Although crossovers are eating away at the sales of traditional cars, there remain plenty of options for those who aren’t sure they want an SUV. The 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback goes on sale before the end of the summer and will sit alongside the C-HR in dealerships nationwide. Does opting for the lower, more conventional Corolla have its advantages? What do you get on the C-HR that makes it better than the Corolla? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Read the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback First Test here.
The 2019 Corolla hatchback is powered by a new 2.0-liter I-4 that makes a 168 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of whether you choose the standard six-speed manual or the optional CVT, the 2019 Corolla hatchback is quicker to 60 mph than the C-HR by 2.8 to 3.8 seconds. Credit the extra power compared to the C-HR’s older 2.0-liter, which only makes 144 hp and 139 lb-ft.
Weight is also a factor because the 2019 Corolla hatchback checks in at just a little over 3,000 pounds. The C-HR, at 3,300 pounds, is heavy for a front-drive-only subcompact crossover, and it’s down 24 hp and 12 lb-ft compared to the Corolla, meaning the funky crossover lacks the straight-line performance its looks might make you assume it has.
With the standard six-speed manual, the 2019 Corolla hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and the CVT-equipped model did the task in 8.5 seconds. The manual car finished the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 87.0 mph, but the CVT-equipped model wasn’t far behind at 16.5 seconds at 85.4 mph.
By comparison, the quickest 2018 C-HR we tested took a sluggish 10.3 seconds to hit 60 mph and finished the quarter mile in 17.9 seconds at 77.4 mph. You’ll need every inch of a freeway on-ramp to get up to speed.
No Corolla has ever been as stylish as the 2019 hatchback, which causes heads to turn. With its aggressive front end with its thin LED headlight clusters and massive grille, the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback grabs lots of attention, especially in striking colors.
Even so, the C-HR is like a concept car that made it to production with minimal changes. From its angular silhouette and aggressive front fascia to its three-dimensional taillights and available two-tone exterior paint, the C-HR really stands out.
All of that style comes at a cost, and in the 2019 Corolla you lose out on passenger and cargo space. The car’s sexy exterior design cuts into the cabin with the cargo area taking the largest hit. At 17.8 cubic feet, the 2019 Corolla is not far behind most of its rivals, but passenger space is also compromised with less knee- and legroom than most compact hatchbacks.
The taller Toyota C-HR doesn’t take as much of a hit, with 19.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 36.4 cubic feet with the second row folded. Unlike the Corolla hatchback, there’s more horizontal space for bulky items, and the rear seats don’t lose out much. There’s less space in the C-HR than in other subcompact crossovers, but when compared to the 2019 Corolla hatchback, the C-HR is the more practical model. However, the cool exterior sheet metal styling of the C-HR means interior consequences – rear-seat occupants may feel a bit penned in.
Fuel Economy—Advantage: Corolla
With the standard six-speed manual, the 2019 Corolla hatchback is rated at 28/37 mpg city/highway and 32/42 mpg with the automatic. Step up to the XSE trim, and the automatic-equipped model’s fuel economy drops to 30/38 mpg, which is still excellent.
In comparison, the Toyota C-HR is rated at 27/31 mpg. One reason for the C-HR’s less-than-stellar fuel economy is its weight. Like its straight-line performance, the C-HR’s efficiency is compromised because of its nearly 3,300-pound curb weight, which is almost as heavy as some of its rivals when equipped with all-wheel drive.
For 2019, the Toyota Corolla hatchback gets Entune 3.0, which comes with more compatible apps including Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Models without embedded navigation come with Scout GPS Link, which isn’t the most user-friendly unit and requires you to download the Entune 3.0 app in order to use it with your phone.
Entune 3.0 and Apple CarPlay will come standard on the 2019 C-HR, which means it will finally get a modern infotainment system. Upgraded infotainment functionality will be available on the XLE and Limited trims, which should give the C-HR a much-needed infusion of tech. Neither vehicle gets Android Auto functionality.
The 2019 Corolla hatchback is a big step forward over the sedan and outgoing Corolla iM hatch thanks to a new platform and independent rear suspension setup. As a result, the 2019 Corolla rides comfortably, and the chassis easily absorbs most road imperfections. However, the 18-inch alloy wheels with ultra-high-performance all-season tires on the XSE make excessive noise on poor road surfaces.
However, we also found the C-HR to be quite loud inside, with wind, tire, and engine noise permeating the cabin. Although the 2018 C-HR comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, its tires have more sidewall, which helps isolate the cabin from road imperfections. The slightly raised suspension also helps in maximizing ride comfort and keeping harshness minimal on poorly maintained roads. For 2019, the C-HR gets a new base trim called the LE with standard 17-inch steel wheels, which should be quieter and better isolate the passenger compartment from road imperfections.
Not only does the 2019 Corolla hatchback’s independent suspension help it ride better, it also improves its handling, moving its sportiness up a notch. Take it up a winding mountain road, and you’ll find that this Corolla is willing to dance, although its steering feels disconnected. Its low center of gravity keeps it planted on the road through turns, and body motions are kept to a minimum.
The C-HR’s dynamic capabilities lag behind those of the 2019 Corolla mainly due to its being slightly taller and having less grippy tires. It lacks the Corolla’s nimbleness , and it doesn’t inspire the same level of confidence when you’re driving through tight, twisty roads. Steering inputs are darty and imprecise, and driving smoothly takes some practice.
Both the 2019 Corolla and 2018 C-HR come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beams. The 2019 Corolla with the CVT gets an even more comprehensive list of safety tech that includes lane tracing assist and a full-speed adaptive cruise control system. Neither car is available with all-wheel drive – an odd lapse for the C-HR, given that Toyota is marketing it as a crossover.
The most expensive example of the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback checks in at just a little over $27,000, and that gets you a long list of features including navigation, an eight-speaker JBL audio system, a wireless phone charger, and adaptive LED headlights. That’s on top of the already long list of standard equipment included in the XSE trim, making it a strong proposition if you’re looking for a stylish compact.
As for the Toyota C-HR, the funky little crossover gets a new base LE trim and a new range-topping Limited grade for 2019. With the crossover’s lower fuel economy ratings, less engaging driving dynamics, and a cabin that feels less premium than the Corolla’s, the C-HR’s comparative value proposition drops unless you admire its unmistakable styling and slightly higher seating position.
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