Josh is letting me have a crack at reviewing a car for once. And the car I chose was the brand new 2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback. I’m in love, and below is why. 

The car we had was a pre-production model. Not everything on this car had been finalized for sale yet. However, the car seemed complete enough that Josh and I doubt they’ll change anything truly specific, more just simple tweaks. 

My main car is a 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec. I’ve put more than 45,000 miles on my car since buying it brand new. Oh, and it’s a manual. So when it comes to a hatchback it’s what I prefer. I drove the Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring we had a while back and while I liked it a lot, I wasn’t sold on it as my next new car. 

All of the cars that Josh has driven over the years, I have always questioned whether or not I’d want it as my next car. The Mazda3 I like. It’s a really good car, and Josh obviously loves it. But I feel like it’s a little too grown up for me. 

I’m twenty-six, which means I can get away with driving cars that are still considered young, or for the younger buyer. Josh has always wanted an STI, but now he’s in his 30s, so he says that he isn’t allowed to drive that every day. He wants a Focus RS, but he says he likes the Golf R more because it’s more adult. And he’s a boring adult. Me, I’m more adult than he is, but my age affords me the ability to drive kids’ cars. 

This brings me to the new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback that we had for a week. And it is… creative. This brand-new pre-production from Toyota will bring all the hatchback lovers out because it is not only appealing from the inside but also from the lively exterior in Oxide Bronze. I really liked the color, but it seemed most weren’t sold on it. A few people liked it, but more often than not they weren’t fans of a brownish exterior color on cars in general, while me and Josh like them. 

Let’s start with what sticks out the most on the inside: that beautiful 8-inch touchscreen (7″ actual display). With Toyota Entune (a Bluetooth connection service via an app) your favorite apps and features are customizable for easy access, and between your phone and the infotainment screen, it’s easy for all the apps and features to be accessible with the touch of a finger.

Aside from the screen, the amount of features you’ll find, such as heated seats, heads-up display, wireless charger, auto-brake hold, steering wheel controls, push button start, dual zone climate control, JBL sound system (the same one Josh couldn’t stop going on about in the new Camry XSE), leather trimmed sporty seats, not Recaros, but still fantastic, a CVT that feels like a dual-clutch gearbox, automatic high beams, adaptive headlights, and semi-autonomous driving features. Set your desired speed on the radar-guided cruise control, let your finger hang on to the steering wheel, and the Corolla Hatchback will speed up and slow down depending on cars in front of you, obviously, but the car will steer itself around slight corners on the highway. It was a really trippy feeling. 

Externally wise you get the true feel of a hatchback with five doors! I know this is cliché but it is truly a practical hatchback, the availability of space will not be a question when it comes to this Corolla. Baby got back (in the sense that she is a little wide in the back) but what good hatchback doesn’t?

Let’s talk about interior space. My Veloster Turbo R-Spec has 31.7 inches of rear legroom. The Corolla Hatchback has 29.9. We had the Corolla hatch the week of we were getting married. So a few days before our wedding I went to pick up my twin brother, his wife, and his 2 year old son at the airport. Upon putting my nephew’s car seat in the back, and then their luggage in the trunk, things were a bit tight. The rear hatch area features 18 cubic feet of space, versus the 15.5 cu-ft in my Veloster. The Corolla sedan features 41.4 inches of rear legroom with a 13 cubic foot trunk.

So it’s smaller in the backseat, but larger in the hatch. Once the seats are down, though, it’s a different story. Putting down the rear seats in the Corolla Hatchback increases things to 23.3 cu-ft, where as my Veloster has 34.7 cu-ft with the second row seats down. 

All of what I listed above was what I saw before, while and during driving the XSE Corolla. Driving the XSE Corolla its self was a lot of fun. This hatchback has got some pep in its step, with 168 horsepower at 151 lb-ft of torque. 

The thing I really liked about this car was that it had weight, and not in the sense of heaviness. I could feel the car in every turn and lane I merged into. Quite often people want to feel weightless while driving and it’s truly about your personal preference. However, when you get behind the wheel of this car It may not be the fastest in its class, but with all these great features and smooth handling this car will not disappoint. 

Moving on what sticks out externally on the XSE Hatchback is the unique rear layered roof spoiler. The chrome accents, aggressive bright LED lights (front, rear, and fog) and of course those artistic 18-inch alloy wheels. The rotor-like multi-spoke design was one of the first things that attracted me when I saw the Corolla in my driveway. 

The time we had the 2019 Corolla XSE Hatchback, Toyota didn’t have pricing or fuel economy numbers. But now they do. Our XSE CVT tester would be $24,985, including the $895 destination and handling fee. The XSE comes with no options except exterior and interior colors. The manual version will cost $23,885 after destination and handling. 

The EPA fuel estimates for the XSE CVT we had are 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, respectively, making 33 mpg combined. Josh and I had zero problems averaging between 30-33. We had to take an hour-ish long trip for a marriage workshop, and while I slept in the passenger seat, Josh said the fuel mileage average climbed a lot once we were on the highway for a good portion of time. 

Remember, that’s less than $25,000 for a car with the features I listed above, plus the safety features of more expensive cars. It features pre-collision and pedestrian detection systems, cyclist detection, lane departure warning and steering assist, road sign assist (displaying road signs on the navigation system), lane tracing assist (this function works when you’re using cruise control, and it keeps you in your lane), brake assist, smart stop technology, and brake-force distribution (this keeps the body more planted during hard emergency stops, making the front end dive less), oh and 7 airbags for front and rear, with driver knee airbags. 

I am not kidding when I say this, the 2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback might actually be my next car. Josh and I have already been talking about it. He estimated the car would be about 23-25,000, and I said with the options I was afraid it would be closer to 30,000 dollars. With the smaller size of the car, that would have been a deal breaker for me. But now that we know I could have a manual version for under $25,000, the Corolla hatchback makes a lot of sense for our animal-only family. 

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