Leading With Your Rear: The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
About that headline.  It's the type of thing that, in my earliest days of committing journalism, on the staff of the Bishop Union High School Bronco Roundup (1970-73),  I would have been called by our no-nonsense Advisor, Mrs. Martinson to explain ("and it better be a really good one, Hagerty").

What I'm saying is that, with the 2019 Toyota Corolla, Japan's biggest automaker is taking the unusual approach of introducing the hatchback ahead of the rest of the lineup, which won't come along until the 2020 model year.

Calling it a "hatchback" is also an unusual move, given that most automakers avoid that term like the plague and Toyota itself, in the 70s and 80s, called them "liftbacks".

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
This all-new five-door replaces the Corolla iM, which until the shuttering of the Scion brand, wore that badge.  In XSE trim like our tester, it is a contemporarily-styled, aggressive-looking machine, looking for all the world like it's ready to go hunting Volkswagen GTIs.

What's under all that, is a Corolla.  The same naturally-aspirated 188-horsepower 2.0 liter four that will reside under the hood of the 2020 Corolla sedan, the same Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the same front-wheel drive.  EPA fuel economy estimate 30 city/38 highway (but we were hard-pressed to break 27.5 in a 50/50 mix of city streets and urban freeways).

None of that is bad.  In fact, the Corolla got where it is today by building a comfortable, economical and reliable compact car.  But its body writes checks... (the ghost of Mrs. Martinson is telling me to stop here).

$24,050 is the base price for the top-of-the-line XSE.  That money buys a multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar, 18-inch machined wheels, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist, smart stop technology, blind spot monitor, LED head and tail lamps with auto on/off, dual chrome rear diffuser, color-keyed heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, front chrome grille surround, a dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker audio system with an eight-inch touchscreeen, Bluetooth, separate USB ports for media and for charging, SiriusXM, Siri Eyes-Free, Apple CarPlay (thank you, Toyota!), a seven-inch TFT multi-info display, tilt and telescoping steering column, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, leather-trimmed heated sport seats, a six-way adjustable power driver's seat, smart key with pushbutton start and a full tank of gas.

Which, for $24,050, is frankly spectacularly well-equipped.

Interior view of 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback interior.
Our tester also had extra-cost options:

  • Adaptive headlights ($415).
  • An upgraded JBL audio system with navigation ($1,600).
  • Rear window spoiler ($375).
  • Alloy wheel locks ($65).
  • Protection package---carpeted floor mats, carpeted cargo mat, rear bumper protector and cargo net ($358).
With $920 delivery processing and handling fee, the tab adds up to $27,823.  And even at that price, it's still an incredible value.  Five years ago, these were Lexus levels of equipment.  

So, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback promises racy times but ends up being the car you could settle down with for the long haul.   Nice deal.