2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Review | Shift Into Fun | Edmunds

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Review | Shift Into Fun | Edmunds

marketing of the 2019 Corolla has been a focus
on youth and fun. It’s available in a hatchback,
and hatchbacks are fun. But can the Corolla really
escape its dull reputation and compete with cars like
the Veloster and the Mazda 3? I have to say, I was kind of
dreading doing this review. Like, ugh, Corolla. What is there even to say? It’s like a boring car, right? It’s just boring. But then I saw this. Hello, hatchback. And it’s a six-speed? And look at that color? You could call the 2019
Corolla XSE a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I’m going to show you just
how exciting the Corolla is. But first, subscribe
to our channel. And if you’re shopping
for a car, visit Edmunds. For years, we’ve been
giving Toyota a hard time about designing bland cars. And now, the new Toyotas– the Corolla, in particular– are
full of body lines, and dips, and bulges– it’s definitely not bland. But just because
something isn’t boring doesn’t mean that
it’s attractive. The big mouth front
end is growing on me. I kind of like it. But the back– well, the kind of
thing I can say about the back is that it looks like a
robot with an underbite. It’s not that pretty. What is pretty,
though, is this color. Toyota calls it
blue flame, and it is like driving a summer sky. You know, so many of us live
in these dull, gray, concrete worlds. Why not add a little pop
of color to your commute? I took some friends out
to lunch in the Corolla, and they got inside. And both of them were
like, oh, this is nice. And since they showed
up in Porsches, I’m going to assume they knew
something about nice interiors. I’m not going to say
that the interior is as nice as a
Porsche, but there’s soft-touch materials where
previous generations had hard plastic. There’s a lot of
really nice details, like stitching, interesting
different textures, these great seats with
a pattern in them. And for $25,000,
this is well-dressed. The seats in the Corolla
are really comfortable. In fact, the whole front
of the cabin is spacious. There’s plenty of room, plenty
of personal space between you and your passenger. The seats are just bolstered
enough to be comfortable if you’re going around a
corner, but they’re not real tight-fitting
like a race seat. And the seats go up
far enough that I can put the clutch in without
ramming my knee into the dash, and I still have
plenty of space. It’s super comfortable. It really makes this
car a joy to drive. While there’s plenty
of room for people in the front of the
Corolla, there’s not a whole lot of room for stuff. The cup holders are small. There’s only one little
pocket for a phone, and it’s kind of
inconveniently out of the way. Console’s pretty
tiny, and there’s not a lot of space in the side
pockets for the doors, either. Also, I do have a little rant,
which is about USB ports. There are two USB ports in the
Corolla– one in the console, where you would expect it
to be, but that one doesn’t connect to Apple CarPlay. The one that connects
to Apple CarPlay is all the way over
on the passenger side. And you can’t even see it
from the driver’s seat, so it’s a little weird. It’s only going to be a
problem once when you first get the car, but it
would’ve been nice if they’d made it a
bright color, or just a little bit more obvious. This is not a problem
for you if you use Android Auto because Toyota
doesn’t support Android Auto. Although there are rumors
they might in the future. Anyway, rant over. Oh, no, wait. I have another rant. The eight-inch touchscreen
display for the infotainment is fine. I mean, it’s well-placed. It doesn’t get all glary. But the actual infotainment
system for Toyota is, like, what
are they thinking? None of it really makes sense. It takes so many clicks
to get anything done. For example, if you
want to just adjust the volume for the navigation
directions, in most cars, you can do that with
the volume knob. You just do it when a
direction is being spoken, and it doesn’t change your
music or anything like that. But in the Corolla,
you’ve got to go to– OK. It’s Menu, Setup,
Voice, Voice Volume, and then you can
click it up and down. That’s like four or five
clicks to adjust something that you might need to adjust
while you were driving. For a car that won’t even
let you release the parking brake unless you have
the foot on the brake, I was sort of surprised they
made it that complicated. Toyota’s safety suite
all comes standard, so you get things like
pedestrian detection, and lane departure
assist, backup camera, a bunch of airbags,
everything you need. Here’s what you get in the
backseat of the Corolla. You have a very comfortable
seat, enough leg room for a night out on the
town, although you might not want to live in the backseat,
especially if you’re tall. I think you might
run out of headroom. You’ve got an
armrest, cupholders, there’s another
cupholder in the door, a little slot for putting
phones or change or very, very small pets. Here’s what you don’t have– a USB port. I guess you can use
the one in the console since you can’t use that to
use Apple CarPlay in the front. I would not use
it for five people unless you were in an emergency,
because this middle seat is really, really tight. The new Corolla hatch is
wider, lower, and shorter than the previous one, and that
mostly affects cargo space. There’s 17.8 cubic
feet back here, and that’s a lot less
than the competition. The Civic hatch
has 22 cubic feet. And even the Veloster,
which is small, has 19.9. Do you want to
see a magic trick? I’m going to take this perfectly
adequate commuter car Corolla and make it super fun. Ready? Ta-da, it’s a stick. When people say
that driving a stick is more fun than an automatic,
that is absolutely the case. That’s why it’s
so exciting to see a stick shift available in a
car at a very low price point. If you used to
own a stick shift, and you haven’t in a long
time because you just didn’t feel like there was a
sensible daily driver car that offered one, right here, guys. And if you’ve always sort
of wanted to drive a stick, but you’ve been intimidated by
it, or just seems too scary, this is the easiest manual
car I’ve ever driven. I’ve been driving this
car all week long. I am not kidding. I’ve put about 600 miles
on it in one week– a lot of traffic,
a lot of hills, all the things that somebody
who’s new to driving a manual might be intimidated by. And not one time
have I wished that it was the automatic transmission. Not once. I’m going to say that the
most intimidating thing about driving a stick is what
do you do when you’re on a hill? Because you stop, and then
if you let off the brake, you’re going to roll backwards. Oh, my god. What if there’s
somebody behind you? Well, modern stick shift cars
are great because first of all, it automatically
has a hill assist. So there’s a moment where
you can let off the gas and it’ll hold it for you. Like I was off the
brake for about a second before we started rolling back. But let’s say you need more
than that, like a second isn’t enough time. Well, we’ve got a
hold button, and it’ll hold the brakes indefinitely. I am not on the
brakes right now. I’m on the clutch, not on
the brakes, not on the gas. And then we’re ready to go. It automatically releases,
and we’re moving. Where was this when I was
learning to drive stick? It’s stuff like this that makes
this car such a perfect city run-about car because everything
that would have made you not want it as a daily driver,
or not want to stick shift as a daily driver before– irrelevant. They have solved all
of your problems. If you just write out
the specs for this car, it doesn’t seem very impressive. It’s a 2-liter 4-cylinder. It’s not turbocharged. It’s naturally aspirated. And it only makes
168 horsepower, which isn’t very much
compared to the competition. Both the Civic SI and the
Veloster have quite a bit more. But everything in the
Corolla is perfectly balanced that it
makes it a lot of fun, even if it isn’t super fast. The suspension,
the ride quality, the way that it shifts, the
way the power is delivered– naturally-aspirated engines are
kind of nice for power delivery because it’s just real smooth
and it’s real predictable. There’s no jump from a turbo. There’s no turbo lag. It’s just there
when you need it. And because it’s not a
super high horsepower car, you get to shift a lot,
which is kind of the most fun part about a stick shift car. And it’s got a
kind of rev match. Toyota calls it IMT–
intelligent manual transmission. It’s not like the rev match
that you’ve seen in muscle cars and performance cars where
you shift from third to second and it goes like wing, ding,
ding, ding, pop, pop, pop, pop. And it’s like really
dramatic, and you sound like you’re, I don’t know,
at the 24 hours of Daytona. It’s a lot more
subtle than that. But what it does
is it just makes the shift a little bit
smoother so you just feel a little bit better at it. And your passengers spill
a little less coffee on themselves. If I could change one
thing about the way they built this car, I might’ve
gone with the slightly lower gearing. I like a first gear that
you can really lug along, and I found that I was
barely ever using sixth gear. So they could have
had a lower gear, and I don’t think
they would have given up that much in mileage. I also really like the
visibility in this car. The mirror doesn’t block
anything when you’re turning. There’s a lot of
glass all around you. And the B pillar, which in
four-doors sometimes can be like a huge blind spot, isn’t. I can see out the
window behind me. And it’s got
blind-spot monitoring, so it’ll light up in the
mirror if I don’t see it. Some of the things I’m
talking about in this car are going to apply if you get
the CBT automatic transmission. But I don’t want you
to go and get the CBT and then call me up
and be like, Elana, you said this car was super
fun, and it’s not fun. It’ll still be nice. It’ll still have
a nice interior, and it’ll still be a good
deal for a daily driver with the automatic. But if you want fun, you’ve
got to get the stick. That’s the only way that this
car competes with the other fun hatches, like the Mazda
3 or the Veloster. If, for some reason,
you’re looking at this car and you have no
interest in fun, it is still a totally usable car. It’s not loud inside. Ride quality is comfortable. You could hate fun and
still like this car. It’s been a long time since
anyone’s described the Corolla as a fun car. I’d say maybe late ’80s before
it went to front-wheel drive? But with the new
6-speed hatchback, it’s a real competitor to
the Civic SE, the Mazda 3, and the Hyundai Veloster. Go forth and slam some
gears, my friends. This Corolla is fun. If you liked this video, please,
please, please subscribe. And make sure you follow
us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Haven't seen her before on a review and really really liked her. Good job!

    Searching for the nav voice complaint was kinda weak. I get car electronics don't have the best user interfaces. Which is Almost all car brands these days. But I really felt like you were really forcing the case with the navigation audio. There's gotta be a more compelling example you could have highlighted to make your point

    Loved this though!! Looking forward to seeing more from you!!

  2. You are the best thing that ever happened to Edmunds my friend. At first I thought this would be a disaster, but you knocked it out the park with all your cuteness, charm, and actual details about the car. I hate when people review cars and cry about what it’s not. Just review the car for what it is. And that is what you did. Bravo.

    The Corolla hatch isn’t perfect. But countless reviews have shown me that this car does a lot of things right. It’s shaping up to be a solid little car.

  3. What a fine review and a welcome new perspective. This car will be much more appreciated as a major upgrade from a Yaris hatch rather than a direct replacement for earlier Toyotas like the Matrix. The new hatch simply lacks the practical capacity and adaptability offered by previous generations of Toyotas and Scions. As many already know, Toyota offers a FUN and fully functional Corolla wagon in Europe that eliminates all the shortcomings and compromises built into this hatch. Kudos for the call to choose the manual version. Around the world manuals are driven in all sorts of conditions only Americans treat them with fear and loathing. #Savethemanuals #SaveTheWagon #SaveHandBrakes

  4. $25 Grand is too steep for a Corolla hatch. That's price is more appropriate for a Corolla wagon if Toyota wasn't too stingy to make it available in its global product line.

  5. My ‘88 Corolla FX-16 GTS was a total blast. Manual trans. Super low gearing. Very quick around town, heavily bolstered sport seats, alloys, and weighed almost nothing. So yes, they did make a fun FWD Corolla back in the day. Short of real world terrible back seat room, this would be a fun usable hatch for a couple or those with small kids.

  6. I really want to love this car, but I am still not sold on the interior space. I think the Civic has a nicer interior even down to the layout and choice of materials. (Too much piano black in this car) and no Android auto in 2019 is just plain weird. (I'm a forever Google user) Although on the flip side at almost 7KRPM redline and 6MT is really awesome. Glad to see Toyota helping save the manuals.

  7. I want to see what Toyota does with the 2020 Corolla XSE sedan when that comes out probably by the end of March 2019. Hopefully, it'll have the 2019 Corolla Hatchback's sportier feel but with a bit more sound insulation from the engine.

  8. I really liked this review. Honestly, wasn’t into manuals, but this video really interested me in it. Love reliable, small sub-compact cars. Nice review!

  9. Great video! I own this hatch and have been loving it beyond my expectations! It was my Christmas gift so I named him NightStar! (Mine is the Blizzard White Pearl with tinted windows)! I feel like Batgirl when I’m in it! Hehehe

  10. iMT is indeed normal rev matching like that in the 370Z, but the most amazing thing about the stick, which Elana missed to point out ;), is that the adaptive cruise control does not get turned off when using the clutch to switch between gears. I hope this sort of software logic becomes standard across the industry so that we see a resurgence in manuals!

  11. This is not a competitor to the Civic Si lol. It is a competitor to the Civic Hatch with it's 174hp. The Si performance gap is too wide for it to compete.

  12. I learned to drive on a five speed Toyota, but it was in a rural area. When I moved to the Bay Area the stop and go traffic on the freeways drove me nuts. My next car was an automatic and it was so much more relaxing on crowded freeways.

  13. I want to like the latest Corolla XSE hatch (& 2020 sedan), but the stupid Toyota fish-face styling trend is a deal-breaker. If I am forced to buy a fish-faced car, I would rather wait & get the newly rebadged Mazda2 hatch in 2020 as the Yaris hatchback (in top trim level), & save $5K+ in the process.

  14. EXCELLENT review – one of the best on the corolla XSE hatch. This car really intrigues me. I haven't owned a slow fun car, always quick/fast fun cars which can get old quickly.

  15. Looks like a nice car, but still a little small. I'm only here because I had the misfortune today of driving a 2013 Corolla from the local Toyota dealer while they worked on my car. What a boring car the 2013 model is with it's CVT (transmission), cramped interior, hard to read speedo and gauges….the mid 90s Camry I use to have would put it to shame.

  16. How did we ever survive without crapple car play or all that safety garbage (that some people need so they can play with their phones rather than actually drive). I have an idea. Since the crapple carplay port is on the passenger side, people like her should be happier as a passenger. This would make the rest of the world much safer.

  17. I put red reflectors lengthwise in the fake exhaust outlets. I bought inexpensive self sticking rectangular reflectors at the autos supply and cut them lengthwise and stuck them inside the chrome outlets. They look great and factory perfect on my Black Hatchback XSE.

  18. Why they don't make a cars which make a blow job , don't they understend we need it..? some times our woman dosn't have a time to do it in a morning because she is hurry up to work or we are in hurry so it's no time for it, so they should make a cars which is doing blow job when you're on a way to work, can you imagine going to work and blow job is on a way.
    Please car manufactures start to think about it because this is very important.

  19. Manuals are much more reliable. Every automatic I've owned has had to be rebuilt. Never had a problem with a manual. I won't own an automstic..
    And yes, you can still eat and drink while driving a manual. Commuting in stop and go freeway traffic? Just gauge the average speed and maintain it. Let the automatic drivers stop and start. Use the brakes as little as possible.

  20. They must have sold out the base model 2019s. Only SE available on the web site now. Nice to see it's popular.

  21. I always go half clutch if I am on a steep hill and the car has enough pick up to not roll in reverse. Classy review though!

  22. Honestly there are much more than enough white guys reviewing cars..great to see a woman doing so. Women make up half of car buyers so having their perspective is important

  23. Outstanding review! I’m a male but appreciate a female point-of-view. Very thorough, intelligent and practical look at the car.

  24. Nice video, well said.. Manual all the way too! I just purchased the 2019 civic.. The 6spd manual feels more like an automatic– I'm not digging it so much to be honest.. I should have car shopped around a tad more.

  25. Just got this exact car. Your review is one of them that sold me on the car. Thanks Elana & Edmunds! 6-speed is very fun 🙂

  26. You are very attractive, Elana. And , great review. In fact I will buy one of these Corollas. Maybe even a stick shift, after watching this

  27. Love the looks of this car. It's a hatchback, it's a cool color blue, the outside and interior both look GREAT and the hp is decent for a naturally aspirated engine. The price is a little steep but I'd be willing to let that slide possibly because of corolla reliability BUT the no Android Auto……I'll pass. Deal breaker.

  28. @4:00 I think the idea behind the audio volume for directions separate is so you can choose to have it muted and your music loud or vise versa. I experienced this in my 2003 Celica today when I choose to use Google Maps on my phone with the auxiliary cable. For some reason when directions come up on the phone it's much louder through the voice of the directions compared to the music but you can't make it the other way around where the music loud and voice is lower. I could be wrong though…

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