I have a 2003 LE, automatic, built in Japan (100% Japanese parts content), J-VIN, built May '02 and purchased Oct. 28, '02.
I've had hardly any of the issues Bob Levine has had with his '03, except for the serpentine belt, which was changed twice, the second time including a new tensioner under the TSB, but out of warranty, so it was on my dime.
I still have the car, and it is pretty much perfect. It still hasn't turned over 64,000 miles yet! I've done all maintenance myself except for a couple of radiator flushes and new front brake pads and rotors at around 48K miles, and the serp belts/tensioner. The brake job also included a brake fluid flush.
My Corolla had to be one of the first few thousand or so on the American roads for the '03 model, and I would say I've been quite lucky. I cannot understand how Bob had so many issues with his. I particularly don't understand the door weatherstripping problem, as I don't come anywhere near the door weatherstripping seal at any time while entering/exiting the vehicle.
One thing that's putting me off of the idea of an '09 model is the fact that they have apparently switched from a spin-on type oil filter to a cartridge filter. Since I do all my own fluids maintenance, this would significantly complicate the otherwise simple task of an oil/filter change. From the descriptions I've read of the oil filter cartridge replacement procedure, it would seem to have been implemented to discourage shade-tree mechanics from doing even this simple maintenance procedure, and taking the car to the dealer instead.
My present plan is to keep my '03 Corolla for at least another year, possibly replacing it in the fall of '10. That would be eight years, and by then, I don't expect this car to have more than 72,000 miles on it. Then again, as long as no seriously costly maintenance issues have arisen by then, and I don't expect any, there really is no reason not to keep it long term. It is performing it's basic function, still looks and rides almost like new. In fact, when I get it cleaned up and waxed, the only thing that gives away it's age are the increasingly cloudy plastic headlight covers. I've tried cleaning them up with toothpaste, which helps a little, but seems to need to be redone at fairly frequent intervals.
Therefore, based on my experience as the owner of a VERY early issue of a first model year Corolla, there wouldn't seem to be any real problems with doing so. I think any serious maintenance issues are likely to surface well within the warranty period. I, however, had only one serpentine belt replaced under warranty. That's nothing. I would have traded to an '09 Corolla this year had it not been for the cartridge-type oil filter issue. Seriously.