This car has a smooth and pleasant ride for the type of car it is. On smooth road, it is quiet even at highway speeds. On rough roads, suspension noise is present.
Handling is secure - one can go through curves pretty fast, but it's no fun. Steering is reasonably accurate for a commuter car, on-center feel is good, and the steering wheel returns to the center position well. However, steering is numb.
Engine power is fine for commuting and easy traveling. When you want to accelerate quickly, keep on wanting.
While the transmission shifts very smoothly, it doesn't allow the engine to live in the high RPM range, even when you demand quick acceleration. To invoke any faster increase in speed, you have to floor it. It takes a moment for the tranny to realize that you're serious about speeding up, then it downshifts by one gear. At first the acceleration is weak, but as the engine starts getting into its meaty revs, around 4000 RPM, the car pick us speed reasonably well. Just as you feel the real power coming on line, the tranny upshifts, spoiling the party, unfortunately. So passing and merging requires caution and planning.
Braking power is good.
Corolla is built for small people. Even though the seat can be pushed back enough to provide my 6'2" and 180-pound frame with just about so-so leg space, and the steering wheel telescopes and tilts, the left elbow rest (the driver-side door) doesn't align properly, so there is no resting place for my left elbow. The right elbow rest aligns reasonably well, but it's hard plastic so it can get quite uncomfortable.
Terrible seat comfort. There is no lumbar support, and the side bolsters in the seat cushion are narrow, so they press hard against the butt = very uncomfortable on longer drives. This issue seems to be dependent on the size of the person - my small mom finds the seats comfy. If you consider this car, I strongly recommend test driving it and paying close attention to the seat comfort - if you feel a suspicious pressure somewhere, it would get much worse with time (unfortunately my relatively short test drive didn't reveal this issue).
Simple and smooth-operating controls. Very nice amber lighting of the instrument panel, but the red needles badly crash with the amber colour (Toyota designers don't take courses in aesthetic?).
The stereo system sounds cheap, very average.
Big trunk, and the rear seats can be folded down, but not flat. I can fit my mountain bike and camping gear in the car with the seats down.
Uses 15" wheels = cheaper tires.
Excellent fuel economy. Just below 6l/100km on the highway, and about 6.5 - 7l/100km mixed driving in summer; 8l/100km city driving in cold winter.
I have the enhanced convenience package, which includes traction control and VSC. Tested them this winter - work as advertised.