which was 4800) you have to watch for large trucks that might not see you, and in an accident with a larger vehicle this car would definitely lose. Still safer than a motorcycle though!
Tons of room for cargo with the rear seat folded down (considering the size of the car).