Sunday Drive: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is the new ‘Haute Hatch’

May 12, 2019

2019 brings a new version of the Corolla to the states as Toyota introduces the Hatchback to the lineup. Does it hit the street as a ‘Hot Hatch’? Maybe not, but according to Toyota’s media site how about ‘Haute Hatch’? After a week in the Corolla, we would certainly agree!

Haute being defined as fashionably elegant or high-class, this new Corolla is all of that and more; it’s certainly not the Corolla we grew up with. It may not be in the hot hatch category because of speed, it will however make it with style points and technology in our book.

We were so impressed with the Corolla from the moment it arrived that we found ourselves coming up with all kinds of reasons to take it for a drive. To the store, to see the trees starting to bloom in early spring and even for jaunt out to Tooele County to get ideas for exterior home designs.

The Corolla is not only very comfortable be in, it also has looks that will turn heads in every market. There are so many bends in the sheet metal it had us wondering, “How did they make it look like that?” The design is not only very modern, it seemed to have just enough Lexus injected to make it interesting and unique.

Add to that the new color that our test ride came in of Blue Flame, and it had every bit of “Hot Hatch” going for it. The color was a very intense, almost sky blue, that stood out anywhere we parked and would have people asking questions especially in the grocery story lot.

Toyota choose to send a unique version of the Corolla as it comes with two different transmissions, one of those being the smallest and lightest six-speed manual transmissions on the market weighing in at only 88 pounds — thereby continuing the ever present search for more miles per gallon.

At first we thought it might be too much work with all the shifting involved, but it quickly became part of the experience of the drive. There are not many manual transmissions left in the market, making us glad that Toyota has left one around. Learning to drive a manual was like a rite of passage into the automobile world when we grew up.

A new engine this year comes under the hood, a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder power plant which is up from the 1.8-liter-engine in last year’s Corolla. It came with 168 horsepower and 151 ft.-lbs. of torque. It was not a speed monster. However, it proved to be more than adequate for our needs and with the rev matching of the transmission during downshifting really was fun to drive.

Perhaps in the future the TRD department will get a chance with the Corolla and get it up over 200 horsepower and come up with what would really have to be a “Hot Hatch.” We did get a very nice 34.5 mpg for our week of driving, very impressive.

Inside the technology was abundant as we have found with other Toyotas; they seem to lead the way with others following later in this department. There is a 7-inch multi-information display in the center of the dashboard that compromises the speedometer and other vehicle information, a very cool addition that we would have never expected on a vehicle at this price point.

In the center of the dash rises a standard 8-inch color touchscreen that controls the audio, and Bluetooth functions along with Toyota’s Entune suite if purchased from the automaker. Of course the Corolla is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, which would put all of the information on our phones on the large touchscreen giving us access to navigation and other phone functions.

The new Corolla also has Amazon Alexa skills and can be equipped with onboard Wi-Fi. The seats’ hip points in the XSE have been lowered, along with a redesign of the cushions allowing for a better seating stance to reach the muti-function steering wheel and gear shifter.

Also standard in the new Corolla Hatchback is the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which included all kinds of safety features many of which are hard to come by again at this price point.

Pre-collision detection, along with pedestrian detection, will see both people and cars night and day. Through the use of audible and visual warnings, along with emergency braking if necessary, will try and avoid a collision.

Radar cruise control is also part of the package and came with the manual transmission, although it would give an audible warning to us if the Corolla was going too slow for the gear we were currently traveling in, coaxing us to change gears before stalling. So it works a little differently than on a standard transmission that would stop and start with traffic.

Lane departure alert with steering assist would nudge us back into the lane if we wandered to close to the stripes.

New to Safety Sense 2.0 are lane tracing assist, that along with the radar cruise control, would help to keep the Corolla centered in the lane on longer drives and a new road sign assist that would put speed limit, yield and stop signs up in the multi-function display even without navigation. Pretty cool addition.

Opt for the standard transmission and the Corolla XSE comes with headlights that will adapt to the speed and turning with the direction of the car, again something we would not have expected from a vehicle of this price.

The new Corolla Hatchback would make for an awesome daily driver and had us enthralled and wanting for another week to experience the new “Haute Hatch.”

Base Price: $22,990

Price as Driven: $24,203

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