2019 Toyota Corolla

Performance


MSRP
$18,700
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Toyota Corolla Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2019 Toyota Corolla was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 6.9

The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a well-mannered car, with smooth, responsive handling. It also gets better fuel economy than most. Its driving dynamics aren't very exciting, and though the Corolla hatchback has a bit more kick, expect more of a comfortable cruiser than a zippy compact.

  •  +"Now, I would like to say something I have never had call to say in almost twenty years of writing about cars: This Corolla [Hatchback] is fun to drive. And I, for one, am willing to give up a little rarely used knee room in exchange for a good time." -- Consumer Guide
  • Performance has never been a Corolla strong suit, and it still isn't, especially given the current crop of compact cars. The engine hasn't changed since 2009 and the CVT seems conflicted about its identity. If you value an engaging drive, there are better options, including the new Corolla Hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • "Driving enthusiasts aside, most people will find much to like about the 2018 Toyota Corolla sedan. The ride is soft without excessive wallowing, and the steering is surprisingly responsive with... ... good on-center feel." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The standard powertrain in the Corolla sedan is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder matched with a CVT. A six-speed manual transmission is available. This 132-horsepower engine is timid, and needs ample asphalt to get up to speed. At least the gas mileage is good, with ratings that are 1 to 2 mpg above class average. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Corolla LE Eco models come with a version of the same engine that nudges horsepower up to 140 and bumps fuel economy up to 30/40 mpg city/highway.

The Corolla hatchback comes standard with a 168-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It's livelier than the sedan, though it feels sluggish next to the Volkswagen Golf. Acceleration is most satisfying when delivered by the polished, smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. The hatchback’s available CVT, on the other hand, can feel unrefined and unsure of itself. If this doesn't bother you, then you'll enjoy top-of-the-class fuel economy (for a nonhybrid), at 32/42 mpg city/highway.

  • … the 2019 Corolla hatchback's 2.0-liter I-4 is no powerhouse, but it's enough to get you up a steep incline and pass slower traffic. You do need to rev the engine toward redline, as it doesn't have much low-end torque. The standard six-speed manual has reasonable throws, gates that are easy to find, and an automatic rev-matching system that works smoothly and can be turned off with the press of a button … A CVT is optional, but it features delayed responses and jerky fake shifts when left to its own devices or using the paddle shifters to manually change between 10 preset ratios. Sport mode improves throttle response, but it's a little too touchy." -- Motor Trend
  • "The aging four-cylinder engine delivers underwhelming acceleration and whines unpleasantly when asked to work. This characteristic is exacerbated by the CVT, which tries to simulate transmission gear changes without success. We needed 10.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is quite slow for [a sedan in] the class." -- Edmunds
  • Powering the Corolla hatch is an all-new 2.0-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine. Dynamic Force is a bit of an overstatement … When the light turns green, it doesn't exactly explode off the line. It is, however, more robust than the 137-hp 1.8-liter mill in the iM it replaces. It does get rolling with some degree of enthusiasm -- more so with the 6-speed manual transmission than the CVT, despite the CVT's fixed first gear. Not only is the manual gear box smooth, but it also benefits from rev matching that further evens out transitions between cogs both during up shifts and down shifts." -- Autotrader

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Corolla is smooth and comfortable, and its suspension system does a nice job keeping the body in check for light antics around town. While the Corolla isn't very athletic, it still feels composed around turns, and it has precise steering and reassuring brakes.

  • "Toyota is finally getting the hang of electrically assisted power steering, and the Corolla hatchback's sensitive and quick system reflects that. This is a composed small car that rides well, communicates accurately with the driver through its leather-covered steering wheel, and is (barely) powerful enough to be entertaining." -- Car and Driver
  • "Without any real sporting intentions, the Corolla [sedan] exhibits surprisingly tidy handling. There isn't much grip supplied by the all-season tires, but we were surprised by how composed the Corolla remains at a mildly spirited pace, which is more than enough to make it feel lively around town." -- Edmunds
  • "While there's plenty to like about the Toyota Corolla, it is not the car for folks who want aggressive driving dynamics. It offers what often is called a 'boulevard ride.' For those who aren't looking to take corners hard, however, that's a definite plus. The Corolla offers a smooth ride that is comfortable over long drives. It doesn't wallow, however, and the current model has much more responsive steering than earlier versions of the sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
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