(Contributing Editor: Susan Frissell)

 

Versatile compact hatchbacks are something crossover utes can only pretend to be: FUN!

 

The latest message from Toyota Global in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan to Toyota Motor North America HQ [now] in Plano, Texas :

「アメリカ人が最後に5ドアの小型ハッチバックを楽しんだので、この最新モデルを受け入れることを願っています。

(“Since you Americans recognized the fun versatility of the last 5-door compact hatchback we sent you, we hope you will accept this latest improved model.”)

Hence a redesigned Mk. 3 Toyota Auris トヨタ・オーリス (E210) compact hatchback has now arrived the Port of Los Angeles, this time the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchbackall as part of a concerted conspiracy to impose European style versatile 5-door fun on more Yanks.

 

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Must Haves:

Low M.S.R.P:

from $20,910 (incl. destination) for a 6-speed manual 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, a $1295 increase over preceding equivalent 2018 Corolla iM. Add $1100 for the automatic CVT transaxle.

Low transaction price:

Check Toyota.com & Toyota dealers for their extensive purchase, finance incentives.

Buyers are only competing with a select few Americans of discriminating Euro practical taste.

Sufficient capacity, Versatile use of space:

Front buckets suit wide range of body types, though cushions are on short side; Low front cowl, door, rather than sail panel mounted side mirrors and thin B-pillars enhance outward view; ; Cargo parcel shelf partially impedes rear visibility; Brilliantly bright LCD white on variable blue or red gauges include TFT trip data display; Elegant chrome tipped switches, large primary control buttons, pleasing to wind rotary dials; Front door / Rear door pocket storage = improved at Good / Good.

For Comparison’s Sake: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback vs. Volkswagen Golf Mk. VII 5-door = -5.7″-inches rear legroom, -21% nominal cargo space = verging on sub-compact.

Above average fuel economy, without hybrid or diesel power:

33 miles per gallon, combined; 500 mile highway range, 87 octane unleaded fuel

Adequate highway long-ramp, challenging short-ramp merge acceleration

Long throttle travel; Much improved low speed launch with +31 hp = 168 hp and single planetary gear to Continuously Variable band pulley transaxle; Rubber band wind-out still slightly noticeable despite 10 shift steps.

Acceptable ride/ handling

Now sits on modular TNGA-C platform; Rear double wishbone swapped for space saving four links on full independent chassis; Center of gravity lowered by 0.5″-inch for reduced body roll; Despite upsize to XSE’s 18″-inch alloy wheels bound in 45-ratio rubber, body body dip is minimized; Less aggressive rebound damping ably filters out most road crevice impacts; More rapid and precise, but hardly straining steering beckons driver engagement; Linear brake pedal response fitted to standard 4-wheel disc brakes scrubs speed expeditiously.

Fitting & Finished:

Contrasting light grey soft leatherette dash padding; Tight grained pliable panels abound; Contrast seat accent stitching; Convincing metallic accents, bezels & switch tips; Solid door close thuds; Cabin insulated from excessive powertrain noise; Tight grained dark plastics below waist height; -1 Excessive tire roar.

High reliability, O.K. warranty, +1 Initial maintenance

Corolla name synonymous with “bullet proof”

5 year / 60,000 miles powertrain; 3 year / 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranties; 2 yr. / 25k mi included maintenance.

Styling = Aspiring hot hatch ambitions builds on previous Mk. 2 E180 Corolla iM / Auris 5-door liftbacks.

Sharp raked hood, rising beltline profile retained; Former V-grille traded for hexagonal mid & lower front fascia, Black lattice inserts on XSE; Body-color matching side-spats; Wider C-pillars better blends into rear quarters; Liftgate goes convex, Tetrahedral chrome dual corner exhaust tip ports.

Generous standard equipment list:

Standard: Power windows (express x 4), door locks, heated mirrors; Keyless entry; Dual illuminated vanity sun-visors, Leather tilt + telescoping steering wheel, Front and rear overhead map lights; Front & 2nd Row center armrests; 60/40 split folding 2nd row seatbacks; Cargo bay parcel shelf cover;

Good safety feature set & ratings:

8 airbags (incl. driver’s knee), Rear view camera w/ park guidance grid, Automatic lights,

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0: Lane keep & trace assist, pre-collision braking, pedestrian avoidance, automatic high beam headlights.

IIHS: NOT TESTED (2018 MY Corolla iM = Front/ Side/ Small Frontal Overlap Impact resistance: Good/ Good/ Not Rated),

 

Standard & Making Life Easier Behind the Wheel:

Bluetooth handsfree phone & audio connectivity

Adaptive cruise control (CVT full adaptive)

1-Zone automatic climate control (XSE 2-Zone)

Touch infotainment display: 8″-inch touch LCD display HD FM/AM Audio with USB, Aux, I-pod, streaming inputs, 6-speaker Pioneer 160W audio w/ voice commands; Entune 3.0 Apps; weather & traffic, Scout GPS Link voice command, direction wireless navigation; Apple Car Play integration.

USB x 2 ports, 12V x 1 power ports

Front center stack wireless device shelf (OPT.: Qi wireless charging pad)

 

Standard & Nice To Have:

Sport mode

Steering wheel shift paddles (CVT models)

LED headlamps (XSE active bend)

Rear disc brakes

Fully independent suspension

16″-inch alloy wheels (XSE 17″ darkened)

Driver assist technology: Lane departure warning, keep & trace assist steering; Pre-collision braking w/ cyclist detection low light pedestrian detection avoidance.

Available Niceties:

Leather seats, heated front, driver’s 8-way power (XSE)

 

Wish It Had But Doesn’t:

-1: 2018 Toyota Corolla Hatchback trails competitors’ roominess; lacks Android Auto (for now) & rear cross traffic warning.

 

Which to Skip, Which to Pick:

XSE’s leather upholstery and power driver’s seat is slightly pretentious in this segment. Take a stunning Blue Flame SE model, brave it out with the silken manual gearbox, and enjoy the same mechanicals, safety & driver’s assist set as the XSE – minus Blind Spot Warning. Pocket $3000 savings.

 

Buying Tips:

1) When possible, locate an outgoing model year vehicle. They come with greater manufacturer sale and lease incentives.

2) Do Your Homework.” Scour manufacturer websites for “Rebates“, “Incentives” or “Special Offers.”

3) Be flexible on options and colors. Be willing to consider what other consumers might readily pass on.

4) Reputable new car dealers may allow prospective purchasers to rent a similar model service loaner vehicle for extended test drive purposes.