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Car and Driver Isn’t Sold on the 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

The Toyota Corolla tries hard to be exciting. Each year, Toyota strives to show the world that the Corolla isn’t just an appliance on wheels. The 2021 Toyota Corolla hatchback and Special Edition hatchback are part of that push to become a car for driving enthusiasts. However, Car and Driver isn’t sold on the 2021 Toyota Corolla hatchback.

Car and Driver chooses the sedan over the hatchback

“The hatchback Corolla has too many packaging compromises to warrant our interest.”

Car and Driver

In the Car and Driver review of the 2021 Toyota Corolla, the general verdict is that the sedan offers more to love than the hatchback. Despite its larger size and hatch appeal, the Corolla sedan provides more wiggle room in terms of packaging and trim levels. The 2021 Toyota Corolla hatchback implements the use of paddle shifters combined with a CVT to simulate manually moving through gears.

Bright blue Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback
Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback | Toyota

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You can, however, get your Corolla with a manual transmission for a $700 upcharge. Car and Driver is all for the idea of a 2021 Toyota Corolla equipped with a manual transmission. However, it seems the publication feels that a sedan is the better choice than a hatchback.

Cargo space

The Toyota Corolla doesn’t lead its class in terms of cargo space. In fact, US News and Report notes that the 2021 Toyota Corolla has a small trunk for its class. For instance, the Corolla sedan offers 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. While the rear seats do fold, there is a slight lip that causes difficulty when trying to haul longer items.

“That’s still small for a hatchback.”

US News and World Report
A new Toyota Corolla hatchback on display
A new Toyota Corolla hatchback | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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The hatchback only provides 17.8 cubic feet of cargo. This isn’t even as roomy as the largest sedan trunk on the market. Contrary to the sedan, however, the hatchback rear seats do, in fact, fold flat enabling 23.3 cubic feet of space. The downside is that this is still considered inadequate in comparison to other hatchbacks like the Honda Civic hatch which offers 22.6 – 25.7 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats and 46.2 feet when the rear is folded down.

The Toyota Corolla being unveiled in Tokyo, Japan
The Toyota Corolla | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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Limited options

The 2021 Toyota Corolla hatchback comes in only two of the seven trim levels. Both the SE and the SXE offer a hatchback version. Plus, the Nightshade package can be added to the Corolla hatchback. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Toyota Corolla hybrid is limited to the sedan form. For now, if you want a hybrid you’ll have to forgo the hatch.

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Car and Driver might be right

With the alluring option of the Apex edition Toyota Corolla, the hatchback looks even less appealing. Overall, due to the way the hatchback limits configurations and packaging. While it’s certainly a good car that serves its purpose quite well, the hatchback version of the 2021 Toyota Corolla just doesn’t have as much to offer as its sedan hatchback, even though the Corolla hatch is priced a couple thousand dollars lower than the sedan in both trims that offer the hatch.