A google search for "97 corolla MPG" turns up 35 or even 31 MPG highway for the automatic transmission model.
When I was commuting 40 miles to and from work along I93, I calculated a rough estimate of 37 MPG. On a recent trip to Virginia, my husband said he thought he got 40 MPG. On the drive back, we filled up the tank, drove 84 miles, then topped off the tank. 1.7 gallons brought it back to full.
I admit, when we first got the car, I missed my old zippy '89 Civic (Laguna gold, my first new car.) But now we're very happy with our dull green corolla.