It's been four years and we've passed that milestone.
So what's it been like? We could only have asked for a better car if we were richer. But a Corolla perfectly fits our family, and there could not be a more cost effective and reliable fit to our needs. It is literally the best car to have in our situation.
A long time ago, I did a simple cost comparison between a Corolla and a Prius and the Corolla came out on top, but that was with a gas price of $4. Of course, when prices go up, the Prius will be a better and better option, and newer ones get even better mileage. When the Prius gets plug-in capability, it will jump way ahead. There is also the option of the Matrix. The Matrix shares the platform of the Corolla, but because of reduced aerodynamic efficiency of a hatchback, it gets two less miles per gallon. To my eyes, those are the only real options beside going smaller as far as cars go. Someone at church just got the four door Yaris, and it looks really good too. Though it probably has a little less towing capability and less storage.
Someone did sideswipe my wife only five weeks after we got the car, so that got fixed. I hit something on the freeway that broke off the passenger side mirror. I bumped into a few curbs, an engine, and bumped the front end on the ground on a bad driveway. That last part actually created the most annoyance, the front end doesn't seem particularly strong, that's my only complaint, but you'd never know it if you didn't run into something. We had someone back into the driver's side front fender too. My bass amplifier rolled across the back seat and broke out the window.
Maintenance wise, the car has been a dream. I have used Amsoil in it since 500 miles, and so I've only changed the oil about six times. It still runs perfectly and the oil doesn't get black even after over 20,000 miles. I recently did some non routine maintenance, I added some freon to the AC which returned its functioning back to refrigerator quality like when we first got it. I also changed the cabin air filter which was way easier than I thought it would be. It was full of lint and leaves and dust. I think we are on our third set of tires, no complaints there. I think we need a new oxygen sensor though, it seems like it should get better gas mileage sometimes. But that's to be expected that this age. We've had to replace no lights, the brake fluid is still nice and clear, and I think we are still on our original radiator juice.
One complaint I have is I wish there were more control over the heat/AC system. I wish you had complete control over whether or not to use AC on defrost, or whether or not to bring in outside air. I wish those things weren't automatic like they are. I also wish the headlights were more easily adjustable. I was able to burn the original transmission fluid by pulling a heavy trailer over the great divide, but I changed it with synthetic, and everything seems to work just fine.
To save energy, I disabled the automatic feature of the headlights, that eliminated the running lights which I feel just wasted energy. So now we have to turn on the headlights manually, but it's the same way for every other car I've ever had, so I don't even notice. I added a hitch and wiring specially made for the application in the back, and that works great too.
A good car, I expect to do two more of these updates. Look for them every four years.