2019 Toyota Corolla Hatch SE: A Rock Solid Virtue. Cliff Leppke – CleanMPG – October 29, 2019 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatch Once upon a time, Toyota urged people to get their hands on one; you’d never let go. Now, you can...let go. The 2019 Corolla Hatchback has Safety Sense 2.0, which includes lane-keep assist and radar cruise control. Toyota, however, doesn’t recommend hands-free driving. A leather-wrapped steering wheel’s button lets you end the guidance system or add traffic-sign recognition. Additional aids include automatic high beams, blind spot warning and a pedestrian detecting braking system. Corollas ride on a new global platform. This scheme lets Toyota build a variety of vehicles utilizing the same automotive Lego blocks. It gives the hatchback a lower center of gravity. Toyota, also, added power: a twin-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 palominos. There are two transmissions: a six-speed ”intelligent” manual transmission (iMT) or a continuously variable transmission. Corolla’s CVT has a sport mode, paddle shifters and a manu-matic shifter. It apes a 10-speed sequential automatic with engine braking. Selecting sport changes steering effort. While sport sounds appealing, the caffeinated engine’s Osterizer din doesn’t. The CVT is like some craft brews—an acquired taste. It’s better and less bitter than some CVTs. Why? The Corolla has a fixed gear launch. When you step on the go pedal, engine revs correspond to forward motion. Plus, this efficient powertrain (EPA rated 32 city, 42 highway, 36 mpg combined) performs competently. It settles down to 1,500 rpm at 60 mph but will rise to about 3,000 rpm when climbing hills. I observed 37 mpg overall. Driven sedately, the Corolla is a relatively quiet. Wind rush, road noise and tire thumps are obvious, though. It rides softly, as if it’s sprung with bungee cords. Lumpy roads punch through causing the LED headlight flutter. High beams are effective. The front chin scrapes alley approaches. Guiding this Toyota isn’t fun. The 205/55/16-inch Dunlop Enasave tires don’t bite. It’s like rolling atop marbles. Optional 18-inch tires might improve steering response. This vehicle runs wide in corners; tires howl in protest. An emergency stop revealed an unhappy trait: a soft sinking brake pedal. Toyota’s interior decor is a mixed bag. The headliner looks like it’s fabricated from egg cartons. A rubbery dash pad and front door cards provide relief. Stitched vinyl fills in the dashboard’s fascia and graces the front side doors. Front legroom is generous, although the pedals and steering wheel, despite fiddling with seat rake, didn’t please this long-leg driver. Bolstered fabric-covered front seats offer adequate thigh support. Both front and rear riders get center armrests. The front one extends forward covering cup holders. Those in the not-for-Uber back will squirm. Space is tight. The upright rear backrest and high rear cushion are tolerable. Open the aluminum rear lid (hood is lightweight too) and you’ll discover a high load floor. Remove the cargo cover before inserting loading grocery bags. The 60/40-split rear seat backs fold flat. Since you can tilt the rear headrests, it’s easy to drop the aft backrests for max cargo room. Toyota improved its controls. The shift lever’s indicator, the side door switches and the steering wheel’s buttons are now lit. The 4.5-inch info screen adjacent to the speedometer washes out in bright daylight. Driving data, such as cruise control speed, are tiny. Keyless entry and pushbutton start are standard. A simple temp knob tweaks the automatic climate control. The eight-inch infotainment touchscreen has Apple CarPlay. You must download Toyota’s Entune app for your Android device. The six-speaker tunes player sounds mediocre, as if it were monophonic. Small volume control and tuning knobs project far enough. Your voice can request stations. Toyota asks $23,639 for the SE hatchback which includes $1,400 for the Preferred Package and blind spot monitor. Corolla buyers expect economical carefree low-cost motoring. This is stingy with fuel. Seven airbags, vehicle stability control and smart stop technology offer improved occupant protection. Two fake exhaust outlets might impress your neighbors.