2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE Manual new car reviews

As far as we were concerned, the big news surrounded the all-new Toyota Corolla wasn’t the impressive efficiency, roomy cockpit or the snazzy looks. It was the availability of a real manual transmission.

And then our tester wasn’t so equipped. Insert sad face emoji.

Well guess what? We just drove the stick shift version.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I’m writing this while listening to GWAR’s “Viking Death Machine.” Did I plan that? No, of course not. I’m not that coordinated. But I do like my GWAR, even with Blothar at the helm.

And I’m also a fan of manual transmissions. Yes, auto boxes have gotten really, really good lately–and I’m looking at you, Porsche, AMG and Lexus, for delivering some stellar examples.

But we can all agree that there’s something about stirring your own stew. Control. Nuance. Timing.

The Corolla doesn’t shift like a Miata, but for a front-drive economy car, it’s totally perfect. The ratios are spaced nicely, the action is spot-on, and the clutch action feels good.

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MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
5/7/19 8:09 p.m.

Do these have the same issue that the camry's do? Where if you pull the abs/tc fuses the car just refuses to start? You know for having fun.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/7/19 9:08 p.m.

I really like these, a lot. A little bit pricier than the Civic Hatchback Sport (at least the MSRP, seeing it fairly cheap at dealers) and a bit more than the Fit Sport Manual but looks like a solid car. 

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
5/7/19 10:56 p.m.

I sling parts for Toyota. Last year I bought a Honda. My GM asked why I didn’t buy a new Corolla instead. “Because you didn’t have one with a standard trans, boss.”

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
5/8/19 7:06 a.m.
barefootskater said:

I sling parts for Toyota. Last year I bought a Honda. My GM asked why I didn’t buy a new Corolla instead. “Because you didn’t have one with a standard trans, boss.”

Funny.  I sling parts for Acura.  Nice cars but as far as I'm concerned they are pretty boring.  But back to the topic.  Nice to see that the manual trans is still not dead.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
5/8/19 7:16 a.m.

The review article seems to be titled "2019 None Corolla Hatchback XSE Manual" in my browser's title bar.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
5/8/19 8:00 a.m.

I have trouble wrapping my head around a Corolla hatchback with 168hp, 18" wheels with 225s, and a curb weight north of 3000lbs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see the manual option in there, but the whole package has grown well beyond what my brain perceives as an entry-level compact.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
5/8/19 9:30 a.m.
02Pilot said:

I have trouble wrapping my head around a Corolla hatchback with 168hp, 18" wheels with 225s, and a curb weight north of 3000lbs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see the manual option in there, but the whole package has grown well beyond what my brain perceives as an entry-level compact.

But that's been the way with all car manufacturers since the '60s at least.  Every model gets a little bigger / fancier / more powerful / more expensive every generation, so the marketing droids can have a long list of "improvements".  Then new, small, basic models are introduced to replace the bloated, aging nameplates and begin the Automotive Circle of Life ® anew.

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
5/8/19 10:01 a.m.

^Yep. Why do you think Toyota has a Yaris hatch (which is a Mazda2 btw)?

A modern 3 series is about the size of a 80s 7-series as far as I can tell. 

I really like these new Corollas. It's literally the only good looking Toyota/Lexus product I can think of right now. I do wish they hadn't put those fake exhaust outlets though. Otherwise, it looks great and it sounds like it drives well too. Thank you Toyota.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
5/8/19 10:41 a.m.
02Pilot said:

I. a Corolla hatchback with...and a curb weight north of 3000lbs..

This is great. This means my Mustang GT is as light as a Corolla! 

Our pizza guy was driving one of these in white about a month back. It was cool looking enough I asked what it was and went out to walk around it. And he bought the manual. I tipped extra for the manual.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
5/8/19 11:21 a.m.

Rationally, I understand the natural evolution of models, but it still doesn't compute in my aging, nostalgic brain. Get off my lawn!

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/8/19 8:28 p.m.

Honda Fit Sport Manual - 2597lbs - 130HP $18,000

Honda Civic Sport Hatchback - 2871lbs - 180HP - $22,500

Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE - 3060lbs - 168HP - $23,140

 

As much as I like the look of the XSE and that it has decent power, if I were in the market for a budget hatch I would go for the Fit - or find a dealer thats market GTI Rabbits down to $21k! 

te72
te72 Reader
5/9/19 12:19 a.m.
02Pilot said:

I have trouble wrapping my head around a Corolla hatchback with 168hp, 18" wheels with 225s, and a curb weight north of 3000lbs. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see the manual option in there, but the whole package has grown well beyond what my brain perceives as an entry-level compact.

No kidding! I know the new car is every bit as far removed from the fourth gen Corolla as I am by this point, but man... those are some crazy numbers. Mine had "adequate" power, five forward gears, enough seats, and just 1900 lbs or so to move around. What a fun little nugget it was! =)

Ozzy
Ozzy New Reader
5/10/19 4:26 p.m.

I looked at the numbers on these when I was looking for a fun, cheap, hot hatch.  It did look "adequate" but not necessarily fun especially at that price.  I went with the Hyundai R-Spec & after 1.5 months (1,700 miles) I am still loving my choice.

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
5/10/19 5:06 p.m.

Saw one of these just minutes after reading this post. They look ok. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. So, a typical Toyota that I never would have even noticed if I hadn't just read about it.

The rear bumper/lower fascia looks really, really weird in person, like it was some kind of afterthought they just bolted onto the back after they finished the car because of the vertical crease that runs along the rear reflectors. At least on a light-colored car. On a black one it would probably look more "part of the car"

Seems that Honda and Toyota have a thing with making funky rear bumpers and valances for some reason, on their small cars like the Civic and this...

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
5/11/19 11:01 a.m.

That shift lever is well hung...

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