I solely ever used to advocate the Toyota Corolla to individuals who did not care about automobiles. In the event that they wished a automotive that was the equal of elevator music — one thing that simply sort of… exists within the background — the Corolla was all the time my primary suggestion. It isn’t that the automotive was dangerous by any measure, it simply lacked pleasure in actually each method.

However I am unable to try this anymore. The 2019 Corolla Hatchback (née Corolla iM Hatchback, née Scion iM) offers the Corolla lineup one thing it hasn’t had in years: character.

Stylin’

It isn’t precisely prepared for Preliminary D, however the brand new Corolla Hatchback proves Toyota’s designers are able to making a handsome automotive at times. The automaker’s company nostril is way more refined than it’s on the current-generation Corolla sedan, the headlights and taillights are the proper of skinny and there is a heapin’ helpin’ of character on the edges. My XSE tester, the sportier trim of the 2, has upsized 18-inch alloy wheels a surprisingly massive (however not annoying) wing atop the hatch.

The inside additionally makes use of extra expressive design, although it is a bit safer. There is a good little bit of layering between the highest of the sprint and the underside, with some simulated stitching to provide it a extra premium really feel. Every part is inside plain view, and there are many actual buttons for the infotainment system and local weather management. On the XSE trim, the seats are lined in each cloth and leather-based, the entrance row will get heating and the driving force’s seat is eight-way energy adjustable.

One factor the Corolla Hatchback ought to have taken from its sedan sibling is rear legroom. The present Corolla sedan has distinctive rear legroom. Issues are a lot tighter for my 6-foot body at the back of the ‘Again, which has surprisingly slim door openings however, fortunately, ample headroom. Ahead visibility is ample, however the rear hatch glass is a bit small for my style. The facet mirrors are large enough to cowl my blind spots with out requiring a twist o’ the neck.

The Corolla Hatchback’s rear wing seems to be becoming from some angles, however a bit garish from others.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Tech-rich, however with a notable omission

If security is your jam, the Corolla Hatchback will delight. Each constantly variable transmission and six-speed guide variants get quite a few commonplace security techniques, together with computerized emergency braking with pedestrian and bike owner detection, lane-keep help and adaptive cruise management.

Adaptive cruise management works properly on my guide tester. It even permits clutch use for upshifts and downshifts, which I have never skilled on some other cruise-control-equipped guide, adaptive or in any other case. The lane-keep system is a hands-on-at-all-times affair, however it holds the lane properly, not ping-ponging between strains and customarily staying useless middle for those who your self are incapable of doing so.

On the XSE trim, I’ve not one, however two screens — a 7-inch display screen within the gauge cluster, and an Eight-inch display screen dealing with infotainment duties. The gauge display screen affords two completely different kinds, actually solely altering the way you need the speedometer displayed. The middle of the display screen can swap between gasoline financial system, security, music and different pertinent data utilizing simply accessible switches on the steering wheel.

So far as infotainment goes, Toyota’s Entune system is okay. The graphics are a bit behind the instances, however the system performs its jobs rapidly. Neither the bottom SE nor uprated XSE get commonplace embedded navigation — that is a part of a $1,600 bundle on XSE alone. And whereas providing Scout navigation by way of Toyota’s app is a superb stopgap, I suppose, I nonetheless get mad that I’ve to dump a part of my $23,000 automotive’s job to an app. Fortunately, I’ve Apple CarPlay at my disposal, however Android customers are plumb out of luck — a stunning omission in 2018.

Like them or not, “floating” infotainment screens are right here to remain.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Not a driver’s automotive, however method higher than earlier than

Toyota’s new 2.Zero-liter I4 places out 168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. Whereas that appears superb on paper, it is a naturally aspirated engine and peak torque is all the way in which up at four,800 rpm, which suggests you will be jamming the fuel for even the slightest enchancment in ahead movement, particularly at freeway speeds. Toyota must get with the instances and embrace a turbo engine with a decrease torque band, particularly on a trim just like the XSE that payments itself as being a bit sportier.

My tester has a six-speed guide, which feels stable sufficient because it snicks by way of well-defined gates, though the throw is on the lengthy facet. The clutch pedal is a letdown, although, with zero really feel that makes discovering the chunk level a relentless guessing train. One flip of the “iMT” button engages rev-matching downshifts and adjusts engine pace for smoother upshifts, each of which work very properly. It is a disgrace it defaults to turned-off with each press of the beginning button, although.

Round Detroit’s iffy-at-best roads, the Corolla Hatchback is cool as a cucumber. The journey consists, even with the XSE’s thinner 225/40R18 Yokohama Avid GT all-season tires, and an excessive amount of outdoors noise is stored the place it belongs. At freeway speeds, there is a little bit of wind noise however it’s in any other case a cushty, quiet affair. There’s a variety of give within the suspension, which form of ruins the driving dynamics when issues get twisty, however it’s nonetheless leagues higher than any earlier Corolla I’ve pushed.

As for gasoline financial system, it is hit and miss. The EPA charges the guide Corolla Hatchback at 28 miles per gallon metropolis and 37 freeway, however the CVT variant achieves 30 metropolis and 38 mpg freeway. Even small modifications in pace are main figuring out elements in my gasoline financial system — between a gentle 55 and 70 mph, I see near 40 mpg freeway, however something north of 75 mph returns no higher than 30-32 mpg, which is definitely the identical determine I noticed within the metropolis.

How I might spec it

The Corolla XSE has a particular fascinating benefit over the SE within the seems to be division, regardless of its gasoline financial system deficit. That places me at $22,990 with a six-speed guide (no CVT for me, thanks). I’d add the $1,600 choice that features embedded navigation, wi-fi cellphone charging and an 800-watt audio system. That places me at $24,590, or $25,510 after the $920 vacation spot cost.

Right down to brass tacks

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback has some very stable competitors, together with the Honda Civic Hatchback, Hyundai Elantra GT and Mazda3 hatchback. All three are superior driver’s automobiles — heck, you may get the 201-horsepower Elantra GT Sport for about the identical value. The Corolla has the Civic beat on tech (minus its lack of Android Auto), in addition to the Mazda, however Hyundai’s tech choices are arduous to high on this phase.

Toyota’s new Corolla Hatchback is enjoyable to have a look at, comfy to drive and its tech is now not 5 years behind the competitors. I can solely hope that that is the beginning of one thing attention-grabbing within the Corolla lineup, relatively than a one-off that will not translate to a redesigned sedan. Here is hoping.

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