While the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 was expected to be the star of the Japanese auto maker’s New York show stand, the company surprised with the reveal of an all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, a body design not seen in years on this iconic compact. With a new engine, new chassis and new tech, the Corolla Hatchback is designed to make you forget everything you may have thought about it.

There's no question the new Corolla hatchback is a looker. Its narrow headlights form a J shape around the grille, itself a smaller version of what we've seen recently on the new Toyota Camry. The clean profile ends in a stubby hatchback with cutouts around the rear bumper that give it a protruding look. It's all quite fetching really, and we think it's going to look good out on the road.

UPDATE: You can now read our first review of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

However, drivers are going to be too busy admiring the interior to notice approving nods from others. The modern and linear dash boasts just enough styling to be interesting without looking busy or distracting. The standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display is mounted high on the dash, with buttons along the side for major functions and knobs for volume and tuning. You'll find air vents below the screen, then the climate controls below the vents. It's simple and clean, with most functions contained within the infotainment screen. On more practical matters, while Toyota hasn't given interior dimensions, we suspect that the larger exterior measurements will translate to a roomier interior, too.

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High Tech

As for technology, let's get this out of the way first: Yes, the new 2019 Corolla Hatchback has Apple CarPlay standard as part of the new Entune 3.0 audio system. However, that only scratches the surface. Entune 3.0 also includes Alexa connectivity, Wi-Fi connect, Scout GPS compatibility, voice recognition, and a host of other features. And that's on the base SE model; get the XSE (or order it for the SE) and it adds Sirius XM with cache, HD radio, and Toyota's Connected Services. A premium system adds an 800-wat 8-speaker JBL sound system with navigation and more. Smartphones can charge wirelessly via a Qi pad at the front of the center console, and XSE models come with dual-zone automatic climate control.

Also standard is Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which bundles a variety of active safety systems, many of which aren't even available on competitor's cars. A pre-collision system detects pedestrians and other cars, and includes automatic emergency braking. The adaptive cruise control is now full-speed, meaning it'll stay on all the way to a stop, good news for commuters. There's lane departure alert with steering assist, and a new feature called Lane Tracing Assist, which ensures the car stays in its lane by either recognizing the lines on the road or following the car ahead. Also included are automatic high beams.

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Powering the new 2019 Corolla is a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Internally it's called the M20A-FKS, but the rest of the world will know it as Dynamic-Force. Toyota's short on specifics like horsepower and torque, but it does say it'll be more powerful than the outgoing 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. It's smaller and lighter and is constructed to help reduce noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). It also uses a combination of high-pressure direct fuel injection and low-pressure port injection, adjusting which it uses depending on which system will provide optimum power and/or efficiency at any given time.

The engine sends power to the front wheels through one of two new transmissions. The first is a 6-speed manual, available in both the SE and XSE models. The manual is lighter and smaller than its predecessor, and now features automatic rev matching for downshifts, a decidedly sporty option for the Corolla. However, the new continuously variable automatic transmission boasts its own unique upgrades. Not only does it offer 10 "gears" that you can choose from, it has what Toyota calls a "launch gear." Basically, when moving away from a stop the transmission uses an actual gear, rather than the CVT's pulleys and belts. The upshot is that the sluggish launch from a stop that plagues nearly all CVT-type transmissions is reduced or eliminated. We're eager to try it out and see if it works in practice.

Prices haven't been announced yet, but we're expecting the new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback to come in a little higher than the Corolla iM's roughly $19,800 price thanks to all the new technology. However, we'd be happy to be wrong about that, too. We'll find out when the new Corolla Hatchback goes on sale later this summer.

See why KBB thinks this is one of the coolest cars under $20,000

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