Complaints: Pricey options, including $300 for anti-lock brakes, $250 for side-impact air bags and $825 for the S appearance package.

Praise: In general, the new Corolla is about as good as a conventionally powered small car can get, especially if you control your lust for options.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Good in all three categories. Keep in mind that this is a commuter, not a track competitor.

Head-turning quotient: At least this one turns heads. That's progress for a Corolla.

Engine/transmissions: The Corolla's 1.8-liter, 130-horsepower, 16-valve four-cylinder engine is linked to a standard, five-speed manual transmission. An extra $800 gets you the optional, electronically controlled four-speed automatic. All Corollas are rated "ULEV" -- ultra-low-emissions vehicles.

Capacities: The Corolla seats five adults. Cargo capacity is 13.6 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons of gasoline. Regular unleaded is recommended.

Mileage: In the manual-transmission S model, I averaged 38 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving.

Price: Base price on the tested S is $14,515. Dealer invoice price on base model is $13,135. Price as tested is $17,000, including a $485 destination charge and $2,000 in options. The destination charge rises to $525 in Gulf Coast and southeastern states.

Purse-strings note: The Corolla is good, but it has lots of competition, including the Chevrolet Cavalier, Dodge Neon SE, Ford Focus, Honda Civic LX, Hyundai Elantra GLS, Kia Spectra, Mazda Protege, Mitsubishi Lancer, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki Esteem and Volkswagen Golf.