Adding some extra spice to the recipe

Toyota first introduced the Corolla nameplate way back in 1966, and since then, an incredible 11 generations have come and gone. The latest twelfth-generation broke cover in March of 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show, and with it, Toyota unveiled a fresh hot hatchback iteration that promises more fun thanks to sporty suspension tuning, a rev-happy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an available six-speed manual transmission, and snappy good looks.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Exterior Design

- * Under Priority design language looks good here
- * Hot hatch proportions
- * Sharp angles, deep cuts
- * LED lighting at both ends
- * 16- to 18-inch wheels
- * Lightweight construction for the hatch
- * Available adaptive lighting feature
- * Lower, wider, and shorter than the iM

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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The fresh styling language is dubbed “Under Priority.”

The first thing that should grab you is the way this thing looks. Toyota gave the Corolla an all-new exterior style for the 2018 model year, and we think it looks pretty dang good on the hatchback body style.

Toyota says the fresh aesthetic was penned following a philosophy dubbed “Shooting Robust,” a nod to the sportier intentions this thing brings to the table. Meanwhile, the design language is called “Under Priority,” which makes its presence known in front thanks to a huge trapezoidal grille.

We’ve seen Under Priority before, and usually deride the results as garish and way over the top. However, in the case of the 2019 Corolla Hatchback, it actually works surprisingly well. The horizontal shape of the nose adds extra visual width, while the lower character line keeps the mesh insert from spilling out onto the chin. What’s more, all those sharp lines add an appropriate level of aggression for a hot hatchback.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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We usually don’t like Toyota’s huge grille look, but on the Corolla Hatchback, it actually works surprisingly well.

The headlights also add to the aesthetic, with narrow, pointed housings that swoop up and out from a centrally placed badge just above the primary intake. Lighting the way forward is a set of Bi-Beam LEDs.

Moving to the sides, we find the front overhang was decreased by 0.8 inches, while the rear overhang was increased by 0.8 inches, essentially moving the body rearward on its wheelbase. This helps to enhance the car’s natural forward-leaning rake, which is exaggerated further by the upward-slanting window line. In combination with a relatively flat roofline, this pads the tail section of the vehicle, emphasizing the hatch area.

In the corners, you’ll find a variety of different wheel designs. Sizing for those funky rollers ranges between 16 and 18 inches in diameter, with alloys equipped as standard across the range.

Viewed from the rear, the Corolla hatch tapers towards the top, while flaring out around the hips. The taillights mirror the headlight housings in their design, carving into the flanks with a check-mark shape. Chrome elements are found on the twin tailpipes and optional diffuser element, while LEDs are standard for the taillights.

It’s also worth mentioning that the hatch is made from a blend of TSOP (Toyota Super Olefin Polymer) and ABD (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), which helps to cut out weight and improve both performance and fuel economy.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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It’s also worth mentioning that the hatch is made from a blend of lightweight materials, which helps to improve both performance and fuel economy.

When it comes to differentiation between the SE and XSE trim levels, the Corolla comes equipped with larger 18 wheels on the top-trim XSE, plus LED fog lights and a chrome surround for the front grille. The XSE also gets an Adaptive Front Lighting System, which will focus the forward beams around corners automatically, assisting in those curvy nighttime outings.

Exterior paint options include the head-turning Blue Flame, as seen in the above pictures. Further options include Blizzard Pearl, Silver Metallic, Midnight Black, Galactic Aqua Mica, Scarlet, and Oxide Bronze.

Compared to the preceding Corolla iM, the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatch was lowered by 0.4 inches, made wider by 0.6 inches, and made shorter by 0.6 inches. It’s also got wider tracks front and back and a longer wheelbase, while the hood is two inches lower than before to help improve forward visibility.

Check out the full exterior dimension breakdown in the table below.

Toyota Corolla Hatchback exterior dimensions 2019 model year measurement 2018 model year measurement (difference)
Wheelbase 103.9 inches 102.4 inches (+ 1.5 inches)
Overall Length 169.9 inches 170.5 inches (- 0.6 inches)
Overall Width 69.9 inches 69.3 inches (+ 0.6 inches)
Overall Height 57.1 inches 57.5 inches (- 0.4 inches)

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Interior Design

- * Quiet and comfortable inside
- * Lackluster rear visibility
- * Horizontal interior layout feels spacious
- * Plenty of room inside
- * Optional Qi wireless phone charging
- * Tons of infotainment features
- * Standard 8.0-inch touchscreen
- * Standard Apple CarPlay
- * Six-speaker audio as standard, eight-speaker optional
- * Voice control, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports
- * Sport seats are comfortable and supportive
- * Available 7.0-inch driver’s info display
- * Tons of standard safety systems

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Interior
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At no time was I bombarded by the usual hot hatch cacophony of road and wind noise.

Step into the cabin, and the 2019 Corolla Hatchback offers seating for up to five passengers, plus a little extra space in the trunk for cargo.

In my driving experience, I found it to be quiet and comfortable. At no time was I bombarded by the usual hot hatch cacophony of road and wind noise, which is a testament to Toyota’s ability to add a surprising level of refinement across its lineup. The ride was also surprisingly even, handling bumpy pavement with aplomb and very little jostling.

My only real complaint would have to be with rear visibility, where the view-obstructing hatch kept me guessing what was directly behind the vehicle. There are definitely some blind spots back there, which could potentially cause a few problems when reversing.

The rest of it, however, is solid. I liked the simplified layout it’s got going on up front, with a wide, horizontal design that makes it feel larger than you’d expect.

The 2019 model year brings with it a thinner upper dash portion and a wider center console between the two passengers. The center stack mounts controls for the various vehicle settings, stereo, navigation, smartphone, and apps, while a digital readout just below the touchscreen is used for the climate control. Below this is a little nook or tray, placed ahead of the shifter, which is the perfect spot to stash your smartphone. This tray also comes optionally with a Qi wireless phone charger.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Interior
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The wide, horizontal design makes the interior feel larger than you’d expect.

The sitters use a sporty, side-bolstered design and get some updated cushioning for 2019. During my drive, I found them to be comfortable and supportive, even on longer stints behind the wheel.

Standard spec includes a leather shift knob, three-door SmartKey system, and automatic up/down for the windows. There’s also six-speaker audio, a suite of Safety Connect features, an auxiliary audio jack, and two USB ports.

Glossy and matte trim elements are scattered throughout. There’s also silver accents, piano black lacquer, and optional contrast stitching, all of which is surprisingly high-end for a model at this price point.

Of course, given the target demographic on a car like this, Toyota also went all out on the infotainment front. Running it all is the Entune 3.0 Audio platform, which includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the dash, 6-speaker audio, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay (finally!), Amazon Alexa support, the Entune 3.0 app suite, Wi-Fi Connect, Scout GPS Link compatibility, voice recognition, Bluetooth support, and a customizable home screen.

Go for the optional Entune Audio Plus system (standard on XSE models), and you’ll get SiriusXM radio, Entune 3.0 Connected Services, and Remote Connect. Finally, there’s the Entune 3.0 Premium system, offered as an available option on the CVT-equipped XSE model, which replaces the 6-speaker stereo with an 8-speaker system from JBL. The upgrade increases power to 800 watts, while also adding 6.7-inch subwoofers in the doors, sealed inner door panels, and Clari-Fi sound technology. This top package also adds Dynamic Voice Recognition, Dynamic Navigation, Dynamic POI Search, and a few other neat tricks.

Making the most of the sound system selection is a reduction in NVH levels thanks to extra sound-absorbing material, better door seals, and other bits and pieces. There’s also a set of Aero Stabilizing Fins along the taillights, which helps to eliminate exterior wind noise.

In terms of creature comforts, the XSE grade adds in dual-zone climate control, leather and fabric upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power adjusting drivers seat, unique stitching, and a 7.0-inch Multi-Information Display behind the steering wheel.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Interior
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The 2019 Corolla is also the first North American application of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system.

The 2019 Corolla is also the first North American application of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system, equipped as standard across the line. This comes with features like Lane Departure Warning, Lane Tracing Assist, a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Sport Monitor, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (downgraded to standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control for models equipped with a manual transmissions), Automatic High Beams, and Road Sign Assist. Rounding out the safety gear is all the traditional passive systems you’d expect, such as seven standard airbags, electronic stability controls, ABS, and EBD.

The Corolla’s interior space dimensions were also modified for the 2019 model year, with front-seated passengers getting a lower hip point, down to 10.82 inches. In back is 18 cubic feet of cargo space, which isn’t amazing, but it works just fine with the rear seats folded down. Final details include 24-ounce cup holders in front and 16-ounce cup holders in the rear.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback interior dimensions First row Second row
Headroom 42 inches 38 inches
Shoulder Room 54 inches 54.4 inches
Cargo Room 18 cubic feet
Passenger Volume 85 cubic feet

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Performance

- * Inline 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
- * 168 horsepower at 6,600 rpm
- * 151 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm
- * FWD only
- * Could use a pinch more torque
- * Six-speed manual with iMT is newbie friendly
- * Pedal placement makes heel-toe very difficult
- * Sequential Shiftmatic CVT gets 10 simulated gears
- * Electronic parking brake
- * Lightweight and stiff platform
- * Just over 3,000 pounds for curb weight
- * Revised suspension geometry front and back
- * Four-wheel disc brakes

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Drivetrain
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The 2.0-liter is both smaller and lighter than the 1.8-liter four-cylinder it replaces.

Just behind that large central intake in the nose, you’ll find an inline 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which is offered as the exclusive powerplant option. Dubbed the M20A-FKS, the 2.0-liter is both smaller and lighter than the 1.8-liter four-cylinder it replaces, effectively lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity. It also offer improved NVH ratings thanks to a more rigid crank case, lighter resin cylinder head cover, and a ribbed oil pan.

Standout features include Dynamic-Force direct fuel injection, which combines high-pressure direct injection and low pressure port fuel injection. There’s also Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligence), which uses an electric motor rather than oil pressure to change up the valve timing for either more power or greater efficiency as the situation may warrant. The compression ratio is set at 13:1, while 16 valves and double overhead cams top it off.

Peak output is rated at 168 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 151 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Compared to the outgoing 1.8-liter engine, the 2.0-liter produces an extra 31 horsepower and 25 pound-feet of torque.

The drivetrain setup is FWD across the range. Fuel requirements are set at a budget-friendly 87 octane. Fuel mileage will be announced at a later date.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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Toyota has yet to reveal official 0-to-60 mph times, but my instincts would slot it into the mid-to-low-8-second range.

While Toyota has yet to reveal official 0-to-60 mph times, my instincts would slot it into the mid-to-low-8-second range.

Dig into the throttle a bit, and the response feels a bit squishy and vague on initial tip-in. Overall, it’s perfectly suited for cruising, but if you’re busy seeking apexes, it might be a bit too soft.

Overall, it would have been nice if the Corolla offered a more spontaneous throttle feel and a bit of extra low-end twist. That said, the aftermarket is gonna throw a turbo on this thing quicker than you can say “what about the 86?”, so if you really need the extra ponies, you can always just ditch the warranty and add boost yourself.

The thing is, we think 170 horsepower is just about right for a car in this segment, as we’ll explain when we get to talking about the chassis and suspension. Before we do that, though, let’s talk about the transmission options.

Heading the list for enthusiasts is a six-speed manual with intelligent iMT rev-matching technology. Basically, this feature will automatically blip the throttle when downshifting, making for a smoother gear change.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a racing technique dubbed “heel-toe?” The iMT feature is basically the same thing, but rather than executing some fancy footwork, the system will automatically do it for you.

Overall, the system works great on city streets. I found it to be extremely newbie friendly, with an uber light clutch feel and hassle-free shifting characteristics. The brakes will also automatically hold you in place when starting off on a hill, preventing you from rolling backwards, which reduces the anxiety of driving a stick even further.

Unfortunately, the pedal layout makes it nearly impossible to heel-toe yourself, but with the accuracy of the iMT, it’s really not a big deal. We would love the opportunity to try it on an autocross course to see how it works in a high-performance situation.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Interior
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Enthusiasts will wanna get theirs with a six-speed manual transmission.

Further standout features for the six-speed include a reduction of 15 pounds as compared to the outgoing manual trans, down to 88 pounds overall. It’s also nearly a full inch shorter. Toyota says that makes it “one of the world’s smallest transmissions,” which helps the whole car be more efficient.

Unfortunately, Toyota expects only a small number of buyers to choose the manual, and as such, it’s also offering a Dynamic-Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Not only is the CVT expected to offer greater efficiency at the gas pump, but with a set of Sequential Shiftmatic paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, it also comes with a simulated 10 speeds to play with.

Interestingly, the CVT comes a very useful launch gear, which is a first for a passenger vehicle CVT. The launch gears helps it improve low-end efficiency, while also decreasing the CVT’s tendency to feel spongy on launch.

We definitely felt it working its magic during our driving experience, and while we here at TopSpeed usually rail against CVT’s, the Corolla’s was relatively tolerable. The shift paddles were a bit gimmicky, and we’d probably just leave it in automatic all time, but overall, the CVT did its job.

One thing that did annoy me was the electronic parking brake. It wasn’t always obvious when it was on or off, and we definitely would have preferred an actual lever, even if it made the interior space a bit less tidy. I mean, this is supposed to be a hot hatch, right? How can you do hand brake turns without a proper hand brake?

All joking aside, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is definitely entertaining to drive in the corners. Under the skin is Toyota’s latest TNGA C platform, which mixes aluminum and high-strength steel to make it lightweight and stiff. There’s also some extra bracing onboard, all of which helps to increase torsional rigidity by a very impressive 60 percent over the outgoing Corolla iM. Not only does this which improves the handling, but it also smooths out the ride quality.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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On the lightness front, the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatch weighs just 3,060 pounds.

On the lightness front, the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatch weighs just 3,060 pounds. That’s not too shabby for a modern compact, and you can definitely feel it translate into nimbleness and agility on the road.

The next part of the equation is the sport-tuned suspension, which was tweaked and tuned to make the hatch even more interesting when driven with alacrity.

In front, there are MacPherson struts, which get a revised geometry with updated bound stopper clearance and a new stabilizer mounting location. There’s also new spring rates and damper settings. Meanwhile, the rear utilizes a multi-link set-up. The shock and spring settings were revised back here as well, while the geometry was altered with a fresh lower arm location to improve the toe-in angle when cornering hard. What’s more, the shocks were moved forward on the body to enhance available interior room.

All told, Toyota says it managed to reduce suspension friction by 40 percent, while also lowering the center of gravity by 0.8 inches.

Making the connection with the road are tires sized at 225/40 when mounted on the optional 18-inch wheels, and 205/55 when mounted on the standard 16-inchers. All-season rubber is used across the board.

Under the rollers are disc brakes front and back, with 11.5-inch ventilated rotors in front and 10.5-inch solid rotors in the rear.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Pricing

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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Sales for the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback commence this summer. There are two trim levels to choose from, starting with the SE and topped by the XSE.

Toyota has yet to announce official pricing, but it’s expected to slot in at around $20,000.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Competition

Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf High Resolution Exterior
- image 694762

While not quite as long-lived as the Corolla, the Golf is still considered an absolute bastion of the hatchback segment. The most recent seventh generation reflects that pedigree with a mix of practicality, refinement, and fun. Making it go is a turbocharged four-cylinder doling out 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, all of which routes to the front wheels by way of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. A run to 60 mph takes 7.3 seconds. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, while the interior is upscale in its approach. The exterior styling is also far more mature than that of the Corolla, which you could take as either a pro or a con, depending on your disposition. Pricing starts at $20,910.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.

Mazda3

2016 - 2018 Mazda3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 639255

If performance is a top concern, then the Mazda3 is definitely worthy of your consideration. The suspension and ride are much firmer, but the extra jostling is absolutely worth it as soon as the road gets twisty. Making it go is a top-trim four-cylinder making upwards of 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, which hits the wheels through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The 3 is also quite the looker, offered in both a sedan and hatchback body style. Pricing starts at $18,095.

Read our full review of the 2016 - 2018 Mazda3.

Final Thoughts

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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Toyota could definitely use some extra spice in its lineup, and although the Corolla isn’t the hottest hatchback we’ve ever tasted, it’s a helluva lot more interesting than we expected.

Toyota says it’s targeting buyers 35 years-old and younger with the 2019 Corolla Hatchback, and as such, it’s ramping up the marketing efforts though youth-oriented campaigns like a stint in the Formula Drift series.

We think that’s great. Toyota could definitely use some extra spice in its lineup, and although the Corolla isn’t the hottest hatchback we’ve ever tasted, it’s a helluva lot more interesting than we expected.

To up the ante, we’re anticipating TRD (Toyota’s in-house) will get in on the action, most likely with basic performance upgrades like a new intake, exhaust, and lowering springs. We also wouldn’t mind seeing a new body kit for even more visual flair.

And while Toyota is saying it’ll likely move just 5 percent of its sales in the manual configuration, we’d love to see those numbers get pumped up, as we think the six-speed is a fantastic choice for those enthusiasts looking to dip their toe into the three-pedal pool.

In the end, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is the right choice for someone who wants a comfortable, reliable, relatively practical hatch that’s not lacking anything in the fun factor. It’ll bring a smile to your face in the corners and it’s still quite forgiving if you muck it up.

Now, Toyota, about that turbo…

  • Leave it
    • * Could use a pinch more torque
    • * Rear visibility not the greatest
    • * Heavy competition from all sides

References

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Tickles Our Hot Hatch Fancy

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Interior
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The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s Manual Gearbox Is Extremely Newbie Friendly

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback - Driven Exterior
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The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Actually Looks Great With A Huge Grille

Watch Out Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf Fans - Toyota has a New Corolla Hatchback Heading to the New York Auto Show Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

2019 Toyota Avalon Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2019 Toyota Avalon.

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