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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Review by David Colman - It's E15 Approved +VIDEO


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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

The striking grace of its new silhouette is just icing on the yummy cake

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to The Auto Channel


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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
For 2019, Toyota has added the Corolla Hatchback to its short list of completely revamped products based on the new TNGA global architecture program. This moves insures that the newest addition to the Corolla family offers the latest advances in platform strength, crash safety and packaging convenience. We spent a pleasurable week behind the fat leather rimmed steering wheel of a handsome Oxide Brown Metallic Corolla. Its XSE trim level provided our test hatchback with virtually everything Toyota has to offer on a Corolla.

Five years ago you couldn't buy any new Corolla with a Navigation System. Now Navigation is just one of the many available features on this still low entry price ($24,090) vehicle. With the addition of a $1,600 "Upgrade Entune 3.0 JBL Premium" package, the XSE offers not only Dynamic Navigation and Voice Recognition, but also Premium JBL Audio with an App Suite, an 8 inch touchscreen, plus Amazon Alexa/Apple CarPlay integration. Tack on another $375 for a wild looking rear window spoiler and you've got yourself this 33MPG Corolla for a total outlay of $27,823. With its dramatically redesigned, truffle-sniffing snout, and gigantic roof top air flap, the latest Corolla looks and drives like no previous econobox from Toyota ever did.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
For those concerned with safety, the latest Corolla also includes all the features of the updated Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system: Pre-Collision and Pedestrian Recognition, Full Speed Range Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Tracing Assist, and Road Sign Recognition. Additionally, the usual bevy of performance enhancements are present to keep the driving situation under control: traction control, vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Still assisting these various nannies in their oversight function is the driver, who is strapped into a commendably supportive front seat, and given a good clear view of the road to the front, to the sides and to the rear. The driver controls a 2.0 liter inline 4 cylinder, fuel injected M20A-FKS motor which drives the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Engine output is 168hp. Sport driving mode is available at the push of a console button, though you need to reactivate this mode each time you restart the Corolla. The Corolla's manual states that "Sport mode controls the engine and transmission to provide quick, powerful acceleration...and also changes the steering feel, making it suitable for when agile driving response is desired." We could not detect any difference between the Normal and Sport modes, and the steering feedback seemed overly light regardless of mode selected.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The Corolla handles well in all driving modes. With typical front wheel drive performance, it grips bends with satisfying adhesion until the front end starts to wash out near the limit of grip. Unlike the standard Corolla's 16x7 inch wheels, the XSE is equipped with fat alloy "machined wheels" that measure 18x8 inches, and mount Dunlop SP Sport 5000 mud and snow rated tires (treadwear rating of TW 340 and Traction rating of B). These grippy rims and tires deserve more of an engine punch than the M20A-FKS engine is capable of providing. 168hp in a vehicle weighing 2,900lbs. yields a lackluster power-to-weight ratio of 17.2hp/lb. Although the CVT transmission offers artificially stepped ratios and paddle shifts, you will find yourself constantly fiddling with those paddles for more passing power. We queried the Voice Recognition System for "More Power Please," but the response we received was unintelligible.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The hatchback design makes ownership of this Corolla quite convenient. Even if you carry 4 adults inside the cabin, the 13 cubic feet of trunk space will suffice for the quartet's baggage storage requirements. Even without benefit of a sunroof, this interior is spacious, well lit, and nicely finished. Contrasting stitching and fabric seat inserts relieve the tedium of the abundant vinyl trim panels. The Corolla interior is laid out with convenience of operation foremost. Thankfully, the dash offers a complete row of fixed buttons to control basic HVAC operations, without resorting to screen buried menus.

From a safety and value viewpoint, the all new Corolla hatchback marks a substantial advance over its predecessor. It not only looks much better, but also packs more features than ever into its predictably reliable chassis. The striking grace of its new silhouette is just icing on the yummy cake.




2019 TOYOTA COROLLA HATCHBACK XSE

    ENGINE: 2.0 liter in line 4, direct injection, DOHC, 16 valves
    HORSEPOWER: 168hp
    TORQUE: 128lb.-ft
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 30MPG City/38 MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $27,823

HYPES: Stunning New Shape, Safety Sense Suite Standard
GRIPES: Needs More HP, Slippery Hatch Shape Hard to Lift and Shut

STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10