Back in 2016, when the Scion brand was dealt a death blow, the Scion IM hatchback was rebadged as a Toyota Corolla. Now, for the 2019 model year, a totally new Toyota Corolla Hatchback, like the Phoenix, has risen from the ashes with vast improvements in technological development, performance attributes and especially in its emotionally stirring styling.
This newest iteration Toyota Corolla Hatchback is not simply another rebadge, it comes with a complete redesign from the ground up, based on an entirely new chassis, a new and more efficient powertrain, along with an enhanced menu of safety oriented technology, above the level that one would expect from a compact entry level vehicle.
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is based on Toyota’s new TNGA global platform architecture and it is lower, wider and longer than before. It is also 60 percent stiffer than the outgoing iM model, resulting in providing the MacPherson front and multilink rear suspension with a more solid ride. And, despite the fact that it is larger and comes with more equipment and features, the lighter components used in its construction, such as the resin composite rear hatchback door, contribute to keeping the 3,060-pound curb weight of the 2019 models in line with that of the previous generation, which also results in improved EPA fuel economy estimates of 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. It also has wider front and rear tracks, and a longer wheelbase.
In terms of its visual appeal, the 2019 Corolla Hatchback displays an indomitable style, featuring a design form that is distinctive, dynamic, and muscular yet sophisticated. It is a blend of meticulously emotional lines, creases, and surfaces, showcasing its athletic sport coupe traits. Its hood sits two inches lower than before, affording passengers excellent forward visibility. The rounded nose and trapezoidal shaped lower grille is an extended evolution of Toyota’s Under Priority Catamaran and Keen Look design philosophies, both of which emphasize the increased width of the Hatchback. The chiseled character lines of the profile pull together the protuding flanks of both ends, delivering a well planted persona, not commonly seen amongst its peers. Wheel sizes range from 16-inches to 18-inches with unique designs.
The new rearend treatment conveys a focus on athletic presence. The hatch, now made from TSOP (Toyota Super Olefin Polymer) and ABS (Acronitrile Butadiene Styrene) is not only lightweight but is set at a steeper angle (14 degrees more forward) contributing to the ultimate sportiness. The all LED rear taillamps feature a diffusing inner lens designed to highlight the Hatch’s broad stance. There are two trim grades: SE and XSE that provide distinct visual differences.
Propelling this slick new Corolla Hatch is Toyota’s Dynamic Force 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve 4-cylinder, transversely mounted front engine with Toyota electronic Direct /Port Injection with Dual VVT-I that cranks out 168 horsepower at 6,600 rpm while developing 151 pound feet of torque at 4,800 rpm for an increase of 31 horses and 25 pound feet of torque over the iM that it replaces.
Motive force reaches the front wheels via a new Dynamic Shift CVT with physical first launch gear and 10 step shift points via Paddle shifters. A six-speed manual gearbox is also available, featuring integrated software that provides rev-matching for downshifts as well as smoother upshifts, hill start assist and stall suppression. These features are activated by switching on the “iMT” mode. Unfortunately the assist software defaults to off when the ignition is switched off.
Sumptuously Simple Inside
Moving into the cabin, there is a simple yet sensuous inviting warmth. The supportive sport seats, separate front passengers with a neat instrument panel that lends an open, harmonious feeling thanks to its 0.9-inch thinner upper surface and 1.7-inch wider center console. A standard high-resolution 8-inch multimedia touchscreen. resides at the center of the instrument panel, providing access to vehicle settings, audio controls, navigation, smartphone, and Entune 3.0 apps. Climate controls, located below the multimedia portal, are fashioned in a bright, highly visible digitized configuration. Entertainment and connectivity features abound. This generation of Entune features new Verizon 4G LTE-connected technologies, including remote access and monitoring via Toyota’s phone and smartwatch applications and Alexa Skill integrations. Apple CarPlay is standard for the new generation of Entune, but Android users will have to make do make do with the Scout GPS Link app integration.
My test 2019 Toyota Corolla 5-passenger Hatchback was in XSE trim with the CVT transmission. The exterior was sprayed a bright, bold Blue with interior done in Black. The base sticker read $24,000., white the as tested price came to $25,010.
Later on my home turf, I was able to spend a week in an XSE trim Hatch, but with an Oxide Bronze metallic exterior finish and a Charcoal and Gray interior. It’s base sticker was set at $24,090., while options and the delivery, processing and handling fee bumped the final tally to $27,823.
SUMMARY: There are sure to be those who will complain that the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback doesn’t fall into the “Hot Hatch” realm. Yes, there are certainly hatches that deliver a more cutting edge level of performance, but so what. The Corolla Hatch represents a considerable improvement in both handling characteristics and road holding stability than before, and in any case, it is a hoot to drive in a spirited fashion. Not only is it FUN in capital letters, it also possesses a wealth of safety features including Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. It becomes the first It will be the first Toyota model to boast the second generation of the automaker’s Toyota Safety Sense driver aid technology as standard fare. The upgraded system includes improvements to the automatic emergency braking and is now capable of totally stopping the car at speeds below roughly 37 mph, aiding in collision prevention. Cyclist detection has been added, along with low-light pedestrian detection enhancing nighttime safety.
When equipped with the CVT, the Corolla hatch also features standard full-speed adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop if traffic ahead slows down. With the manual gearbox, there’s still adaptive cruise, but it can only be activated above 25 mph and will disengage when vehicle speed drops below 15 mph to prevent stalling. CVT models also feature standard Lane Tracing Assist that utilizes cameras to detect lane makers.
TSS 2.0 also includes a camera-based sign assist system that reads road signs (such as stop, yield, speed limit or do not enter) as they’re passed and displays up to the three most recent signs in the instrument cluster.
The standard reversing camera is also added, making for a lot of standard safety equipment at a budget price. Drivers also have the option of adding blind-spot monitoring to CVT models.
All in all, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is a great looking hatch at a bargain price considering its healthy inventory of technological features. If not considered “hot”, try on “Haute” for want of a better term. Look for TRD to come up with aftermarket “go-faster” goodies who just have to have more grunt from their hatch.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Base Price: $24,090.
Price as Tested: $25,010.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve Dynamic Force 4-cylinder with Toyota electronic Direct /Port Injection with Dual VVT-i
Horsepower (bhp): 168 @ 6,600 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 151 @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: Dynamic Shift CVT with physical first launch gear and 10 step shift points and Paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD.
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar – diameter TBD.
Rear – Multi-link with stabilizer bar and springs – diameter TBD
Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, VSC, TRAC, EBD, BA and Smart Stop Technology.
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport 5000 – 225/40 R18 A/S bright machine faced 5-stylized “V”-spoke alloy wheels with dark gray painted inners.
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Length Overall: 169.9 inches
Width: 69.9 inches
Height: 57.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,060 lbs.
Turning Circle: Not listed.
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 30 mpg city / 38-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.33
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.