Well I own a 2003 corolla S. Not much different from the 2004. I'm about 5'8" and I have issues with the leg room on the corolla.
Looks is based on your personal opinion. If the car had sports seats standard or even as an option i would have got them. The seats have lil leg support. The power window/door lock controls are at my wrist ... and not my fingers... My arms are not that long to begin with.
The car gives a decent amount of hp to the wheels. I get an average of 30mpg 50/50 highway/city
I would opt for ABS if you aren't familiar with pumping your brakes for emergency braking.
There are some rattles that people have complained about, but nothing too serious.
The centor console compartments scratch very easily
The window has only one bracket... so you could see that it rolls down unstable. It also sounds like it's about to die, compared to how honda makes their power windows...you'll see what i'm talking about when you try it out.
It's great for a commuter and i like the looks. There have been some after market support so you could change the looks a lil to what you prefer.
There's a TRD supercharger if you want some more low end power.
The manual transmission isn't that smooth. The tranny doesn't downshift through halfway points...
The car is a lil high. Might want to lower it at least an inch and get wider tires.
The interior isn't really black... it's more of a charcoal grey.
The gauges are white ... the centor console lights are ugly green (go figure). Most of the S comes with a cassette player you don't want.
The 2005 S is the same i think. The XRS is nicer with 4 wheel disc brakes/abs and some other good stuff, but i'm not sure it's worth the price.
You could look into the Mazda 3, Scion TC, Protege, Matrix, RSX,