i am not an expert but i can give you my opinion based on personal experiecne. i have owned both 1995 Japanese se limited corolla and 2004 model se saloon a few years ago. the se saloon i had bought was brand new and Japanese corolla was already driven 50000 km. i have also driven 2006 xli of one of my friend.
in my opinion the se saloon was bit more powerful (1600cc) as compared to the other two cars. but the japanese corolla was the best in almost every aspect. i was much happier with it. it was really fun driving and very smooth ride. if it is properly tuned, i bet that no other corolla of the same power range would beat it.
the difference in acceleration you experienced by watching the videos may be due to the transmission difference. auto transmission works differently. drive xli and se limited to the same speed (say 60 to 80 km/h) in top gear. when the cars become side by side then just shift the automatic transmission shift lever from "D" to "2" and see how the automatic se limited shoots then. it will just suck the xli or even any other car. i have tried and tested. it never disappointed me.
here are the photos of my previously owned cars.