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Toyota’s Corolla iM hatchback has the makings of a great car

Alright, I’ll admit it. At its base core, rests great motoring potential waiting for an injection of horsepower and torque. 2018 Corolla iM hatchback looks cool, is comfortable enough, and comes standard with some advanced active safety features. Quick, it's not.

As I stood there looking at the Barcelona Red Metallic Corolla iM hatchback, visions of high speed 2-lane sweeps came to mind. They weren't going to happen this week, or any other for that matter. As race ready ‘hot hatch” as the former Scion iM may look, its dance card is more Waltz than Jive, and as safe as a chaperoned first date in Spain with a lady in waiting and her dear old mother.

Don’t read me wrong, Corolla iM hatch has the high heels and dress to attend the “hot hatch” party. What’s been left behind at the home is the fire and soul to take Toyota’s well equipped, just off entry level hatchback, to a sporty hatchback segment full of qualified contenders -- iM may look it, but it’s not a “hot hatch.” But that’s cool, there’s much more to this car than horsepower and torque. For those that require all-wheel-drive, John tells us one may be coming soon.

While Corolla iM looks impressive complete with hatch wing, ground effects, and 17 inch alloy wheels, its engine and torque output ranks at the bottom of the class; and that is the only thing keeping Corolla iM from being a “great car.” Hold, on it’s coming, there are no major changes, refresh or upgrades schedulled for Corolla iM in 2018.

Parents, first time car owners, and road trip adventure lovers, 2018 Corolla iM may be perfect for you

Where Toyota Corolla iM excels is in the looks and drive comfort department. Toyota design does a very commendable job of presenting a well balanced hatchback design; close to the pavement, fat enough where it counts, and easy to look at. I find the headlight, grill design, lower air dams, taillight, hatch, and hatch wing integration to be exceptional; as is the overall ride quality of this economy hatchback.

Side effects bring the track inspired body design cues home, as do the well designed wheels; nice! On the interior we discover a well balanced, uncluttered center stack layout and dash. Toyota’s design language works well here, with precise, auto craftsmanship integration of hard and soft surfaces, piano black lacquer-like details, and an off white, hand stitched dash detail, leather covered steering wheel and shift boot completing the picture.

Our iM test car comes standard equipped with a very good 6 speed manual transmission, easy pressure clutch, ventilated front disc brakes, electric hydraulic assist steering, McPherson struts up front, and double wishbone rear suspension, front anti-sway bars, and reasonably rough road absorbing dampening. The standard treads on our red warrior are all season radials, although a bit noisy on variable road surfaces, they track well, as does Corolla iM in the corners. For hoe looking for exceptional Toyota sedan performance, 2018 Camry is without compromise.

Toyota Corolla iM seats are pleasingly comfortable

The seats while cloth covered in fabric and mechanically adjusted, are memory foam comfortable. Front row head, hip, leg and shoulder room is adequate, although drivers under 6 ft 2 inches tall will fit Corolla iM, better than our taller readers.

Corolla iM’s 2nd row is comfortable enough, although head clearance is a bit limited due to iM’s sweeping roof line. A 60/40 split second row provides a flexible hauling configuration, with a rear boot provided for securely hidden belongings in the hatch department when the second row is up in the passenger position.Toyota_Corolla_iM_Hatchback

Corolla iM features a 1.8 L DOHC fuel injected 4 cylinder engine, FWD and 6 speed MT or CVT

O.K., I ran out of space up there. Here’s the thing: For car buyers that prefer few choices and a very simple online build toll, Toyota Corolla iM hatchback may be the perfect car for you. Although a bit underpowered by segment standards, Toyota focuses its collective intent on providing a well equipped standard feature package with a beginning MSRP of just under $20,000. -- they succeed here in spades.

The icing on the cake that is Corolla iM is a relatively low output, clean burning, small displacement engine that averages a combined real-world 31 mpg during our week in the seat If properly maintained, and Toyota makes that easy, iM should run trouble free for a decade or more. Our Toyota expert John Goreham first encountered Corolla iM here.

While there are cheaper, and more powerful offerings available in the subcompact and compact hatchback segments, none of them (that I know of) offer a 2-year service, 24/7 roadside assist feature, active safety *accident avoidance warning, and autonomous pre collision brake application, when warranted. ABS, EBD, Toyota’s brand of lane-keep assist, all standard.

Toyota Corolla iM hatchback presents a very comprehensive package complete with a decent Pioneer 6-speaker stereo unit, controlled via a 7 inch static screen monitor that doubles as a command center and color backup camera with directional lines. You’ll find this car to be thoughtful and user friendly, if not the quickest hatchback in the segment.

Corolla iM hatchback redefines “performance” for some2017_Toyota_Corolla_iM_Hatchback

Not all that purchase a hatchback are weekend warrior club-car street racers. In-fact most owners simply prefer a hatchback configuration for it’s added utility, interior volume, and unique look. Corolla iM fits the bill while presenting a handful of near premium features, including power folding, heated side view mirrors, standard. You’ll also find Bluetooth and AHA connectivity with the sweep of a finger, or the tap of a finger on the smart wheel.

At the end of the day I looked back at an overall pleasant Toyota Corolla iA drive experience. While not exhilarating, Toyota’s portal hatchback got the job done. It does exactly what Toyota says it does; that’s honest enough for me. I recommend a test drive to anyone considering the lease or purchase of a moderately priced and equipped compact hatchback; a measurable value without any hidden markups as stated.

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