For a year I was driving a 1994 Nissan Sentra LE 410 miles a week. I bought the Nissan with 84,000 miles on it in 2007. When I sold it (to a mechanic) I had put 24,000 miles on it and it needed new brakes and exhaust (exhaust was OEM). It was a great car, but my brother-in-law gave me his Corolla (he bought an '08 Avalon Ltd). We also have a '00 Mazda Protege LX (LOVE THAT CAR!!!).
I drove the Corolla 116 miles home from RI to NH. Though it is a '99 and the Nissan was a '94, Corolla actually had 10,000 more miles on it. Even so, the benefits of technology that was 5 years newer were obvious.
Engine is silent. Noticeable difference between the CE's 1.8 L and the Nissan's 1.6 L. I had to drive through Mass in construction and traffic. I set the cruise to 70 mph and cruised in and out of lanes and over less than perfect pavement.
Handling is a bit sloppy (especially compared to Mazda - Proteges are built on Miata platform), but I think some tire balancing and an alignment could help that a lot.
Seating was not super comfortable, but my work commute is only 45 minutes so should not be issue. This car could have benefited from the Mazda's lumbar adjustment feature.
The Mazda is not getting the best mileage because it needs some fuel economy related TLC. The Nissan (even with exhaust issues) was holding steady at 31.2 MPG. The Corolla is doing better than both cars. Took 3/8 of a tank to go 116 miles at 70 mph. I'm doing a mileage test now and will post results on FuelEconomy.gov.
This car was babied. Carpet in trunk still smells new car - trunk was never used. I inherited the car with new tires and all the fluids changed.
I don't beat on my cars, and the NH roads I drive are all in good shape. I imagine this Corolla will end up being one of those 200K+ models like the ones the commercials brag about.
'99 was also one of the last years for this particular engine type (the kind that made Toyota's longevity famous).
Final note: My first car was a 1993 Toyota Tercel I bought new off the lot. I sold it still running with 214,000 miles.