Review: Toyota Corolla (2019)
Far better to drive than the Auris. Hybrid models are very efficient. Interior feels upmarket. Plenty of equipment as standard.
Not as practical as rivals. No diesel option.
Toyota Corolla (2019): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 94% of the official MPG figure
How do you compete with cars like the ever-popular Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic? Toyota thought it had it sussed with the old Auris. The Auris played on Toyota’s excellent reliability record and offered something different in the form of a hybrid engine - but it was lacklustre to drive and the interior felt generations behind, even when the outgoing model was new in 2013.
In a segment that now includes the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq, more effort is required. Enter the return of the Corolla. Although a conventional petrol engine is available, the majority of buyers will opt for what Toyota controversially describes as a ‘self-charging’ hybrid.
Essentially, buyers can choose between 1.8- or 2.0-litre petrol engines, combined with an electric motor. Most of the time it runs under a combination of the two, aiding efficiency, but for short periods at low speeds, it'll run under electric power alone.
Taking the trick engine out of the equation for a moment, the Toyota Corolla is a likeable family hatch. Its interior is modern (to even compare it to the Auris would be unfair), with a large eight-inch touchscreen display sitting on top of the dash. It’s easy to operate and, if you prefer old-fashioned buttons, don’t fear - there are plenty of those too.
The front seats are very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment. Things aren’t quite so positive in the rear, when head and legroom is quite limited for adults. The space is fine for children, with a reasonable view out of the window - but this is a car that’s primary aimed at buyers who’ll only occasionally wish to use the rear seats.
The boot also falls short compared to rivals - especially in the hybrid models, with the batteries eating into boot space. It’s fine for a weekly shop, but you’d be better with a Honda Civic if space is important.
While enthusiastic drivers should buy a Ford Focus, the Toyota Corolla remains surprisingly composed on twisty roads, without too much in lean. The steering gives you lots of confidence, and around town it's light enough to make darting in and out of traffic a breeze.
Unfortunately, the Toyota Corolla isn’t a cheap option. It’s pricier than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf - which is traditionally seen as one of the more premium cars in the class (although it is showing its age compared to the Corolla). If you’re after a hybrid, the Hyundai Ioniq is cheaper.
Even the cheapest models are very well equipped, however, with the central touchscreen display, a reversing camera and heated front seats standard across the range. Toyota's Safety Sense features - including automatic high beam and lane deperature alert - are also standard on all trim levels.
In a time when more car buyers than ever are considering a hybrid, the Corolla is a car that can be legitimately recommended for reasons other than its eco-credentials. It's loaded with kit, has a comfortable interior and - surprisingly - is good to drive. Combine that with low running costs and Toyota's superb reliability record, and it could make for an excellent purchase.
What does a Toyota Corolla (2019) cost?
Buy a used Toyota Corolla from £21,991
Toyota Corolla (2019): What's It Like Inside?
Toyota has traditionally put build quality ahead of style when it comes to interiors - with hard but functional plastics and seats that are hard-wearing but not particularly cosseting.
In a huge contrast with the old Auris, the Corolla is quite aesthetically pleasing. It feels more upmarket than a Ford Focus, with plenty of soft-touch materials and clever features.
Getting a comfortable seating position is easy, thanks to plenty of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel. Even the tallest of drivers will find that the front seats slide far enough back for them to drive comfortably, while headroom is pretty generous.
Things aren't as positive in the rear, where tight footwells and a high window contribute to a slightly claustrophonic feel for adults. It's fine for children, but adults sitting in the rear will wish you'd opted for a Honda Civic or Skoda Octavia.
The same could be said for boot space, which is deemed average at best - especially on hybrid models. Fortunately, the rear seats split 60:40 and can be dropped pretty quickly should you need to carry bigger loads. Access is obstructed slightly by the high rear bumper, and the boot's slightly awkward shape - impeded by the wheelarches - doesn't help, either.
Standard equipment is generous, with all models getting an eight-inch media display in the centre of the dashboard. This features navigation on all but entry-level Icon trim. It's a simple enough system to use, although the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will be frustrating to some.
Specification (May 2019):
Icon models feature Toyota's Safety Sense (pre-collision system, automatic high beam, lane departure alert, lane trace assist, sway warning and road sign assist), ISOFIX child seat anchors on outer rear seats, 4.2-inch colour TFT information display, electronic parking brake, electric power steering, electric windows, push-button start (hybrid models), reversing camera, 8-inch infotainment system, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, alartm, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, 60:40 folding rear seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, LED headlights and daytime running lights.
Icon Tech adds a 7-inch information display, intelligent park assist, rear parking sensors, navigation with voice activation.
Design features rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 17-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding door mirrors, LED front fog lights, rear privacy glass.
Excel models come with part-leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-lead headlights with lightguides.
Child seats that fit a Toyota Corolla (2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Toyota Corolla (2019) like to drive?
The entry-level 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is fine around town, but will soon start to feel out of its depth during motorway driving. It won’t be as economical as the hybrids in the real world, either.
Unsurprisingly, the hybrids are the star of the show. There’s a 1.8-litre already used in the C-HR and Prius, and a new 2.0-litre introduced for the Corolla.
For most buyers, the 1.8-litre will be more than sufficient. It's eager enough, with enough performance to join the motorway or perform the occasional overtake. Accelerate hard and there's the usual irritating noise of the CVT transmission, but it's less obvious than it was in the Auris. Most drivers won't be too concerned.
If you do want a bit more performance, the 2.0-litre has a healthy 180PS and 190Nm of torque. This means you don't have to work the engine as hard to pick up speed, cutting down the amount of time passengers are subject to the unpleasant engine noise caused by the CVT gearbox. Once you're up to speed and off the accelerator, the Corolla is a refined and leisurely cruiser, with little in the way of road or wind noise making its way into the cabin.
No matter which engine you opt for, the Corolla rides superbly. Its suspension isn’t easily unsettled, and is more comfortable than the likes of the Ford Focus.
Despite that, it also handles surprisingly well. The steering is nicely communicative on twisty roads, while excellent visibility and light steering helps around town. It’s in town that the Corolla is at its best, with the hybrid system and CVT automatic transmission working well to provide a smooth ride. The transmission suits the car well, ironing out any hesitation at junctions.
Moving the shift lever to 'B' increases the amount of regenerative braking in the hybrid models, meaning it'll automatically decelerate as you lift off the accelerator, pumping energy back into the battery. While this isn't as severe as in pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, it does mean you won't have to use the brakes as much when driving through urban areas.
|1.2||45 mpg||10.1 s||128–132 g/km|
|1.8 Hybrid||63 mpg||10.9 s||76–83 g/km|
|2.0 Hybrid||54 mpg||10.9 s||89 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Toyota Corolla (2019)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Toyota Corolla (2019)?
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