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Having first been introduced to the market all the way back in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has remained as a steady competitor in the subcompact sedan segment. Over the years, a lot of changes have been made, and the new 2019 Toyota Corolla embraces quite a few of those changes. However, the Corolla has a few serious drawbacks, including an overall lackluster driving performance that gives its competitors quite the edge this year. Still, the Corolla does manage to offer a lot in the way of safety, comfort, and a user-friendly set-up.
What's New for 2019?
The 2019 Toyota Corolla essentially carries over unchanged from the 2018 model year. In fact, the Corolla has not seen too many major changes since it was revamped for the introduction of the 11th generation of Corollas in 2014.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2019 Toyota Corolla – The Pros
1. A Spacious Cabin
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla has plenty of space for all occupants, whether they are riding up front or in the back. In the rear, passengers get 41.4 inches of leg space, and there is also plenty of head room to spare, making it easy for taller adults to fit comfortably in the seats. Since the floor is designed to be relatively flat, this keeps the seats at a reasonable height. Overall, you'll be hard-pressed t find another subcompact with this much room in the rear.
2. Comfortable Seating On the SE Trim
If you go with the SE trim or higher, you are bound to enjoy endless hours of comfort in the sport seats. They are extremely well-bolstered and provide more than sufficient lumbar support for the spine and hips. These seats are upholstered in a very breathable SofTex cloth fabric that adds an extra element of comfort for the rider. The front sport seats might feel a bit too narrow for larger drivers, but they work well enough for the average adult.
3. Many Standard Safety Features
Toyota takes the safety of its vehicles quite seriously, and this is the arena in which is seems to put in the utmost effort when designing their models. The 2019 Toyota Corolla is loaded with plenty of standard safety features, and there are a number of desirable optional add-ons as well. As far as standard safety features go, the Corolla comes with the Toyota Safety Sense suite. This bundles advanced driver aids such as a system that detects collisions before they happen and alerts drivers to pedestrians, lane departure warning that comes with a steering assistance feature, automatic high beam lights, and dynamic radar cruise control.
4. Door Openings Are Wide
For those who need extra space to get in and out of the vehicle, rest assured knowing that door openings on the Toyota Corolla are extra wide. You will not have to worry about bumping your head on the door frame since the doors are also pretty tall and there is a low overstep height on the vehicle. The wide doors make loading a child safety seat into the rear seat a lot easier as well.
5. Voice Controls Work Well
Voice controls are often finicky on vehicles since the technology behind them is still being refined. Simple hand gestures made while talking activate unwanted features on many of the Corolla's competitors. However, the 2019 Toyota Corolla has voice controls that function well by responding to the appropriate commands. Also, if the voice controls seem to respond inappropriately at any point, there is an optional training system that will help voice control recognize your voice better. Also, Toyota's Entune app allows you to access and use more voice control features, and if you have an iPhone, you can utilize Siri by pressing down longer on the button.
6. The Sporty Exterior
Some vehicles in this segment look a bit dull and outdated, but the Corolla sticks with its sporty appeal. The front fascia has an aggressive personality to it with its large grille, angled headlights, and sloping lid. In fact, the black grille looks chic regardless of which body color you decide to pair it with. The front fascia is also where you will notice some very minor redesigned elements from the 2018 model - changes which made the vehicle look even sportier than before.
7. The Optional Manual Transmission on the SE Trim
The SE trim level is really where it's at with the 2019 Toyota Corolla. This trim lets you add an optional 6-speed manual transmission, which seems to boost the performance of the Corolla's engine. Toyota has added a new downshifting rev matching feature to the manual-equipped models which creates steadier downshifts because it changes the engine speed to parallel the gear that you are shifting the vehicle into. This is a welcome change and makes learning to drive on a stick shift a whole lot easier for beginners. Of course, the manual transmission is also available on the line-topping XSE trim, but the SE has the better overall value for the cost.
8. The Infotainment System
Toyota's infotainment system, Entune, provides plenty of apps and comes as a complimentary subscription for Toyota owners. You can use Entune's advanced voice recognition features to minimize hands-on usage of controls. Navigation is also available via Entune. While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not yet available on the Corolla (as they are being piloted this model year on just the Avalon, Camry, and Sienna), there are plenty of other music app options on Entune.
9. User-friendly Controls
Controls on the 2019 Toyota Corolla seem to be laid out well and seem to function with ease. The climate controls are especially straightforward and do a good job of regulating airflow throughout the cabin. Everything on the dash is easy to reach and is well-labeled, as are the menus and buttons that you will find on the touchscreen display.
10. Good Visibility From the Front and Rear
Even though a rearview camera comes standard on every Toyota Corolla, it is not the most necessary feature. Visibility is good from both the front and rear thanks to the massive front and rear windshields and slender roof pillars. Also, headrests on the seats do a good job of not elevating so high that they get in the way of the view of the vehicle's rear.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2019 Toyota Corolla – The Cons
1. A Lackluster Driving Performance
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the 2019 Toyota Corolla is that the engine provides a less-than-exciting driving performance. Whether you get the standard 1.8-L 4-cylinder or the LE Eco's engine, you are getting something that is vastly under-powered. When you consider the fact that this engine configuration hasn't been altered since 2009, it is easy to understand why the Corolla falls short of its competitors.
2. A Sub-par Fuel Economy
Fuel economy also suffers on the Toyota Corolla sedan, coming in at 32 combined mpg (28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway). Considering that competitors like Honda manage to snag better numbers, the Corolla sedan's popularity might wane this year.
3. A Lack of Acceleration
With a staggeringly under-powered engine, it is no wonder that acceleration on the 2019 Toyota Corolla is sluggish. The engine puts forth a lot of whining while accelerating, and the CVT slows it down even more. The Corolla gets from 0 to 60 mph in just about 10 seconds, which is exceedingly slow for its segment. Getting up to speed on the highway is definitely quite the task.
4. The Interior Looks Cheap
Unlike its chic exterior, the interior of the Toyota Corolla has a cheapened look to it. There is simply too much hard plastic to be found throughout the cabin, which makes the vehicle look gaudier than quite a few of its competitors. The overall design is not ugly, but it does not feel contemporary and high-quality.
How it stacks up to the competition:
2019 Toyota Corolla vs. 2019 Mazda 3
The 2019 Mazda 3 amps up the feeling of luxury, inside and out, despite being priced for the average consumer. This sporty vehicle has some of the best crash test scores for the segment and provides a much more engaging drive than the Corolla. However, the 3 lacks cargo space, which is truly its biggest drawback.
2019 Toyota Corolla vs. 2019 Honda Civic
Another top competitor for the model year is the 2019 Honda Civic. With its impressive fuel economy and much more powerful turbocharged engine, the Civic is easily the more exciting car to drive. It also features a massive list of standard safety features and has a well-designed, spacious cabin with numerous high-quality materials. The Civic does have some tech and safety features that can be overly touchy or not sensitive enough. However, these are just minor gripes.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla has quite a few good things going for it, including a spacious interior and easy-to-use controls. The powertrain's performance, though, really drags down the ability for the driver to enjoy getting behind the wheel of the Corolla. Unfortunately, in a tough market where sedans are struggling to stay afloat, the Corolla seems to be getting lost in the mix.
• Why buy a 2018 Toyota Corolla? w/ pros vs cons