Stick Shift: 2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback

The practical little Toyota Corolla gets the hatchback treatment for 2019. A 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder under the hood churns out 168 hp. Paired to a 6-speed manual transmission, and the resulting performance is starting to flirt with semi-sporty. A sluggish 0-60 won’t help its case. However, the Corolla’s sharp, angular design, 18” machined wheels, gloss black grille surround, rear diffuser and spoiler certainly will. 

In addition to all that exterior flair, a long list of safety features and standard conveniences can be found. Pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and more all make the list. It’s a lot of technology in a car at this price point. The obvious value is hard to deny. 

Climb aboard and you’ll find the Corolla hatchback XSE is plenty spacious, even in the back. The Sport seats stay comfortable after hours of driving, are heated, and look sharp with leather trim. The heavy use of plastic elsewhere will diminish the quality feel of the interior in some respects. But generally, the Corolla XSE has a user-friendly design and clutter free feel that’s pleasing to the eye. A 7.0” multimedia display, bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and Apple CarPlay will deliver up the tech to satisfy most as well. 

Photo via: Toyota

The top of the line XSE model features a sport mode, delivering slightly more aggressive sound and driving dynamics. Even with the aide of this mode, and a 6-speed transmission to boot, the Corolla has never had a reputation for delivering a fun, dynamic driving experience. Sadly, the 2019 XSE hatchback is no exception. The little Toyota has been around long enough to have a clear reputation. Though its never been one of scintillating performance, it is one of reliability, practicality, affordability and safety.

 In this respect, nothing much has changed. Though the XSE hatchback may have all the sporty good looks of a higher performing car, it’s still a borderline bore to drive. If show matters more than go to you though. If price, reliability, and a sizable list of driving aides rank higher than a fast launch from a red light. Than the latest Toyota Corolla has never been a more appealing option.

Price as tested: $25,123.00

By: Brandon Randall

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