The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback plays somewhat against type by being interesting to look at and not a complete snore to drive (characterizations that now also can be applied to the new Corolla sedan). After all, the latest Corolla hatch and upper trim versions of the sedan use a larger, 2.0-liter engine, boast an available six-speed stick with rev-matching, add a fixed first gear to their CVT, and swap the previous torsion beam rear suspension for a multilink setup. But one still gets the sense that there's unrealized potential here. Now Toyota is exploring that potential with the just-announced GR Sport version.
This sportified Corolla Hatchback wears GR Sport-specific lower body styling, a black mesh grille, and a rear diffuser. Additionally, there are special 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, fog lights, and rear privacy glass. The exclusive Dynamic Grey paint is two-toned with a black upper body. Inside, there are more aggressively bolstered bucket seats in cloth and leather or full leather, with contrast stitching. It's too bad the sporty upgrades don't extend to the mechanicals, but we will say the car looks pretty good.
Crossovers are king, and, for the past few years, the best-selling non-pickup on the market has been the Toyota Rav4. The Rav4 was completely revised for 2019, replacing an aging model that was one of the oldest vehicles in the class. The new model gets far more aggressive styling inside and out, taking quite a few cues from the midsize Toyota Tacoma pickup (check out the refreshed Taco right here). At the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota seems to be doubling down on the rugged-crossover theme with the new Rav4 TRD Off-Road.
The Rav4 has never really been an off-road sort of SUV. That's what the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser have been for. Even the early Rav4 models, as spartan as they were, were designed with on-road dynamics first. Still, with a bit of work, Toyota has shown its Rally America entry that the Rav4 has the bones to be fairly capable in the dirt. The Rav4 TRD Off-Road, while not exactly derived from Ryan Millen's rally car, is at least inspired by it.
Toyota has teamed up with Sumitomo Mitsui Auto Service Company to launch a new car subscription service with gamification elements in Japan. The program is called Kinto, and it'll offer two tiers: the first, called Kinto One, will allow you to drive one Toyota vehicle over a three-year period for anywhere between $420 and $900 a month. When the tier becomes available on March 1st, you can choose from the available Prius, Corolla Sport, Alphard, Vellfire and Crown models. The other tier called Kinto Select will give you the power to drive one of the available Lexus-branded vehicles for $1,630 a month for three years.
Now, what truly makes Kinto potentially more interesting than other leasing services is a rewards program that awards points based on how well you drive. Toyota didn't really expound on how it will work, other than saying that it will "award points to customers based on their vehicle usage (such as for safe or ecological driving)." As TechCrunch notes, the assumption is that the vehicle's in-car connected system will come with the ability to monitor your driving. Best thing about it is that the points you earn aren't useless rewards you can't even use: you'll be able to apply them toward payments.