By KBB.com Editors
Once considered revolutionary, the Toyota Matrix is now joined by a fleet of competitors attempting to copy the little wagon's combination of versatility and sporty good looks. Copy-cats may better be able to compete now that Toyota has discontinued the Matrix's high-output 16-valve engine and optional all-wheel drive. Then again, few rivals can match the Matrix's outstanding quality and customer satisfaction ratings, not to mention its terrific resale value. Holding strong appeal with teenagers bent on customizing every inch of their cars, the Matrix's radical exterior is complimented by its highly versatile interior, which includes eye-catching glowing red gauges, a hard plastic cargo floor and a 115-volt outlet.
If you're on an economy-car budget, but you want something sporty and versatile, the Matrix deserves a good long look.
The four-cylinder engine has to rev high to make the most of its power, and some buyers might not be comfortable with that. With the loss of all-wheel drive, the Matrix has little advantage over newer, more powerful five-door models such as the Mazda Mazda3 and Volkswagen Rabbit.
The sporty XRS trim has been discontinued, as has the all-wheel-drive option.
Driving Impressions The competent 1.8-liter engine can move the Matrix with ease, though you will have to keep the revs high in the rpm band to get the most of the engine's...power. The standard five-speed manual transmission is the most helpful for this task, though you can opt for the four-speed automatic if you're not enamored with rowing your own gears.
The 115-volt outlet on the XR's dash should be standard in every car.
JBL Audio w/ Kicker Sub Woofer
If you like your music loud and your bass thumping, this system is sure to please.
Look inside the Matrix and you'll find a detailed interior that blends black cloth, chrome trim rings and brushed aluminum into pure automotive art. Gauges are housed in four deeply-recessed binnacles that are constantly backlit in a deep red glow. You'll find the Matrix's seating to be firm and comfortable, with a height-adjustable driver's seat on the XR trim. The roomy rear seat sits up high, affording passengers more legroom as well as a good view forward. When not loaded with passengers, the Matrix's seats can be folded flat to create a rather roomy 53 cubic feet of cargo area. Laptop junkies will love the two-prong 115-volt outlet standard on the XR.Exterior
The Matrix is based on the Corolla platform and shares its chassis and powertrain with the Pontiac Vibe. The Matrix is a bit more futuristic in appearance than the Vibe, with flared ground effects panels, sweptback headlamps and a narrow rear window. The sweeping rear beltline makes for narrow rear side windows that can hinder a driver's ability to see small objects that may be close to the rear wheels. The large hatchback makes it easy to load the cargo hold and, on the XR trim level, includes a rear wiper/washer. A number of aftermarket parts, both from Toyota and external suppliers, make it easy to customize the Matrix without having to spend a small fortune.
The Matrix includes a 126-horsepower engine, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, rear defroster, front and rear cup holders, illuminated entry, dual remote control mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, tilt wheel, tachometer, cargo cover and full wheel covers. The XR adds power mirrors, 115-volt outlet, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry and a rear wiper/washer.
Options include cruise control, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), front side-impact airbags, power glass moonroof, four-speed automatic transmission, auto-dimming rearview mirror, alarm, rear wiper/washer, anti-lock brakes (ABS), JBL audio and a number of dealer installed security and protection packages.
The high-reving four-cylinder is peppy and fuel-efficientexactly what most buyers are looking for. Although not big on torque, the 1.8-liter can move the Matrix with ease, so long as the car is not loaded with passengers or climbing steep hills.
1.8-liter in-line 4
126 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
122 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/36 (manual), 29/34 (automatic)
By n h (WI) on Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 135,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"fun to drive, but could use a bit more legroom for driver. all in all very economical !! more room in rear than it seems, holds a lot of groceries,and luggage. drove 4 people to florida and back very well !!!"
By txdiva (TX) on Friday, November 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,980overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "never had out of service issue"
Cons: "shocks nn replacement after only 3 years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought base model standard back in 2004. I was tired of used cars reliability issues and wanted a fairly inexpensive new new car. I at first looking at PT cruiser, but after sitting in it and not liking the huge blind spot I decided on the matrix. With nearly 100k miles on my Matrix was best $16k I've ever spent. Yes only $16k. But not no bells or whistles except cruise control, AC(must in TX). For the most part only basic maintenance & tires. Only real work needed was AC condenser, shocks, brakes."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Terry (SC) on Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great to drive, good gas mileage"
Cons: "Can't think of any cons"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car used with 12,000 miles on it in 2008 for a bargain price. I love the size, handling, and great gas mileage. Never a single thing wrong with the engine in 5 years except lost a couple of hub caps. I closely follow manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance, oil changes and have those done by my Toyota dealer. Keep it washed inside and outside regularly. Has all the basics nothing fancy. If you want an all around car good on the interstate or in town, this is it. I'm not sure they are making them like this one any more but it is a winner."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Katrina (SC) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Not too expensive, good car overall, fuel economy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had my Matrix since 2005, bought it preowned. I've had no major problems with it (except once a tree fell on it! and even after the repairs, runs well). It's a bit on the loud side- when I'm driving over 40mph, it's hard to hear the radio. The only thing I don't like much about this car is that the rear windows are a bit tricky to see out of. But as long as you check everywhere before switching lanes, you'll be fine. Overview; It's an adorable+great car that still runs well after 8 years."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By bob (NC) on Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"My Matrix gets 30+ mpg and is comfortable and easy to park. With the back seats down it can fit quite a lot in it. However there are 3 things I don't like. 1. The side windows in the back of the car are narrow and this makes vision difficult when changing lanes. Several times I have had someone unexpectedly appear on my right side. 2. I thought that I would not mind the stick shift. Well it is a pain and most people can't drive it so I can't ask my daughter to take my car to get something or have it cleaned etc. 3. The rear area can fit quite a lot but not a piece of furniture or appliance which was possible with my previous Honda Odyssey. Yes I know this is a different car but I am putting this down in case someone reads this and had the same pre-purchase ideas that I had and will be disappointed."
2 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By scout (MA) on Thursday, September 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 103,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "good value, handling, reliability"
Cons: "not great paint"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"bought this car (a 2007) with 62,000 mi in 2010, and now have close to 104,000 mi. in 2013 and have had virtually no problems with it! needs snow tires in winter- but with them does great in new england's winters. slow to pick up speed getting onto highway, but once there maintains a fairly high speed with good handling. i'm a spirited driver and like the feel of this car. it's reliability, and cargo space make it a great "do all" vehicle. I'd recommend it to friends."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful