The Toyota Corolla is well-known as an affordable reliable car, but it’s more about efficiency than excitement. The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback keeps the features that made the Corolla a household name, but it dials up the excitement with a fresh look, Apple CarPlay and a few other tricks inside the small cabin. It’s not a hot hatch, and it’s not Mazda driving level of excitement, but it is a tempting option that small car buyers need to check out.
This is a Corolla that’s prepared to show a bit of attitude, comes with a better than average driving experience and if you opt for the XSE you can boost the style and attitude just the right amount to fit the car. I tested the 2019 Corolla Hatchback SE, and enjoyed what this small hatchback brings to the table as it grows up and drops the “extra in a movie” look to come into its own.
Is the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback a Good Car?
The 2019 Corolla Hatchback faces a lot of competition with the Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda 3 hatchback and the Honda Civic Hatchback. If you are looking for a fun, driver focused car all three of these are ahead of the Corolla Hatchback, but it’s able to hold its own when it comes to tech, comfort and safety features. If you want something that is more fun to drive check out the Elantra GT Sport or the new Elantra GT N-Line, which are priced similarly.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback does a lot of things right, and it is a good car if you aren’t in search of a sporty driving experience. It checks almost all the right tech boxes (give us Android Auto already) looks nice and offers a surprisingly useful backseat.
With a starting price of $21,090 for the SE and $24,090 for the XSE it’s affordable and competitive.
2019 Corolla Hatchback Design & Interior
Too often we see a product or a car try and be something it’s not with design that’s too sporty for what it is, or we see designers go the other way and allow the car to fade into the background. With the 2019 Corolla Hatchback Toyota designers were able to unleash just enough attitude and style to grab your attention. The wide and prominent grille is just subdued enough and the side and roof angles come together just right to present a fun, sportish look that goes just far enough for an affordable and sensible hatchback. The Corolla Hatchback SE I tested is a little more subdued, but if you want to push the envelope go with the XSE for extra flair.
Sleek tail lights and a hatch that quickly slopes complete the look. While the fast slope of the hatchback does cut into the cargo space, the interior is surprisingly roomy. As you’d expect in most small cars the front seat is spacious enough and the doors open wide enough for easy access, but you’d be surprised to find that the Corolla Hatchback’s rear seat is surprisingly roomy. My wife and I took her coworker to the airport and the backseat offered good legroom and ample headroom. The only catch with the headroom is if you are wearing your hair up, and you are tall, it will touch the roof. That said I am 6 foot and had enough room in the backseat.
The hatchback is handy for hauling, but you are still limited in cargo space. We packed a full size suitcase and a carry on into the Corolla Hatchback and we had to fold down the smaller portion of the back seat to fit the carry on in. The slope of the hatch combined with the interior plastic and the glass window limits stackability.
2019 Corolla Hatchback Tech & Safety
There are a lot of standard features that upgrade driving the Corolla Hatchback. This includes support for Apple CarPlay, but you won’t find Android Auto yet. Toyota is reportedly bringing Android Auto to Toyota vehicles in the future, but the Corolla Hatchback doesn’t have it yet and there is no specific timeline.
The implementation of CarPlay in the Corolla is quite nice and it is a nice way to control your music, phone, messages and access navigation and apps on the touch screen. The touchscreen is easy to use and overall the infotainment setup is nice, if you have an iPhone on hand.
Toyota offers a lot of great features in the SE including adaptive cruise control, which made our early morning airport run in traffic way easier. It’s great to see this standard, but you will need to add a package if you to add in blind spot monitoring. That’s $1,400 and includes some other upgrades. It’s pricey if you just want blind spot monitoring, but may be worth it to some buyers.
If you opt for the XSE, I recommend the optional adaptive front lighting upgrade, which lights up the road as you corner by redirecting the beam to the road instead of off into nowhere. It’s a great way to see better at night and a must have feature if you can afford the upgrade. This isn’t an option on the Corolla SE.
Driving the 2019 Corolla Hatchback
The 2019 Corolla Hatchback still isn’t a car to buy if you want an engaging drive, even with the manual. That said, the automatic version that most people will buy offers a good driving experience and one of the better continuously variable transmissions out there.
With the 2.0L Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine and the CVT on the Corolla Hatchback SE you’ll get a decent driving experience. Acceleration is OK, allowing you to merge onto the highway or overtake another car relatively easily. It’s not a sluggish car, by any means. The ride quality is above average and it held up well as we ventured ono very bumpy roads and highways. Road and engine noise does cut in, but it wasn’t loud enough to get in the way of conversation.
I found the Corolla Hatchback SE handled well, though the steering doesn’t feel very connected. It’s not a shock, and it you just want a practical and reliable car this isn’t a dealbreaker, but it takes away from the fun factor that you find in many small hatchbacks.
Fuel economy is good with 32 mpg city and 42 mpg highway on the SE with the automatic transmission. The six speed manual is rated for 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.
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