Ace of Base: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2019 toyota corolla hatchback se

“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.

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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.

  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?
  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.