I just purchased the car, and have only put on a few hundred miles. I purchased the car with a few small issues however:
The front passenger side power window switch is dead. The passenger side window works using the drivers' side master switch, but not with the switch on the passenger's side door.
The drivers' seat seatback shakes side to side slightly.
It needs an alignment. The car tracks straight, but the steering wheel is turned a bit to the right.
It will need a timing belt and a radiator soon. I bought the car knowing this. I will be doing all the work myself, so it's not a big deal to me.
These are the only issues I've found with the car, and they are all either very small problems, basic maintenance, or just wear and tear.
I was originally looking for a Corolla with a manual transmission, however, I couldn't pass this one up. The owner was asking $2400, however, I was able to get it for $1900 (I have not been able to find ANY Corolla ANYWHERE in this condition for less than $3000. Very happy).
I did spend the $30 before I bought it to get a Carfax. Thankfully, it was clean. No accidents and only 2 owners. It's in great shape. Despite having always been here in Massachusetts, it has almost no rust. The body itself is in excellent shape, and the underside and suspension have very little rust.
The paint is a little faded, and the clear coat has come off in a few spots, but nothing real major. The interior is in surprisingly excellent shape, it almost looks new, no joke. The fit and finish is great and there isn't a single squeak or rattle.
I like the way the car drives. It handles the corners pretty well, although it doesn't give you a ton of feedback. Overall the handling is acceptable. It doesn't handle as well as my Neon, however, I didn't buy it to outperform the Neon in that aspect. I'm looking for some reliability this time.
I see a lot of complaints of this car being dangerously slow with the automatic transmission on this site. I must say that I disagree, I think it has pretty decent acceleration. It has no problems getting around town or moving at highway speeds. It is slower than my Neon (when my Neon was running) but once again, I'm only looking for something more reliable.
It's extremely comfortable compared to my Neon. The Neon tells you about all the bumps. There's a few roads in town that I used to avoid altogether because they hurt so bad. This Corolla handles the bumps very well. Much more comfortable. Haven't had any real long drives in it yet, so I can't say how the seats feel after a few hours of sitting in them at this time.
The engine is very quiet and smooth. I've grinded the starter once already (couldn't hear it running!) I have not had a chance to calculate gas mileage just yet.
Some of the things I don't like would have to be the fact that it's an automatic. I was really looking for a manual, but I just couldn't pass up an offer like this.
I was also hoping for a Japanese-built model (you've seen what we've done to Toyota with our American-built models, right?) I had a bad experience with an American-built Honda Civic once, which shows me even more how low our quality control is here in the States. I had always had good luck with Honda's before that Civic, and they were all Japanese-built. This is actually my first Toyota. I hope this will last as long as my old Honda's did. Even with close to 200,000 miles, it has about 300,000 more to go to really show me it's got what it takes.
I will also miss the acceleration I got with my Neon (but not the repairs!).
Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and thus far have no regrets. I will continue to update this review as long as I own the vehicle.