2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: So Long, Scion

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 toyota corolla hatchback so long scion

We can put any speculation that Toyota wants to cull its five-door Corolla iM to rest right now. The automaker has revealed an all-new 2019 model ahead of its official debut at next week’s New York International Auto Show, but with a new body and platform comes a slight name change.

The last vestiges of the defunct Scion brand, under which the iM was born in 2015, is now gone. Thus, the Corolla iM becomes simply the Corolla Hatchback. With this model, based on the European-market Auris, Toyota attempts to correct a couple of its predecessor’s glaring flaws.

While we never expected razor-sharp handling and performance from the earlier iM, that model possessed all the heart-pounding thrills of a tablet of valium. With its lighter TNGA platform and lowered center of gravity, the new hatch seeks to make amends.

Torsional rigidity is up 60 percent, Toyota claims, thanks to the use of aluminum and ultra-high tensile steel. Front and rear, the hatch’s revised suspension promises improved damping and a more refined ride. It’s possible a driver might just feel like tossing it around. We’ll be the judge.

Overall, the new Corolla hatch grows 1.5 inches in wheelbase and length, and adds 1.2 inches in width. Height shrinks by an inch.

As ho-hum as the previous iM’s ride was, the model performed worse in two categories: front seat comfort and power. This author wasn’t the only TTACer to discover the iM’s shocking lack of seat and armrest support, and the model’s ancient 1.8-liter four-cylinder and droning continuously variable transmission hardly screamed “performance!”

For 2019, Toyota stripped out the 1.8-liter and old-school CVT, replacing them with a new Dynamic-Force 2.0-liter mill and a revised CVT that actually takes acceleration into mind. Torque specs aren’t available, but horsepower stands at 168 hp, up 31 hp from the iM. This new engine — lighter than its predecessor — features a 13:1 compression ratio and numerous attempts to reduce NVH.

The CVT, which boasts 10 pre-programmed shift points to go with its sport mode, also features a launch gear. When starting from a standstill, the transmission utilizes a gear drive to get the car off the line, then reverts back to belt drive for efficiency. A wider gear range (class-leading, says Toyota) should improve fuel economy. Of course, if paddle-shifting a CVT leaves you cold, there’s still a six-speed manual on offer, now with downshift rev-matching.

Our second gripe — a total lack of comfort — might also be eliminated in this new model. Toyota specifically mentions revised seat cushioning, promising “a more natural body posture.” It’s even possible the driver’s left hand might be able to reach the steering wheel when his or her elbow is resting on the door-mounted armrest. One can dream…

The Corolla Hatchback, available in SE and XSE trim, throws a lot of standard kit at buyers. There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen even in the entry model, plus Apple CarPlay, Entune 3.0 audio, and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assist features. Automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection are included in the TSS 2.0 package.

Sales start this summer, but we’ll get a chance to poke around the car in New York next week. Pricing has not yet been announced.

[Images: Toyota]

Join the conversation
4 of 40 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 24, 2018

    Because Toyota. A 300,000 mile first car or commuter beast. A hatch and seats that fold down for Ikea/Home Depot runs. You won'tlove it but you want hate it and it'll be cheap to run. Could Bark do a column on the average ATP of Japanese vs American new car sales. I don't think we'd be shocked to find that Toyota/Honda dealers are a license to print money.

    • See 1 previous
    • El scotto El scotto on Mar 24, 2018

      @JohnTaurus Hate to disappoint you mon ami. I spent a good 20 years driving an F-150 or a Ranger every work day. Some weekend days on the farm. I had a 67 Mustang convertible with the pony interior and a red 87 Vanilla Ice 5.0 Mustang convertible. When it came time to trade my Escape, transmission going out at 135k miles, the Ford dealer didn't have anything I wanted. It came down to a CPO Lincoln Mk-something or a CPO Lexus. Toyota reliability won. Now do you mean popular by request or as a percentage of rental fleet? Numbers do come in handy at times like that. Sheesh, not another Nissan from Enterprise.

  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Mar 24, 2018

    It looks about 150% better (though I'm not exactly thrilled with the front end, its still a remarkable improvement), sounds like it'll drive decent and be decent to be inside of for a change. I'm glad they didn't give up on our market just when the car finally became worth a look.

  • David S. "Stellantis" a woke company showing off evil ICE trucks!?! Bernie Sanders is having a stroke!!
  • JMII I drove a Dakota Quad Cab 4.7l for 20 years waiting for a replacement... well sorry Dodge/RAM but its too late - I bought a Santa Cruz and so far its been perfect as a replacement.
  • Bfisch81 Try and find a bedside clock radio with AM anymore - they are getting harder to find.
  • JMII I can't remember the last time I tuned into AM. College football games would be the only reason. I have XM so that covers 99% of my listening. If I didn't have AM I would just stream from the my phone.
  • Wolfwagen Living near NYC there are plenty of AM radio stations.While on only listen to 1 or 2 religiously, I have 5 stations present because they all do the traffic at different times. Even though I use Waze, it's good to get an idea of what is going on (i.e., what the delays are at all the Hudson river crossings), especially when coming home from a trip. I know Sirus/XM has a traffic station for all their major metropolitan areas and used it when I had XM in addition to my 5 AM presets