Ace of Base: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

“No one wants small cars!” is the battle cry from a couple of American OEMs, primarily the one with a blue oval for its logo and a person sitting at the head table whose surname is on the building.

Toyota would like to have a word about that. Actually, so would Hyundai and a few other carmakers who seem to be doing just fine cranking out gee-whiz examples of small cars.

Like this Corolla Hatchback, for instance.

The Corolla Hatch doesn’t shy away from its workaday premise as a practical entry-level car that’ll probably get pressed into duty as someone’s first set of wheels. Sure, they’ve even placed the word hatch right in its name, a term that was once considered poison to marketers in America.

Weighing just north of 3,000 lbs and powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four (like just about everything else in its class these days) making 168 horsepower, the Corolla Hatch isn’t going to win any drag races. It is, however, a damn sight more sprightly than any of the entry-level penalty boxes of yore.

Two transmissions are available, the cheaper of which is the six-speed manual included in the car’s $19,990 sticker price. Marketers at the Big T are calling it an iMT, not because the prefix of i makes it sound cooler but because it is imbued with programming allowing it to rev-match a downshift. This will make your friends think you are Lewis Hamilton, or at least a better driver than you actually are. This goes a long way in certain age groups, mostly yoots. Up in the Great White North, Toyota Canada is using this exact model to put on driving clinics in Toronto with the goal of teaching kids how to drive a stick. We approve.

Air conditioning is standard, as it should be, deploying some noteworthy technology called S-Flow. Despite sounding like the title of an awkward 90’s boy band, this feature works to save a bit of fuel while figuring out some information about your passengers they may be embarrassed to tell you. By sensing the amount of weight in each of the front seats, S-Flow directs air only to the chairs which register an occupant, reducing the load on the HVAC system and saving a few drops of fuel.

An oddity on the Toyota build-n-price tool is the description of this car’s brakes. They are shown as discs at all four corners, which is stellar, but are listed as 15 inches in diameter. Hmm. The wheels on this SE are only 16 inches across. Rotors on the mighty Porsche 911 GT3 are 380mm on the round, which equals 15 inches. It is highly suspect to think the Corolla Hatch has brake the same size as the GT3. We’ve sent an email to Toyota for clarity.

The color shown above appeals to your extroverted author (a human who, by the way, just painted his garage floor bright red speckled with white and blue flakes – yes, I’m insufferable) and is called Blue Flame, a title once held by Ford for its F-150. Other, more subdued hues are available; mysteriously, white is extra cost. Snazzy LED lamps adorn both the front and rear.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a brace of USB ports … back in my day we had to make do with a single 12V cigarette lighter that should’ve been classified as a dangerous fire hazard. Even the side mirrors are heated.

Thanks to the Ford Motor Company and those of similar ilk, we’ll soon have fewer small cars costing less than $20,000 available on dealer lots. If the Toyota Corolla Hatch is any indication, though, those that remain will be worth the cash.

[Images: Toyota]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 79 comments
  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Oct 25, 2018

    I just had a 2018 Corolla as a rental. It was fine, it was what I expect from Toyota, nothing great and nothing really bad either. The LED headlamps were nice and the one thing I wish my Golf had (and that I miss from our Mazda)

  • Bobmaxed Bobmaxed on Oct 25, 2018

    The Corolla XSE has got my attention. Not a Hot Hatch. But after living with a FiST for going on two years I think I'll be willing to tone things down about the time that the FiST is ready to go.

  • FreedMike Not much to look at, but these were sweet to drive.
  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.
  • CanadaCraig Toyota saw this coming. So good for them for being courageous enough to say, "Wait a minute. Let's not rush into anything."