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Edmunds compares Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla hatchbacks

Cameron Rogers, Edmunds

This undated photo provided by Mazda shows shows the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback, a new five-door version of the immensely popular Corolla sedan. (Courtesy of Mazda North America via AP)

The 2019 Toyota Corolla and the 2019 Mazda 3 are two of the newest small hatchbacks on the market. The Mazda 3 is completely redesigned for 2019 and features an upgraded interior and available all-wheel drive. The Corolla hatchback is a new addition to the Toyota lineup and is the debut body style for the newest Corolla generation. (The redesigned sedan will be released as a 2020 model-year vehicle.)

Both hatchbacks offer improved cabin materials, advanced driver safety aids and a strong, fuel-efficient engine. They are also practical and affordable. But each has its own advantages. Edmunds compares them so you can find out which one would work best for you.

PRICING

These hatchbacks cost more than their sedan counterparts. But for many buyers, the benefit of the larger cargo area outweighs the price premium. A manual transmission-equipped 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback starts at $20,920, including destination charges. Add an automatic transmission and you're looking at $22,020.

Contrast this with the Mazda 3 hatchback, which carries a manufacturer's retail suggested price of $24,520 for the base model and its standard automatic transmission. You do get more features for that price compared to the base Corolla, such as simulated leather upholstery and keyless door access. A more comparably equipped Corolla would cost $23,420.

In its highest trim level, the Corolla hatch tops out at $27,430. A fully loaded front-wheel-drive Mazda 3 carries an MSRP of $28,420. There's no doubt the Corolla is the less expensive of the two in a similar feature comparison, and the Toyota's more efficient engine means you'll pay a bit less at the pump too.

CARGO SPACE

Both of these vehicles have substantially more cargo-carrying capacity than their sedan equivalents. The Corolla hatch has a cargo hold measuring 18 cubic feet behind its rear seats compared to the 2020 sedan's 13.1 cubes. Meanwhile, the Mazda 3 hatch has 20.1 cubic feet of room versus 13.2 cubes in the sedan version.

Though it has less overall cargo room, the Corolla's taller load floor makes it a little easier to load and unload heavy items into the back. The Mazda's floor is a few inches below the door lip, so you might have to bend over and lean in a bit to reach stowed luggage. The rear seats in both cars fold nearly flat to increase cargo capacity.

INTERIOR DESIGN

The Corolla and Mazda 3 both impress in regards to interior design. The Corolla's cabin makes extensive use of soft-touch plastics, and contrast stitching and imitation leather accents further the upscale feel. The new touchscreen interface is intuitive and easy to use, and it now features Apple CarPlay functionality.

While the Corolla outdoes many rival hatchbacks with its cabin, the Mazda 3 redefines what a compact car's interior can look like. The extensive use of premium materials gives the 3's cabin an upmarket vibe that wouldn't look out of place in an entry-level luxury car. The central display screen is also redesigned and no longer features touchscreen capability. It takes a little while to get used to the dial controller, but it is ultimately easier to use and less distracting than a touchscreen.

THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE

You'll like the way these hatchbacks ride well over a variety of road surfaces. Keeping passengers comfortable over bumps and pavement cracks has always been a Corolla strong suit. Notably, the new Mazda 3 represents a huge improvement over the previous iteration.

A more supple ride has done nothing to dull the Mazda's reputation for sporty driving dynamics. The 3 still hugs twisty mountain roads with good grip and far less body roll than competitors. Drivers can carve through switchbacks for hours without getting tired. The Corolla also feels more buttoned-down and tightly controlled than its predecessor, but it can't quite match the Mazda 3 in terms of handling prowess.

Driving enthusiasts will be delighted to know that a six-speed manual transmission is available on either hatchback, although Mazda only offers one with the top-tier Premium package. Otherwise, the Corolla uses a continuously variable automatic transmission, while the 3 utilizes a traditional six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on both. The Mazda 3 also offers an all-wheel-drive powertrain, which will be of value for car shoppers in colder climates.

EDMUNDS SAYS: The 2019 Toyota Corolla and 2019 Mazda 3 hatchbacks both offer strong value and practicality. You might like the Corolla more if you're looking for lower initial pricing. Overall, however, the Mazda edges out the competition thanks to its premium interior, fun-to-drive character and available all-wheel drive.

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This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Cameron Rogers is a reviews editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @_crogers.

Related links:

— Edmunds Video: 2019 Mazda 3: https://youtu.be/8wstAN-uxqI

— Edmunds Video: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: https://youtu.be/-yDnWxBePAE

— Edmunds Review: 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback https://edmu.in/2UjEbeY

— Edmunds Review: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback https://edmu.in/2GkffPx