Toyota’s Corolla hatchback is loads of fun

Bright blue Toyota corolla hatchback XSE
2019 Corolla Hatchback XSE

Toyota (www.toyota.com) isn’t one of those companies that buyers choose if they are looking for a hot hatchback, especially if Corolla is plastered on the car. 

Nope. Corollas are sensible, reliable and comfortable, somethings  you’d say about a favorite pair of shoes. 

Well, probably by the time you read this, Toyota will be selling the Corolla hatch which is, well, pretty hot. 

The car is new but has been here before in another life as the Scion Im. Toyota killed its “youth” division a few years back so it’s now been revised to be wider, longer and lower and live as a Corolla.

The hatch’s  platform is brand new and has been massaged into something sweet. The engine and transmission may be the best new elements. There is a six-speed manual or a nifty CVT automatic that has a separate launch gear. My preproduction car featured the auto tranny with a sport setting. Select sport and the speedometer turns red  and the car does seem to spring to life. And it may have been my imagination but the engine. Ouse seemed to be more sporty than just noisy.

The Good Stuff

The 2.0-liter engine is a jewel making 168 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque. No, not the neck snapping numbers of a VW Golf R, but great for a Corolla. It makes the car feel peppy once it gets going. Acceleration feels quick, again, relative for what this is. 

I took the Corolla on a four hour round trip on some country roads and found it to be a fairly fun driver. The suspension was tight enough to give feedback on road conditions but just soft enough to offer a comfortable ride. The leather/cloth seat combo was comfortable as well, but may need a little more padding in the shoulder area. 

The car worked wonderfully for a preproduction vehicle and I heard nary a rattle or a squeak. Everything worked including the smart cruise, which brought me to a complete stop once a car stopped in front of me. Also of note is the superb 800 watt JBL eight speaker sound system. The A -pillar mounted tweeters were sweet. The base system comes with a CD player. The upscale system does not. You do get AppleCar play and Android Auto, however. 

2019 Corolla hatchback interior
Interior is well crafted, modern

The Corolla hatch is aimed at the youth market, but any-aged driver will flock to this if the price is right. My model was a loaded XSE. There was lots of safety equipment, snazzy tires and wheels, automatic transmission, auto climate control, intelligent cruise, and dash mounted touch screen.  I didn’t get a breakdown as to what is standard or optional, nor do i know how much the car will cost. The entry level model is said to start at $19,500. I’m guessing  this car was at least $24,000.

If this the case, this car has some stiff competition. The back seat isn’t very large but lowered, there is a lot of space to carry stuff, much like these cute utes that are springing up everywhere. With Toyota’s reliability and low cost to own I’d take the first model year plunge if you are interested.  

cross@alldaytech.com