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2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE: Review

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
For the 2019 model year, Toyota added a hatchback variant to the longstanding Corolla lineup with aims of increasing sales by appealing to a customer base that differs from sedan purchasers — buyers who need a practical and efficient vehicle yet also want a car both sporty and fun. To add a bit of that sporty/fun factor, the automaker offers the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE with a two-tone package including a black roof, rear spoiler and side mirrors.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceCorolla Hatchback
When the Corolla Hatchback joined the lineup last year it replaced the Corolla iM — the model originally sold as the Scion iM before parent-company Toyota discontinued the youth-oriented brand after the 2016 model year. Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture, the Corolla Hatchback is larger, lower and wider than the previous model with revised sport-tuned suspension, a new engine and new safety technology.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceTest Vehicle
Our test vehicle was a 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE with Bronze Oxide paint combined with a new black two-tone roof. The top trim level for Corolla Hatchback, the XSE with a CVT has a starting MSRP of $24,340. Our test vehicle included a number of additional options: XSE Preferred Package, adaptive headlights, a black roof, a rear spoiler and other options for a total MSRP of $29,057 including a delivery, processing and handling fee of $955.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAXSE Preferred Package
At a cost of $1,600, the XSE Preferred Package includes a premium audio system, dynamic navigation with destination assist, JBL speakers with subwoofer and amplifier, and Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Design
Over the last few years, Toyota has been making concerted efforts to ensure that no new model design is ever considered boring. No chance of that with the Corolla Hatch, which has an aggressive front-end design, a sleek profile, distinctive character lines and an available rear spoiler. The new wider front end features a large trapezoidal lower grille and standard slim J-shaped LED headlights that wrap into the front fenders.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Design
At the rear of the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the lightweight resin hatch reduces weight, the rear window is at a steeper angle and the standard LED taillights include an inner lens diffuser. The Corolla Hatch XSE also features 18-inch bright aluminum machine-finished wheels with dark grey metallic paint.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
The front-wheel-drive Corolla Hatch XSE is powered by a 2.0-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine producing 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Our test car was equipped with Toyota’s Dynamic Shift CVT, although the Corolla Hatch is also offered with a 6-speed manual transmission. The Hatch XSE with the CVT earns EPA fuel-economy ratings of 30 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceDynamic Shift CVT
Toyota’s Dynamic Shift CVT has a physical first gear for a more direct and efficient start from a standstill before shifting to a belt mechanism at higher speeds. The Dynamic Shift CVT also includes AI Shift Control to downshift (based on braking force) and maintain engine speed during cornering (based on lateral G force). Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard, and a 10-speed Sequential Shiftmatic allows the driver to select between preset gear ratios.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAInner Space
The interior of the top-line 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE evokes simplicity but with a sporty flair, combining high-gloss elements and matte finishes. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and standard front sport seats finished with a combination of leather and fabric contribute to the sporty interior.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAXSE Standard Equipment
Additional XSE standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, instrument panel stitching, door panel stitching and a 7-inch TFT Multi-Information Display in the center of the dash that shows vehicle information, turn-by-turn navigation and vehicle settings. Above the center vents sits an 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, including physical controls for audio volume and tuning. At the front of the console ahead of the shifter is a useful storage tray. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard, and when the Corolla gets equipped with the CVT it includes full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Our test car’s Bronze Oxide paint is a more subtle and sophisticated color, but when combined with the two-tone black roof, rear spoiler and machined black 18-inch wheels, the Corolla Hatch XSE transforms into a hot hatch that attracts attention.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAOn the Road
In keeping with its exterior looks, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is fun to drive — the 2.0-liter Dynamic Force engine provides enough power for drivers to forget that it really is a practical, efficient ride. Sure, the 6-speed manual transmission would add to the fun, but the Dynamic Shift CVT does a decent job for a CVT. The fixed first gear improves the driving experience, making it feel more direct at launch. It mimics a step-gear transmission with upshifts unless under full acceleration, and includes 10 preset ratios for manual shifting. That said it’s still a CVT, and although it’s efficient it detracts from the sporty nature of the car during spirited driving.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.5
The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE is practical and efficient but also sporty and fun. The two-tone black roof combined with the machined / painted wheels adds additional sporty flair that attracts attention. For buyers who want a little fun with their everyday commute, the Corolla Hatchback XSE becomes a worthy contender.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Blue Flame

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Bronze Oxide with two-tone-black roof

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Bronze Oxide with two-tone-black roof

© Toyota Motor Sales USA2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Blue Flame

© Toyota Motor Sales USA2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Blue Flame

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Bronze Oxide with two-tone-black roof

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Bronze Oxide with two-tone-black roof

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Published on: July 30, 2020

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