Sexy Sushi: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Driving Impressions [Video]

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback still lets you row your own gears! Or you can have a new kind of CVT.

Check back soon for our driving impressions video!

While no speed demon, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is a vastly more exciting driver than the vehicle it replaces, the Toyota Corolla iM. It’s lighter on its toes, has more power and is improved in nearly every measurable way. It looks good too.

Power is all-new. The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback has a 168 horsepower direct-injected, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine that produces 151 lb-ft of torque. There are two new transmissions available. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) which has a additional launching gear; kind of like a first gear that switches to the CVT around 25 mph. This helps (a lot) with off-the-line acceleration. The all-new six-speed manual transmission uses rev-matching and stall-mitigation technology and is a much more rewarding manual transmission than the Corolla iM’s transmission.

Considering that this vehicle has 31 additional horsepower over the old one, the improved transmissions make for a much more enjoyable driver. Yes – BOTH transmissions are pretty good. The CVT behaves like a regular automatic transmission, feeling just fast enough off the line to pass meandering traffic.

On the highway, it drones a bit, which is typical for a CVT.

For fun-seekers, the new 6-speed manual transmission does not disappoint. Throws are a bit long, but engagement is positive – you’ll know when you’re in gear without mis-shifting often. At lower speeds, the engine can automatically rev-match as you down-shift. The stall mitigation setting seems to goose the power a bit when you’re under-accelerating; however, it felt superfluous.

Downshifting is rewarded with a pleasant growl – that needs to be louder.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback looks the part, but does it go as well as it looks? [Photo: Toyota]

Fuel economy, new features

Official MPG numbers were not available at the time of this post going live. With that being said, we averaged about 25 MPG driving aggressively on back roads and city streets. We filmed the drive in and around San Diego, CA.

Both vehicles only have a few downsides, the main issue for both is excessive road noise. It reminded me of a Mazda 3 from a few years back. Tire, road and wind noise is noticeable even when you’re listening to the fairly nice-sounding stereo. That entertainment system has standard Entune™ 3.0 with 8-inch touch-screen and Apple CarPlay – but, inexplicably, no Android Auto.

‘The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is based on Toyota’s now widely used TNGA platform that also underpins vehicles like the Toyota CH-R and Toyota Camry. It also has the newest edition of Toyota’s safety system (Toyota Safety Sense 2.0) standard and an available radar-based cruise control that works with both transmissions.’ – – TFLcar

Other JBL audio system highlights include:

  • Free Standing Horn Tweeters
  • Located in the A-pillar at ear level for optimal high-frequency performance
  • Next-Generation HID8 Amplifier
  • 800-watts of total power, with better performance and efficiency
  • 6.7-inch Door Subwoofers
  • More powerful deep-bass response
  • Premium JBL Branding
  • Located on A-pillar, door trim, and head unit
  • Sealed Inner Door Panels
  • Promote cleaner, more power bass
  • Wide Dispersion Midrange Speakers
  • Provide full range sound for rear passengers
  • Clari-Fi Technology.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback interior
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback supports Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto. [Photo: Toyota]

Is it fun, though?

While the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback feels like a fun car that could use a serious power upgrade, it never ceased to put a smile on my face. That was mainly due to the excellent suspension tuning. It’s no GTI, but it holds corners well and its overall ride comfort must be near best-in-class. Having a car that handles well and rides comfortably is rare. Despite having an electric parking brake, which is no fun in a “sporty” car, the system works well. The four-wheel disc brakes felt very strong and were resolute despite hard backroad flogging.

The steering is lighter than I would prefer and it didn’t communicate road-feel at all. Still, it was light and effort-free, which is a “plus” for many. For most drivers, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback easily goes where pointed even during hard driving,  it’s a snap to park and easy as pie during the commute. Body lean is present, but it’s never dramatic.

All in all, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback surprised many with its well-rounded road manners, comprehensive list of safety features (it’s the first Toyota in the United States that has Toyota Safety Sense 2.0) and cheeky personality. Sure, it needs a few things like more power, Android Auto, less road noise and real exhaust pipes – but all that is overshadowed by its demeanor. Try one for yourself this summer when they hit the market!

Sorry, price and EPA numbers were unavailable at the time of this publishing; however, the Toyota Corolla iM’s base prices was $18,750 and it’s a pretty good guess that the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback will be priced similarly.

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