Toyota's 2019 Corolla hatchback is an eye-catcher.
A front-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact Corolla comes in two styles. They are a sedan with a trunk or a hatchback with a liftgate opening to a load floor. The sedan continues into 2019 with a mundane design. On the other hand, the brand-new hatchback is a hoot. The design is captivating. It begins with an aggressive front end with a protruding honeycomb grill scoop and ends with a flashy spoiler atop the hatch's liftgate.
Twin (parallelogram) exhaust slits (10 inches wide, one inch tall), nine-by-one-inch slim brake lights and a pronounced rounded liftgate are highlights of the design at the rear. The scoop in front leads the way in this hatchback design. Distinctive body moldings and sharp lines accentuate the sides. Since this was a top-of-the-line XSE model, the machined alloy wheels supported P225 all-season tires.
If a Corolla is on the shopping list, the sedan is OK. It is priced right, is reliable and offers economy and functionality. But for those who want a great design, the advice is to choose the slightly higher-priced hatchback.
If a raffish design is chosen, a sporty transmission should follow. Corollas offer an automatic transmission and a six-speed manual. The tested hatchback came with a slick stick shift. The shifter traveled through the gates smoothly. Shifts were not particularly short, such as in traditional sports cars but they were not lengthy either. Industry studies indicate that 95 percent of new-vehicle buyers choose an automatic transmission. The remaining five percent choose a manual. This hatchback's design deserves to be paired with a manual.
Corolla pricing starts at $18,700. The tested XSE's suggested manufacturer retail price was $22,990. The spoiler was an additional $375 and the body side moldings an extra $239. A coin holder that also serve as an ash tray cup, if a smoker, costs $26. It, too, was in the tested XSE.
The 2-liter, 168-horsepower, dual overhead cam four-cylinder gasoline engine averaged 32.3 miles per gallon in fuel usage. The XSE was driven hard, both on the Interstate system and on state, city and county roads. Most of the driving was in suburbia with one person aboard.
Niceties included a power driver's seat, color-keyed heated and power exterior mirrors, power windows (express for driver) and door locks, remote entry, pushbutton start, 12-volt outlet, leather trim for seats, shifter, steering wheel, dashboard and side panels.
Standard XSE safety fare includes traction and stability controls, airbags in front, sides and overhead, brake assist, antilock braking system, latches with lower anchors (behind plastic flaps so easy to reach) and tethers for child seats , blind spot monitor, radar cruise control, lane departure alert and steering assist, automatic high beams, pedestrian detection system (at low speeds, less than 20 miles per hour), pre-collision warning with automatic braking and road sign assist. That assist means road speed signs are read and the information is transferred in white onto a black background on the information screen behind the manual tilt and telescoping adjustable steering wheel.
The eight-inch, six-speaker sound system includes Bluetooth hands-free phone, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports with one for charging and the other for media purposes, plus AM-FM-satellite radio. Controls are easy to reach. The sound system is relatively simple and is designed for smartphone users.
The ride is relatively quiet, although road noise will seep into the cabin. Leg room is minimal in the rear and adequate in front for anyone less than six-feet, four-inches tall.
The carpeted and lighted cargo area is notable for its flatness. After the rear seats have been folded, the 17.8 cubic feet of storage space has been increased to 23.3 cubic feet. This does not compare with storage space of competitors but one must remember the floor does fold almost flat for storage of bulky items.
Besides the three-year, 36,000-mile standard and five-year or 60,000-powertrain warranties, Toyota offers free scheduled routine maintenance for two-years or 24,000-miles to qualified buyers. Those buyers will have a substantial amount of money paid toward the new vehicle. See a dealer for details.
Vehicle: XSE model of 2019 Toyota Corolla
Type: front-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger hatchback
Engine: 2-liter, 168-horsepower, dual overhead cam four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed manual
Weight: 3,060 pounds
Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
Fuel: unleaded regular
Wheelbase, length, height, width, ground clearance in inches: 103.9, 172, 57.1, 70.5, 5.1
Leg room: 42 inches front, 29.9 inches rear
Cargo: 17.8 cubic feet rear seat up,
Tires (P225), machined alloy wheels: 18-inch, temporary spare
Brakes: discs, 11.5-inch ventilated front, 10.5-inch solid rear
Suspension: struts front, trailing wishbone rear
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain