Car of the Year Car Reviews

Toyota Corolla Hatchback: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

The best-driving Corolla in a long time

The best-driving Corolla in a long time

WE LIKE Driving dynamics, the upscale interior

WE DON’T LIKE Small rear seats, tiny cargo area

Most judges agreed on one thing: This is the best-driving Corolla in a long time.

When pushing the Corolla Hatchback on the winding track, the responsive and solid chassis kept asking for more. Rhetorically, we ask when was the last time you could drift a Corolla? Ed Loh attributed the Corolla’s improved dynamics to “the Akio effect,” in tribute to the automaker’s CEO. “The chassis is solid, and you can chuck it into corners,” Christian Seabaugh noted. But is it the equal of the Hyundai Veloster? Alisa Priddle thinks not.

The interior’s upscale feel also stood out—uncommon at this price point. One judge described it as a “mini-Lexus.” Another called it “Avalon-like.” The digital instrument panel screen is large and sharp, and plenty of soft-touch materials cover the dashboard and door panels. Front-seat comfort was so impressive (on the SE model) that Jonny Lieberman said, “The seats are soft to the point that I believe they are part of the suspension.”

As much as we liked the front cabin, everything behind it is a bust. Chris Theodore noted that Toyota put the most money between the A- and B-pillars, thus leaving the rear seats small and barren. Adults won’t enjoy being crammed back there. The cargo area expands to 23.3 cubic feet with the rear seats down, about half of what the Veloster offers. More sound dampening also would be appreciated, as the coarse-sounding engine roars in the cabin.

Regardless, many will like the hatchback’s sporty styling. It’s an improvement over the Corolla iM it replaces. Furthermore, it’s worlds better than the current and dated Corolla sedan—unless, of course, you need a back seat.


2019 Toyota Corolla SE XSE
Base Price/As tested $20,910/$21,958 $25,010/$27,823
Power (SAE net) 168 hp @ 6,600 rpm 168 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 151 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm 151 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 7.4 sec 8.6 sec
Quarter-mile 15.8 sec @ 88.4 mph 16.5 sec @ 85.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 135 ft 129 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.80 g (avg) 0.80 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.9 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) 28.1 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 28/37/31 mpg 30/38/33 mpg
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
Engine/Transmission 2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4/6-speed manual 2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4/Cont variable auto
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 2,961 lb (60/40%) 3,106 lb (61/39%)
Wheelbase 103.9 in 103.9 in
Length x Width x Height 169.9 x 69.9 x 57.1 in 169.9 x 69.9 x 57.1 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 120/91 kW-hrs/100 miles 112/89 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.62 lb/mile 0.59 lb/mile