For many years, the Toyota Corolla has been widely perceived as being practical, fuel-efficient, and affordable. However, other descriptive words like “boring,” “bland,” and “slow” also come to mind. Fortunately, the Corolla was completely refreshed for 2019 and comes in a new hatchback body style, which we think is the best Corolla that you could ever buy.
The Corolla hatchback is available with one engine choice: A 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that puts out 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. That’s a godsend, considering the Toyota Corolla has always been considered slow, thanks to its 1.8-liter engine that put out 132 horsepower.
In their review of the 2018 Corolla, U.S. News called out “sluggish acceleration” as one of the major cons and Kelley Blue Book stated, “Those seeking an aggressive driving attitude won’t find much excitement here, nor will speed demons.”
The extra horsepower over the outgoing Corolla engine still might not be enough to push you back in your seat or win any drag races, but we think that 168 horsepower should at least make it more competitive in the segment and more fun to drive.
Better transmission options
Aside from the engine, part of makes any car fun to drive is the transmission. And in case you’ve been following along with car trends in the past decade, you would notice that most automakers use CVT transmissions in their cars. The same goes for the new Corolla Hatchback, however, the CVT transmission that it’s equipped with is a little different in that it incorporates a “launch gear.” This gear is basically akin to having a “first gear” for the car to seamlessly accelerate from a dead stop before it switches over to the traditional belt-driven CVT system. The result is smoother and quicker acceleration.
The other transmission option on the Corolla Hatchback is a six-speed manual. That’s right, all of us manual transmission purists can rejoice now that the Corolla has gotten with the program. Even better, the Toyota incorporated a rev-matching downshift feature for smoother downshifts, a first for the compact car segment.
As always, looks are subjective. But if we had to compare this new Corolla Hatchback to the Corolla designs of yesteryear, we have to admit that it’s leap and bounds better. We think that Toyota did a fantastic job of redesigning the Corolla with a more aggressive front and rear end along with sharper-looking LED head and tail lights. We applaud the Corolla Hatchback’s color pallet as well, as it’s available in shocking colors like “Blue Flame” and also has dark-contrasting roof options to give the car a little more personality.
On the inside, the Corolla Hatchback is available with a two-toned design and is covered with soft-touch materials everywhere, even on the dash. This gives the Corolla Hatchback a much more upscale look that would typically only be found on a more expensive model from a class above.
We recommend it
If you happen to be shopping for a compact hatchback and are trying to decide if whether the Honda Civic hatchback or perhaps the Mazda3 hatchback might be better for you, we suggest checking out the Corolla Hatchback as well. It’s priced well at $20,290 to $23,240 depending on the trim level you choose and provides excellent fuel economy (up to 41 mpg highway) to boot. Finally, we might be able to add the word “fun” to the list of words that come to mind when we think of the Toyota Corolla.