2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Review - Getting Closer

Y’all are probably gonna flay me for what I am about to write. I know, because one of our contributors took it on the chin (no pun intended) earlier this year after writing up the 2020 Corolla sedan.

That’s okay. I can take it. You guys out there fling arrows at us sometimes and we’re cool with it. It’s part of the job. Still, I am ducking (metaphorically speaking, do you know how hard is to type while ducking? Hurts your neck, man).

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE Review - Hope

Let’s face it. Most Toyotas are boring. Sure, enthusiasts get tossed the occasional bone – the 86 and the upcoming (controversial) Supra – but otherwise, the lineup doesn’t excite.

I believe that there are gearheads deep within the bowels of Toyota R&D, however. Those who recall the days when several proper performance cars shared a lot with the ubiquitous Camry.

Here is proof. No, this 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback isn’t a hardcore sportscar. It could certainly do with more power. But that Toyota brought out a new car – with an optional manual transmission, no less! – in a climate where the crossover dominates speaks volumes about the future of driving enthusiasm at one of the world’s biggest manufacturers. There is hope for drivers.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Pricing Announced; Big MPG Gains Await Those Who Hate Shifting

With a new body, platform, wheelbase, engine, and continuously variable transmission, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback (formerly the Corolla iM) is a very different beast than its predecessor. This was made abundantly clear during our recent test drive. Gone is the weird seating position, the spartan interior, and the so-so ride.

Just as important, the iM’s lackluster power figures give way to decent specs for a car of its class. It seems Toyota actually listened to owner complaints, boosting the vehicle’s output by 31 horsepower and 25 lb-ft while adding a physical launch gear to the new CVT, all in the hopes of wringing a little fun out of the compact liftback.

Here’s what getting into a Corolla Hatch costs:

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback First Drive - Doing It Right the Second Time

Toyota’s Corolla iM was an orphan almost from birth. Conceived by Scion, the compact hatchback joined the Toyota clan after its youth-focused parent brand took an eternal dirt nap.

Despite styling that bordered on edgy, the iM failed to elevate drivers’ enthusiasm to a point where its sales numbers played much of a role in the Corolla nameplate’s popularity. Testing revealed a five-door hatch that, while versatile, severely lacked in both power and comfort.

Simply put, it wasn’t very special. At all.

That all changes for 2019, as Toyota’s making amends for its weak earlier effort. With its new Corolla hatch (the iM name disappears, erasing the last trace of Scion from the automotive landscape), the automaker hoped to create a car owners might actually want to toss around — and one they can drive without going nuts finding a proper driving position.

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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.

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  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.