The all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback started life under a different name. It was originally a part of the now-discontinued Scion brand, where it was called the Scion iM. Toyota then rolled it into its lineup as the Corolla iM, and this year sheds the last of the Scion branding by simply calling this five-door vehicle the Corolla Hatchback.
There’s also a Corolla sedan, but it doesn’t offer the same flexibility, especially if you plan to carry any cargo. Hatchbacks are the go-to car for those who want something small and affordable that can haul stuff to a new apartment as easily as it can carry a few friends.
The name change comes with a styling update. It’s lower, wider, and shorter with a more aggressive design. The Corolla Hatchback is sporty without going overboard, and looks like it should be a fun little car to drive.
Power for the Corolla Hatchback comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. There’s a choice of either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual. After driving both cars, we can say the manual is a heck of a lot of fun if you know how to drive one. Failing that, the CVT does a perfectly serviceable job and only gets loud under hard acceleration.
The low horsepower and torque numbers might have you thinking the Corolla Hatchback is a lackluster drive, but that’s not the case. It’s surprisingly peppy and easily gets up to highway speeds without making you worry about how you’re going to merge with faster traffic.
It also shows off good handling, so it’s easy to zip through the traffic on crowded roads. That handling also ups the entertainment factor when you leave the highway behind and spend some time outside the city. The Corolla Hatchback is downright fun on a winding country road with controlled steering and a smooth ride.
The redesigned front seats are comfortable and have a new longer armrest this year, which taller drivers will appreciate. The base SE features fabric sports seats that are six-way adjustable for the driver, while the XSE gets an eight-way power driver’s seat with leather trim. Rear-seat passengers will find it a snug fit for three, but two adults will be just fine.
When it comes to cargo, there’s 18 cubic feet for your stuff. The rear seats split-fold 60/40, so you have lots of flexibility if you still want a passenger in back and need just a little extra cargo room. The liftgate opening is wide to fit larger items, and the load floor is low, so heavy items don’t require as much muscle to lift.
Standard safety includes Toyota Safety Sense P with pre-collision and pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, steering assist, auto high beams, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, road-sign assist, and lane-tracking assist. Its small size might make you nervous about safety, but the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2018 Top Safety Pick with its highest rating of Good in all crash tests.
The vehicle also gets good fuel economy with 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 on the highway, and 31 combined, equipped with the manual transmission. Equipped with the CVT, the base SE gets 32 miles per gallon in the city, 42 on the highway, and 36 combined, while the XSE gets 30 miles per gallon in the city, 38 on the highway, and 33 combined. No matter which version you choose, its fuel economy makes it a great choice as a commuter car.
Pricing starts at $19,990 for the base SE or $22,990 for the XSE. Add a manual transmission and pricing goes up by $1,100 in either trim. The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is a fun, affordable, and fuel-efficient vehicle with great safety ratings.