By KBB.com Editors
The 2010 Toyota Matrix offers a sporty, practical and reasonably priced alternative to either mundane sub-compact cars or bulky crossover SUVs. Released last year as an all-new model, the 2010 Matrix offers more appealing styling, an optional 158-horsepower 2.4-liter engine, crisp steering feel and precise handling. The performance-oriented XRS trim level has returned, as has optional all-wheel drive. As with the previous generation 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 new MAZDA3, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Honda Civic and the Matrix' fraternal twins, the Toyota Corolla and the soon-to-be-disappearing Pontiac Vibe, which are all built in the same Canadian factory.
Performance-oriented drivers will enjoy the 2010 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.
For 2010, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) are now standard on all trims.
Driving Impressions Each trim level of the 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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, last year's restyling did 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 original Toyota Matrix reminded some of a miniature minivan or station wagon, which turned off a number of potential buyers. The latest iteration is slightly longer and wider, and Toyota stylists have eliminated the third side window. This styling change significantly expands the C-pillar and wraps the back glass around the sides, delivering 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 2010 Toyota Matrix comes in three trim levels: Base, S and the sporty XRS. All have four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction and stability control 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.
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, although unfortunately you cannot get both together. 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 2010 Toyota Matrix is a 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 (5-speed automatic), 20/26 (4-speed automatic, AWD)
By James (NY) on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable. Economical. Versatile."
Cons: "Miss cruise control a little."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I really like this car. I use it to comute, pull my boat, pick up stuff (and I mean stuff) at Home Depot/Lowes (use it like my little truck). Performance-wise, I was never disappointed. Handling/power met my needs (with basic package). It's a shame Toyota discontinued it."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tony on Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great car, reliable, fun to drive even"
Cons: "Road Noise, awkward driver seating"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is by far one of the best cars I ever driven specially with the 2.4 liter engine. with 60k miles and this car gets better as time pass by, I only feed premium gas and the car works excellent on highway. the extra gear makes a lot of difference on gas millage mechanically is a perfect combination and like I said with 60k and this car has never been in the shop. except for tires I use synthetic oil and a K&N filter, no intake modifications But like always there is no perfect car and there is no one size fits all kind of deal, if you know what I mean. the interior is kind of cheesy, although well designed the driver's side seat is awkward for long trip the arm rest on the door was too low for me the lever on the side keeps lowering the seat every time inadvertently press it. over all I gave it a 10 because is good performance and the aerodynamics of the car great, although does not help with the noise on the road. This car is a love it or hate it. I love it for my life style."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Lumen (MA) on Saturday, January 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks modern. Easy access. Good MPG & Cargo space."
Cons: "Noisy. Poor vision. Slow Acceleration."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"NEGATIVES- Underpowered. Poor Vision forward and especially towards rear. Handling is just fair. It has way too much road and wind noise, ordinary conversations are difficult at highway speeds. When stopped, wind whistles through gaps in rear hatches gaskets, (haunting sound.) Rear wheel disc brakes are extremely costly to replace. No cargo cover, we have to use a blanket to try to hide purchases. NO SPIN-ON OIL FILTER, (HAS INFERIOR CARTRIDGE, VERY POOR DESIGN, LONG ABANDONED BY CAR MAKERS YEARS AGO!) POSITIVES- Very easy to get in and out of. Lots of cargo space. Steering and brakes have pleasant feel. Looks like a modern SUV. Headlamps do a nice job. Front seats are comfortable, read, satasfactory. Good MPG."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By RJ (MA) on Saturday, January 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drives well, plenty of power."
Cons: "Low gas mileage. Noisy. Small problems."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Bought this car thinking it would get good mileage as our 08. The 2.4 though does not even come close. A warning if this is a reason to buy. The car has plenty of power though and runs well. Plenty of room in the back. I have had the radio problem other people have talked about as it goes blank when over heated. Also have the dash board rattle and am unable to find it. The low profile tires are ok but do not protect the rims from curbs if you bump them and make alot of noise. Only one recall so far on the window switches. Over all no major problems and is a good basic car. As I said I would take this car for a long test drive before buying and would not get the 2.4 if you want good mileage for that size car."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Expelliarmus08 (TX) on Wednesday, August 01, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas milage, no bad blind spots, AUX port"
Cons: "The issue with the delayed start up"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first car I bought for myself and have been completely happy with it! The gas milage is great and the interior is spacious and flows well. I was surprise how spacious the back seat is. I am 5'9 and have plenty of room in any seat I sit in. My friend is 6'1 and can sit comfortably in the back seat. The only issue I have had with this car is a delayed start up. I have taken it to Toyota and they can't figure out the problem. Of course my car starts up right away when they try. Figures! But they haven't charged me for bringing it in and looking at it and have paid for a tow I needed once when something went wrong. I can't tell you exactly what it was because I'm not good with cars."
10 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Ronnie (MI) on Thursday, July 12, 2012
I owned and sold this car
Reason: trade in - My approximate mileage is 77,000
Pros: "roomy, comfortable seats, leg and head room."
Cons: "loud acceleration road noise bumpy ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Owned this car for 4 1/2 years. The first winter I regretted I bought it. Worst car ever in the snow and rain. Motor loud when excelerating, road noise, rough ride, cheap interior,"
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful