Carmakers are always looking for “white space,” a piece of the market where the competition is light to non-existent and a new product, provided it has some distinctive characteristics, has a chance to find an audience. After plenty of well-designed and well-tuned vehicles never find an audience because, like flowers, in an overgrown garden, they are crowded out.
The Toyota Corolla, as one of the bestselling automobiles made by any manufacturer, has another type of white-space problem: the competition is stifling in the crowded compact car segment. Searching for new space, Toyota reintroduced the Corolla Hatchback, a once-popular model that Toyota hopes will help it regain some cred with the crowd that once loved it, even though most American buyers have no interest in owning a five-door hatchback. The prefer small utility vehicles – which are nothing more than oversized five-door hatchbacks.
Offered in base SE and upscale XSE trim, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE has a character all its own. Setting it apart from the other vehicles in the Corolla line, the Hatchback can be fitted with a manual transmission. Space is at a premium, but it is well organized and there’s enough room for gear and groceries. At $26,000, the hatchback version of the Corolla is also more affordable than other cars in the hot hatch category, such as the Mazda3.
By exchanging the traditional Corolla notchback silhouette for a hatchback, this Corolla integrates its fifth door into the car’s roof line, visually encapsulating the car’s length from the windshield. The front grille and rounded rear liftgate lend the Toyota Corolla Hatchback greater distinction, while the rounded hatch makes the car’s overall visual appearance seem shorter and more rounded, even with the distinctive 18-inch wheels. A black roof spoiler and side mirror finish the outside of the car.
On the inside, the 2022 Corolla Hatchback XSE adapts the plain interior furnished with materials of good quality in a straightforward layout that includes the center-mounted screen and a modest amount of interior storage. The interior’s design leaves ample room for the driver to manage the manual transmission, with plenty of room for manipulating the shift lever and the clutch without interference from the other interior elements. Some cars with a manual transmission don’t seem to have the space needed to handle shifting. The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent as the hood slopes out of the view of the driver.
Being the XSE, the test vehicle came with more standard equipment than the base SE, including a power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats.
Both the 2022 Corolla Hatchback SE and XSE are equipped with 2.0-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission that comes equipped with an intelligent manual drive mode, aka rev-matching. The powertrain produces 168 horsepower and 151 foot-pounds of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s fuel economy at 28 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined.
Safety and technology
For a small, affordable passenger car, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is well equipped with driver assistance safety systems. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard and offers pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist. There’s also blind spot monitoring, a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beam, and road sign assistance.
The tech package is about what you’d expect, with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth.
The Corolla Hatchback is easy to maneuver with adequate power and speed for a small car, but not as much as its competition. The car is designed to be fun to drive – and it is to a point. Nevertheless, piloting the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is effortless thanks to the manual transmission’s clutch, which works easily and smoothly, while the shift lever is easy to use. The transmission engages quickly and makes the power of the 2.0-liter engine accessible. Handling is benignly predictable, with the agility that comes from being so diminutive.
|L: 172 inches/W: 70.5 inches/H: 57.1 inches/Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
|2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission
|28 mpg city/36 mpg highway/31 mpg combined
|168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $23,865; As tested: $25,950 including $1,025 destination charge.
Usually lumped into the hot-hatch category alongside the far more powerful (and more fun-to-drive) VW Golf GTI, Honda Civic R and Mazda3 Turbo, the Corolla Hatchback comes up short at 168 horsepower. But for anyone desiring a small hatchback with a manual transmission that’s somewhat fun-to-drive with adequate power and fuel economy, this is certainly worth considering. Certainly its price is very affordable by today’s standards, making it doubly attractive for anyone looking for less-expensive transportation.
How much should I pay for a 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback?
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback starts at $20,915 with the manual transmission and $22,015 with the automatic. The automatic-only SE Nightshade model starts at $22,915, while the XSE starts at $23,865 for the manual model and $24,965 for the automatic.
Will the 2023 Corolla Hatchback have AWD?
No. It comes only with front-wheel drive.
Are Corolla hatchbacks fast?
Acceleration is adequate, taking more than 7 seconds to reach 60 mph.