Hello and Welcome to the forums.
The years you have listed span two generations of Corolla. Dimensionally, they look very similar, but the engines are from two different families.
The 7th generation Corolla spans model years from 1993-1997 (assuming North American market cars)
The 8th generation Corolla spans model years from 1998-2002 (assuming North American market cars)
The 7th generation use Toyota's A-series family of engine, well known engine. Available in a a 1.6L 4A-FE or 1.8L 7A-FE inline 4 cylinder engines. The 8th generation introduced the ZZ-family of engines. Available in two variants, both are 1.8L 1ZZ-FE inline 4 cylinder engines - the earlier ones 1998-1998 had two coil packs and plug wires, MAP sensored, and did not have variable valve timing. The later ones (2000+) used individual coil on plugs, MAF sensores, and have VVT-i variable valve timing as standard.
There are pros and cons with both generations - as for the oil consumption issue that you might be seeing - that is likely to be limited to the earlier 8th gen Corollas, which were known to have stuck piston rings that lead to excessive oil consumption. Of course, any engine can consume oil - just seems that the earlier 8th gens had a higher tendancy to do that than the previous generation Corolla and the later Corolla generations.
The one you are thinking of, 1997 Corolla, would be a good choice for decent car. Last model in its generation - so any "bugs" that have shown themselves during that generation should have been worked out by that time. Known issues for this model year - faulty alternators, cracked exhaust manifold, EGR issues, usual suspension/steering/brakes issue - that's pretty much it. As long as the maintenance has been done on the car, shouldn't be any issue.