The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car in the universe, yet it is also one of the most under-appreciated new cars on the market. For most of its existence, it has been an insult to ice cream to call the Corolla vanilla, but that has definitely changed with the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. This car takes the place of the short-lived Scion iM/Toyota Corolla iM, and it instantly gives the Corolla added credibility in the competitive compact segment – where the Corolla has long been competing in sedan-only form against some rivals offering two or three body configurations. While the exterior is a huge improvement over past Corolla designs, we spent a week in the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback to see how the complete package holds up against compact hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Honda Civic.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Exterior
Toyota’s design team has been on fire lately helping to spice up historically conservative cars like the Camry and Avalon, and now their attention has focused on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback – as well as the redesigned Corolla sedan that hits the market for the 2020 model year. Where the Scion iM’s styling was flat and angular to a slab-sided fault, the Corolla Hatchback’s design is very organic with smooth, flowing lines. That starts up front with its low, wide grille and uniquely shaped headlights (which look phenomenal at night with the trio of LED parking lights) leading back to stylish creases along the side including the subtle bulge above the rear wheel. There are also some interesting – if not busy – lines at the rear of the hatchback with LED taillights shaped to mimic the headlights but those fake chrome exhaust outlets are a letdown. As sporty as the Corolla Hatchback looks, it still has a practical look to it as well thanks to the low belt line and tall, flat roof.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is offered in just two trim levels (SE and XSE) with very little difference between the two. All models get standard LED lighting and alloy wheels, but the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE offers a sportier appearance with the satin chrome grille accent, 18-inch two-tone wheels, LED fog lights and an optional boy racer style rear spoiler (not equipped on this tester). There’s a bolder color palette and even some of the more conservative colors – this tester’s Oxide Bronze Metallic hue – are far from boring. Overall, the design of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback toes a fine line between standing out when parked next to a Mazda3 or Honda Civic and staying true to faithful Corolla buyers.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Interior
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback isn’t as bold as its exterior design, but it’s still a huge step up from past Corolla cabins. As soon as you get in, you’ll notice the giant eight-inch touch screen infotainment display in the middle of a soft-touch instrument with stitched accents. This isn’t unique to the XSE trim either as the lower SE gets this dash along with the leather steering wheel and Toyota’s Entune 3.0 infotainment system, which finally allows for Apple CarPlay integration but not yet Android Auto. Stepping up to the XSE does add features like the seven-inch digital display in the gauge cluster, leather seats with cloth inserts, power driver’s seat, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control; options such as navigation, JBL audio system and wireless charging only offered on the XSE with the optional automatic transmission.
The two-tone coloring with metallic accents really adds a sporty look to the interior, and my only real complaint about the cabin is that there’s a little too much glossy black plastic on the doors and center console. Like the exterior, Toyota did an amazing job with this interior layout giving the Corolla Hatchback some much-needed character without alienating loyal customers. The cabin is very practical and spacious with lots of headroom and legroom for all passengers and 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Powertrain
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that benefits from Toyota’s D-4S dual injection system, which maximizes fuel economy without sacrificing power output by combining both direct and port fuel injection. Power is up significantly with an output of 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, and that’s 32 more horsepower and 23 more lb-ft of torque than the 2018 Corolla we tested last year. Even with the added power, the Corolla Hatchback is also more efficient than the Corolla iM with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway* with the six-speed manual transmission and up to 32 mpg city and 42 mpg highway with the optional Dynamic Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT).
On the road, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback delivers impressive balance… not only for a Corolla but for any front-wheel drive compact car. Steering and braking feel are a huge step up from past Corollas, but again, it isn’t overly harsh and won’t scare away traditional buyers. The shifter’s long throw will remind you that you’re not in a hot hatch, but this transmission does provide a cool rev-matching feature that is just another fun excuse to opt for the manual transmission over the optional CVT. The bottom line is that while the Corolla Hatchback is an economy compact, it is still a fun and compliant car with a ride that is smooth and quiet.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Safety
Although the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this compact hatchback comes loaded with safety features. In addition to the seven airbags and Safety Connect system (Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification), the Corolla Hatchback is also fitted with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced driver assistance features such as Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, lane departure with steering assist, adaptive cruise control and road sign assist. Toyota’s Star Safety System is also standard and includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution with brake assist and Smart Stop Technology.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Overall
After 53 years on the market, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is perhaps the best Corolla ever. It’s an affordable and easy-to-drive compact that is perfect for anyone whether it’s your first car or your last, and the higher-volume sedan segment better watch out if the 2020 Corolla sedan is anywhere close to being this safe, fun and practical. One thing that hasn’t changed with this Corolla is its value with the Hatchback priced with a starting MSRP of $21,090**. Even the XSE with its added style and content is still quite a bargain with an as-tested price of $24,325.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Toyota dealership and test drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback today!
* Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
** MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.