Toyota gets serious about the compact hatchback segment for 2019 with a new five-door Corolla that marks a big step up from the Corolla iM it replaces.
You may remember the iM as the Corolla-based hatch introduced in 2016 by Toyota's offshoot Scion brand. It lasted one year as a Scion before Toyota closed up that division and rolled the car into its Corolla line.
The new Corolla hatch doesn't look a lot different than the old iM, but there are big differences under the surface. For one, the car rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform, which promises better handling and refinement. Another plus is a new 2.0L four-cylinder engine whose 168 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque are up 31 hp and 25 lb-ft compared to the iM's 1.8L.
Toyota is not the first car company that comes to mind when we think of driver engagement, but Toyota is putting a lot of effort into promoting this car's availability with a six-speed manual transmission. The iM came that way too, but this newfound focus on the stickshift pleases gearheads like us.
The optional transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT) that Toyota says is the world's first CVT with a "launch gear." From a stop, the transmission engages a pair of actual gears to get the car moving before transitioning to the CVT's belt-drive. It's a design Toyota says improves efficiency and responsiveness at low speeds. Use the manual shift mode and you'll have access to 10 fixed ratios.
Toyota says the Corolla Hatchback is the first model to get the brand's new Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety features. Among the new suite's capabilities is a pre-collision system that can detect pedestrians in low light situations and cyclists in daylight, lane departure alert that can see the edge of the road (without relying on lane markings) and a lane trace assist function that helps reduce driver stress in traffic congestion and long-distance highway driving.
Corolla Hatchback trim levels are S, SE, SE Upgrade and XSE.
S trim comes with the manual transmission, Entune 3.0 infotainment with Apple CarPlay support, passive keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, LED headlights with automatic high beams, tire pressure monitor, six-speaker stereo, six-way driver and four-way front passenger manual seat adjustment, power windows and single-zone automatic air conditioning.
SE's notable additions are a leather-trimmed steering wheel, driver's power lumbar adjustment, heated front seats and 16-inch aluminum wheels.
The SE Upgrade package brings wireless smartphone charging, blind spot monitoring, heated steering wheel and 18-inch wheels.
XSE is an automatic-only package that also gets dual-zone automatic climate control, Entune infotainment with embedded navigation, 7.0-inch multi-information display, LED fog lights, leatherette upholstery and an eight-way power driver's seat.
Toyota's fuel consumption estimates for the Corolla hatchback are 8.4/6.3 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission and 7.5/5.8 for the CVT.