You can be forgiven if you thought that Toyota was asleep at the switch with the last generation of Corolloas, the 2013-18 series. They were decent enough cars, all told, and maintained Toyota’s legendary reliability, but they weren’t special like previous generations — including my first Corolla, a comfortable, zippy, thrifty 1998. For one thing, the 2018s had about the same power level as my ’98.
That’s all changed. The 2019s have clever new transmissions and a longer-stroke 2.0 liter engine that boasts 13:1 compression and both direct injection and port injection. It’s lower, wider, and longer, with dual-beam LED headlamps and changes that affect just about everything. The starting price for all this is to be $20,910 plus destination in the US.
The hatchback was released first, in two grades, SE and XSE grades. It is on a new platform, shared with the Camry, Avalon, and RAV4 — “Toyota New Global Architecture” or TNGA for short. That means it also gained a new suspension, which is more sport-tuned. The styling was intended to be along the lines of the “shooting brakes,” both muscular and sophisticated.
The new car is an inch lower, 1.2 inches wider, and 1.5 inches longer than the 2018 Corolla iM, with wider tracks and a longer wheelbase. The hood is two inches lower, for forward visibility. The front styling is based on Toyota’s Under Priority Catamaran and Keen Look; J-shaped Bi-Beam LED headlamps come standard, with 16 to 18 inch wheels.
While front overhang is 0.8 inches lower, rear overhang was stretched by 0.8 inches. The plastic hatch (made from Toyota Super Olefin Polymer and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or ABS) was moved 14°, a steeper angle.
Toyota had two goals for the new Corolla: dropping weight and increasing torsional rigidity, which improves both ride and handling. Using aluminum and both high- and ultra-high strength steel helped drop the chassis and body weight, while increasing torsional rigidity by 60%.
The front still uses MacPherson struts, with updated bound stopper clearance, different stabilizer locations, new coil spring rates, altered damping force, and lower friction in sliding parts. The rear suspension is now a multi-link design with a stabilizer bar, using updated shock absorbers, springs, and geometry. Lower arm locations were moved to improve toe-in angle during higher-speed maneuvering; shocks were moved forward for better cargo capacity and lower longitudinal low-frequency input. Overall, front and rear suspension friction has been reduced by 40 percent, and its center of gravity is cut by a substantial 0.8 inches. The end result: A Corolla Hatchback that possesses an uncanny blend of balance, composure, and feel that’ll have its driver pining for windy roads – time and time again.
All Corolla hatchbacks get LED taillamps with a diffusing inner lens, along with LED headlamps, a chrome rear diffuser, and alloy wheels. The XSE, though, has 18 inch wheels, LED fog lamps, a chrome grille surround, and optional adaptive front lighting that alters the beam by speed and steering angle (it’s only available with the CVT). The headlamps move both vertically and horizontally.
|2018 Corolla iM||2019 Corolla Hatch|
Inside, passengers find that the instrument panel has a 0.9 inch thinner upper surface; the center console is 1.7 inches wider, and longer as well, with a small-item tray and optional Qi wireless charging. The Corolla moved from a 7-inch to a standard 8-inch center touchscreen, with access to vehicle settings, audio, navigation, phone, and Entune 3.0 apps.
Noise have been dropped with new drivetrain efficiencies, tail-light “aero stabilizing fins,” and sound insulation, including sealants, foams, resonator ribs, and silencers, with more seals in body panel gaps.
In terms of styling, the Corolla pairs high-gloss materials with matte elements, e.g silver accents with Piano Black. Removing unnecessary lettering on switchgear and unifying materials increases aesthetic cleanliness. There are smaller gaps between buttons and switches.
The new hatch lowers front hip points (to 10.82 inches) and changed the front and rear cushioning for a more natural body posture. The front doors can hold 24-ounce bottles and A4-sized papers; rear doors can hold 16-ounce bottles.
Standard features include automatic climate control, a leather shift knob, paddle shifters for the CVT, an electronic parking brake, SmartKey system, and two front USB outlets. XSE adds a seven-inch color gauge cluster display, dual-zone climate control, leather with mélange-like fabric seating, heated front seats, and an eight-way power driver’s seat. The XSE instrument panel and doors have unique stitching.
The new K120 CVT is a continuously variable transmission, but not purely driven by belts or bands. Now, Toyota has included a special launch gear — the world’s first launch gear in a passenger-car CVT — avoiding the bands entirely. The reason is because CVTs tend to have low efficiency in lower gear ratios; so now when drivers start, they will have “gear drive,” avoiding a moment of sluggishness and wasted power. It moves from gear to belt drive after launch.
Using the belt for launches means that the belts can be tuned for higher gear ratios. Combined, the two systems bring an excellent, class-leading range of 7.5 — similar to much more expensive nine speed automatics. Reducing the torque load of the belt meant that the belt and pulley could be smaller, increasing shift speeds.
The “smart” six-speed “iMT” manual transmission automatically matches engine revs on downshifts for greater smoothness and lower emissions. The new gearbox is also 15 pounds lighter (at 88 pounds) and shorter (by 0.94 inches).
The 2019 Corolla includes Entune 3, with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, Siri Hands Free, an eight-inch touch-screen, six speakers, apps, WiFi (with subscription), GPS compability, an audio and USB 2 port (with iPod control), voice recognition training, and a customizable home screen. Entune 3.0 Audio Plus comes with the XSE (optional on SE CVT), and adds high-definition radio, weather and traffic information, cached satellite radio, connected services, and remote phone access.
Entune 3.0 Audio Premium, only optional on XSE CVT, is an 800-watt system with eight JBL speakers, “Clari-Fi,” and dynamic voice recognition and navigation. The system includes horn tweeters in the A-pillar at ear level, 6.7-inch door woofers, branding, and wide-dispersion midrange speakers. “Clari-Fi,” in Toyota’s words, “analyzes, rebuilds, and restores audio signals that were lost in the digital compression process.”
The Corolla set a new standard for including safety features on every trim level. The 2019 Corolla Hatchback includes:
The Corolla Hatchback comes in Rival Blue, Blizzard Pearl, Silver Metallic, Midnight Black, Galactic Aqua Mica, Scarlet, and Oxide Bronze.
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