By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Toyota Matrix offers a sporty, but practical and reasonably priced alternative to either mundane sub-compact cars or bulky crossover SUVs. Released as an early 2009 model, the new Matrix gets more appealing styling, an optional 158-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, crisper steering feel and more precise handling. The performance-oriented XRS trim level returns, as does optional all-wheel drive. As with the previous Matrix, there's plenty of room for four adults and the rear seats fold down to create a flat, voluminous cargo area. Main competitors for the Matrix include the MAZDA3, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Honda Civic and the Matrix' fraternal twins, the Toyota Corolla and Pontiac Vibe, which are all built in the same Canadian factory.
Performance-oriented drivers will enjoy the 2009 Toyota Matrix XRS trim level's combination of precise steering feel, sports-tuned suspension and grippy ultra-high-performance all-season tires. Rear seats in all models easily accommodate two adults, or the seats can be folded to provide a large cargo area.
The Matrix transmits a surprisingly high amount of road and tire noise into the cockpit. Two of its tire choices -- the high-performance and touring all-season tires - seemed noisier than the ultra-high-performance rubber on the XRS.
New coupe-like styling better fits the youthful, sporty appeal of the 2009 Matrix. Standard is a new 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which is up by six horsepower over the previous powerplant. Upper trim levels have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower. The XRS and the S with all-wheel drive have independent rear suspension.
Driving Impressions Each trim level of the 2009 Toyota Matrix has its own significantly different feel and performance. The base model is focused more on economy and functionality than driving excitement. The...S trim level, which will be the sales leader, has a slightly more sporty suspension and steering tuning and the 158-horsepower 2.4-liter engine; the handling is responsive and acceleration is decidedly peppy. The XRS is a serious performer with taut, sport-tuned suspension, precise steering and high-performance tires. The electric power steering system allows easy tuning for different levels of steering feel, and also helps performance and fuel economy by dismissing with the traditional engine belt drive and hydraulic pump. Unless you regularly encounter snowy conditions, the 2.4-liter engine does not produce enough power to make the all-wheel-drive option worth the cost and extra weight.
Sport-tuned suspension, excellent steering feel, grippy 18-inch tires and a 158-horsepower engine turn the 2009 Toyota Matrix XRS into a terrific little car for the enthusiast driver on a budget.
Generous Rear Cargo Space
Fold down the rear seats of the 2009 Toyota Matrix and its flat cargo floor can hold a bunch of camping gear, back-to-college supplies or boxes and books for moving day.
Despite its sporty exterior, the 2009 Matrix is an extremely practical sub-compact. The rear seats comfortably accommodate two full-sized adults. There's more than plenty of headroom both front and rear and legroom has been increased. The rear seats fold forward to create a flat cargo floor that will swallow large amounts of gear; however, the restyling cut about two cubic feet from the cargo volume. The front passenger's seat folds flat and can be employed as a computer table or to carry longer cargo. The high front seating position provides excellent visibility, and all trim levels have supportive sport seats.Exterior
The previous Toyota Matrix reminded some of a miniature minivan or station wagon, which turned off a number of potential buyers. For 2009, in addition to making it slightly longer and wider, Toyota stylists eliminated the third side window, significantly expanded the C-pillar and wrapped the back glass around the sides, thus giving it a sportier coupe-like appearance. The XRS gets even more aggressive styling, including a front underbody spoiler, a rear roof spoiler and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
The 2009 Toyota Matrix comes in three trim levels: Base, S and the sporty XRS. All have four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and front, front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags. The base model has a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, while the S and XRS have a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter version. The base and S versions have 16-inch steel wheels, the XRS has 18-inch aluminum rims and XRS and S versions have larger front and rear disc brakes. Other standard equipment includes Lexus-style Optitron gauges, an auxiliary input jack and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The S and XRS have a 115-volt AC outlet that accepts three-prong plugs.
Electronic stability control is optional on the base and S models and standard on the XRS. Available on the S and XRS trim levels are a navigation system that's more affordable to fit the Matrix market and a JBL seven-speaker audio system with a six-disc CD changer. All-wheel-drive is available, but only on the S model and only with the 2.4-liter engine and four-speed automatic. Optionally available are 16-inch aluminum wheels for the base model and 17-inchers for the S trim, fitted with either touring or high-performance all-season tires.
Standard on the 2009 Toyota Matrix is a new 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The S and XRS models have a 2.4-liter, 158-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. The 2.4-liter engine employs variable timing on both exhaust and intake valves to produce both responsive acceleration and good fuel economy. All-wheel drive is available only with the S trim level with the automatic transmission. In normal operation, the AWD system sends all the power to the front wheels, but when slip is detected the electronically-controlled center differential diverts up to 45 percent of the torque to the rear. Base and non-AWD S models have a beam rear axle, while the XRS and AWD versions have independent rear suspension.
1.8-liter in-line 4
132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 (manual), 25/31 (automatic)
2.4-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (manual), 21/29 (five-speed automatic), 20/26 (four-speed automatic, AWD)
By DC on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 178,045overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well made, fun to drive, easy to handle"
Cons: "Ruff ride at times"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been driving Toyotas for over 20years. Have had 4 4Runners and one Matrix and the Matrix was like having a miniature 4Runner.Great handling car in all weather and esp. in the snow with just front wheel drive! I will probably drive this car till the wheels fall off. Nothing compares to the size and weight this automobile has. Great reliability!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By A on Wednesday, November 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 116,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, rear folding seats, cargo space"
Cons: "wind and cabin noise, blind spots,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I like the style of this car inside and out. Looks pretty nice for a Toyota. I have had this car for 2 years and haven't had to do anything except take it in for regular oil change/maintenance. I love the amount of space you get with the rear seats folded flat. The 1.8 L is good on gas but not as good as I expected it to be. It really sucks gas in the winter. The acceleration is acceptable for the size of the car but it is no race car. Not really fun to drive but it gets you from point A to point B. I don't find the seats very comfortable especially on long trips. There is a lot of wind engine tire and cabin noise especially at freeway speeds. There are a couple of blind spots with the rear pillars but you can get around this by adjusting your rear view mirrors. The brakes seem to wear out quickly. This car has a great resale value and costs very little to maintain. Great value for the money and I'm sure it will be good for many miles to come."
14 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By blue matrix on Friday, October 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 143,888overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "small , compact, no luxury, cover material is chea"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I let it go because I got to move. I love this car. It is very fast of accelleration, can run up to 110 not problems.... very smooth and durable."
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Larry on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "no body rot, still shines good,good ride"
Cons: "gas milage could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I would just like to say that the car has proved itself reliable so far. I thank God that I have not had to put any money into having it repaired. Originally the car came with, I think a 25,000 miles maintenance plan that has expired. Under it the oil was changed every 5000 miles. I have continued doing so. The car handles pretty well for a mini wagon. I had to put new tires on at about 32,000 miles. There was no abnormal or excessive wear when they were changed. I did believe the car was handling rather poorly in the snow previously. So the tires were changed sooner than later to accommodate for this. I guess the one thing that I wish was a little bit different was the amount of luggage the car holds when there are four people in it. It will only hold about two bags. I noticed this every time I am picking people up at the airport. I really do wish this was different and have considered installing a luggage rack but I am concerned about the wear and tear on the paint on the roof. Also I have a sunroof which I love and am not sure how that would work with it. I suppose another issue is that I felt that the new-car warrantee it came with could have been better. I had to buy an extended warranty to supplement it. Had I to do it again I would have tried to negotiate a better warranty if possible and I would've liked to have the option to continue with the maintenance plan till 50 or 75,000 miles. I can't afford to buy another new cars so I must rely on maintaining this car and pray it lasts a long time. Even though under the maintenance plan I had to pay for some replacement items like air filters and windshield wipers, the oil and filter was covered but what I liked about the plan was that they checked everything that was listed in the book as needing to be checked. I am not much of a mechanic so that was very helpful for me. Since they did charge though for replacement items I kind of felt like a captive audience and really didn't understand why they only did the maintenance plan for like 25,000 miles. They were getting paid if they found anything wrong and the work was kind of guaranteed them. I kind of felt it was a win-win situation. I guess anther thing I should mention is that this was the second matrix I had owned. The first one differed A little, like the rear window could be opened independently from the whole door. I really like this option and wish they had held onto that in the new version. It was very handy if you had to move something that was long. Now if I have something long I have to leave the whole door open which is kind of a pain with road dirt, dust and exhaust all getting in. Plus nothing is secured. It really did make things a lot easier. it too was a good car. When I bought the car I was surprised to find out that it did not come with floor mats! I couldn't imagine how they would not include this. Apparently the salesman agreed and threw them in at no cost. My feeling was they should have been included with the car automatically. I find it incredible that a company would sell any car without them. After all the money they charged me for the new car how very basic are floor mats? I guess the last thing that I would mention is the gas mileage, I think combined I get maybe 25 miles to the gallon. This I thought I would have done better on but I guess not. I really don't know what they will have to do to finally give us a car that does a lot better on gas mileage than this. I don't know if any of this helps but good luck in your endeavors."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By steveo on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and reliable"
Cons: "Drivers seat doesn't go back very far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Bought this car new. It has gotten good gas milage and is very peppy. Gets thru snow well and handles good. Sport pkg is great but ride is a little rough. Carries a lot lots of room No mechanical problems."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Fairladyz on Friday, August 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, great gas mileage, comfortable, spaceous"
Cons: "hard to find replacement cup holder dividers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I personally love this car. It's served me well on road trips all up and down the east coast. It's easy with dogs and it holds a LOT more than you would expect. The only issue is it isn't the quietest car on the highway. We're 72k miles in and I would say we really haven't had any issues, knock on wood! The only thing I dislike is the color of the radio system. It's an ugly orangey yellow! Oh yeah, car is awesome on gas mileage. I average about 350-400 miles on 10-10.5 gallons of gas! Oh one more issue! My brother threw out the cup holder plastic divider piece and finding a replacement online is impossible! Don't lose it! I'm sure dealers will charge a bunch."
4 people out of 9 found this review helpful