RSS icon Home icon
  • First Drive: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    Posted on April 30th, 2018 ninarussin

    Subcompact aimed towards driving enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    This summer an all-new hatchback replaces the Corolla iM: a car developed for Europe and initially sold in the US under the Scion nameplate. The new hatchback reflects a serious commitment stateside to a segment currently dominated by Honda and Mazda, delivering a product that goes head-to-head against the Civic and Mazda3.

    “Our competition, especially the Civic, has a unique family story. We’re doing the same thing,” explained Jordan Pauly, vehicle marketing for Toyota.

    “In this diverse segment, we are looking at buyers aged 18-35, multicultural, half male and half female. Not one vehicle fits all. The group is interested in utility but does not want the size or higher price of a SUV,” he continued.

    Toyota hopes buyers will see the new hatch as an affordable, fun-to-drive alternative, and is developing aftermarket parts under the TRD brand to encourage customizing. The automaker is campaigning a Formula Drift car based on the production car built by Stephan Papadakis and driven by Fredric Aasbo, to whet the appetite of driving enthusiasts.

    New from the ground up

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    Power for the front-wheel drive hatchback comes from a new two-liter naturally aspirated engine rated at 168-horsepower with 151 pound-feet of torque: a significant power boost over the outgoing iM. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual gearbox and continuously variable transmission with a fixed first gear for better launch.

    The chassis is longer, lower and wider than the iM, with available 18-inch wheels. The front end has shorter overhangs while those in the back of the are slightly longer.

    A polymer hatch reduces vehicle weight for better fuel economy. Engineers boosted torsional rigidity by sixty percent compared to the outgoing model and added an all-new four-wheel independent suspension.

    There are two grades: base SE and upscale XSE. Both grades get LED headlamps and tail lamps. Adaptive front lighting is available on the XSE with the CVT transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to launch this summer.

    Infotainment features include a standard eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Alexa Auto, Toyota Entune 3.0 with app suite connect, Bluetooth interface with music streaming, USB 2.0 with iPod connectivity and voice recognition. Buyers can add a premium eight-speaker, 800-watt JBL audio system with Clari-Fi.

    Test drive in Southern California

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    At a recent media program, I drove both six-speed manual and CVT cars on surface streets and highways in San Diego, California. The new Corolla hatchback is not just a pretty face. Both versions of the car delivered significantly improved power and performance as compared to the iM, with styling that should turn the heads of youthful buyers.

    The new two-liter engine produces good power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. There is enough on the high end to easily pass slower vehicles at speed.

    The six-speed manual is a quantum improvement over the iM gearbox, with a shorter throw and much more precise shifting. A rev-matching feature helps drivers maintain momentum in the corners.

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

    The fixed first gear in the CVT eliminates the rubber band feel that tends to plague these systems. Drivers will be surprised at the transmission’s solid launch and linear acceleration.

    Steering feedback from the electric power steering system is a bit soft in on-center response, but drivers should feel well connected to the wheels. At low speeds, there is plenty of assist for maneuvering into parking spaces on the street or through crowded parking lots.

    It’s hard to evaluate suspension performance in a city where road surfaces don’t suffer the effects of harsh winters, but the four-wheel independent setup seems to do a good job of absorbing bumps without feeling mushy. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Corolla hatch in firm, linear fashion.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing tire, engine and wind noise intrusion to the interior so occupants can converse or enjoy their favorite tunes.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera eliminates blind spots around the rear pillars and beneath the rear glass, and makes it easier to back out of parking slots when surrounded by higher profile vehicles.

    Spacious interior

    Toyota Corolla Hatchback Interior

    Toyota Corolla Hatchback Interior

    Designers made the most of the hatchback’s interior space by keeping it clean and uncluttered. I found driver’s seat adjustments easy to use with good lower lumbar support for longer drives. Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. Due to the relatively short duration of the test drive I didn’t have a lot of time to take a deep dive into media options, but the satellite radio was easy to program.

    The hatchback’s taller, larger cargo area adds versatility as compared to the Corolla sedan: something that should appeal to buyers with active lifestyles. While it is possible to fit a bicycle inside, cyclists will want to add either a hitch or roof rack. Those who are concerned about being able to store bikes inside the car should size up to the larger RAV4.

    Standard safety

    The 2019 Corolla Hatchback comes with seven airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, daytime running lamps and a rearview camera. The newest version of Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian and daytime bicyclist detection and autonomous braking is standard on all grades. TSS also includes dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.

    Blind spot monitoring is standard on the XSE and available on the SE. The blind spot monitoring system does not include cross traffic alert.

    Like: A stylish subcompact hatchback with good engine power, two good transmission options and solid handling dynamics.

    Dislike: Cross traffic alert is not available on either model.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: Corolla Hatchback
    Year: 2019
    Base price: TBA
    As tested: N/A
    Horsepower: 168 HP @ 6600 rpm
    Torque: 151 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: TBA

    Comments are closed.