By KBB.com Editors
The 2011 Toyota Matrix is a clever alternative to conventional compact cars. Its roomy wagon design, tall seating position, and available all-wheel drive makes it competitive with compact SUVs. However, it's the Matrix's sporty driving attitude and good fuel economy that separates it from the little SUVs. The Toyota Matrix also is a strong alternative to the Kia Soul, Mazda Mazda3 hatchback, and Nissan Versa. While the Matrix isn't as trendy as its similarly sized Scion cousins, it is every bit as reliable – and also retains above-average resale value.
Some think they have to sacrifice driving fun and sporty good looks to get an affordable and fuel-efficient car. The 2011 Toyota Matrix happily proves them wrong.
The 2011 Toyota Matrix is not big on power or ground clearance, so if you need a vehicle that can carry heavy loads or venture off-road, you might be happier in a compact SUV.
Changes to the 2011 Toyota Matrix include new wheel designs, a revised interior, the addition of Toyota's Smart Stop technology, and a significant increase in equipment on the base model. The XRS trim has been dropped.
Driving Impressions The 2011 Toyota Matrix and Matrix S share a common suspension that delivers responsive handling and a relatively comfortable ride. An electric-assisted power steering unit replaces the traditional belt-driven hydraulic...setup, helping the engine to conserve power and save fuel. When it comes to performance, however, the two trims could not be more different. The base car's 132-horsepower engine provides adequate power, but the Matrix S's 158-horsepower engine is notably better for merging onto fast-moving freeways, while also providing stout off-the-line acceleration. Unless you regularly encounter snowy roads, the all-wheel-drive option is not worth the cost and extra weight.
115-Volt AC Outlet
This clever feature allows you to power most devices that need household-style alternating current.
Generous Rear Cargo Space
Fold down the rear seats of the 2011 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.
Sporty and practical rarely go together, but the two find a home in the 2011 Toyota Matrix. A flat-folding front passenger seat on the up-level Matrix S helps maximize the Matrix's cargo hauling ability. When the vehicle is parked, the forward-folding front passenger seatback can be used as, among other things, a desk for a computer. Front and rear legroom is about average for this class, but the Matrix's front seats sit up higher than most compact cars, giving occupants a good view of the road ahead. When not hauling people or pets, the Matrix's split-folding rear seats can be lowered to form a solid, level loading floor. The Toyota Matrix S also features a 115-volt outlet that allows devices that use household current (such as a computer) to be powered without the need for an AC converter.Exterior
Although it's classified as a small wagon, the 2011 Toyota Matrix doesn't look boring or utilitarian. Its sharply angled front end, swept up beltline and blacked-out, wrap-around D-pillar glass blend together to form one of the most sporty and youthful models in Toyota's lineup. The up-level Matrix S trim enhances the vehicle's good looks with an underbody front spoiler, a rear roof spoiler, a blacked-out rear diffuser, and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. All Matrix models include color-keyed, heated side mirrors, a rear-window wiper, and daytime running lights.
The 2011 Toyota Matrix comes in two trim levels: Matrix and the Matrix S. Both have four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, and front, front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags. Toyota's Smart Stop Technology cuts engine power if the driver simultaneously presses both the accelerator and brake pedals. The base Matrix has a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, and returns 32 miles per gallon on the highway, while the 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder in the Matrix S 29 miles per gallon on the highway. All models include power windows, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The standard auto system is an AM/FM/CD unit that features four speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, and an auxiliary audio input jack. The Matrix S comes with 17-inch wheels, front fog lamps, silver interior trim, a 115-volt AC outlet, remote keyless entry, and a six-speaker stereo.
The base 2011 Toyota Matrix can be equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and the Sport package, which adds front fog lights, and front and rear spoilers. The Matrix S can be had with all-wheel drive, and an enhanced Sport Package (rear roof spoiler and unique 17-inch alloy wheels). Also available is the Premium Package, which includes Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Bluetooth streaming audio, a power sunroof, iPod and USB connector, and satellite radio.
Standard on the 2011 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 Matrix S has 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.
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), 25/32 (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 Briteredlips on Friday, November 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great looking car; comfortable driving"
Cons: "Some visibility issues; noisy driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I really love this car!! Traded in a van for this Matrix. Now that I am used to the change in size of vehicle, I love the control of this car. Kind of noisy to drive, but I really feel good driving it."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Charlie on Thursday, October 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Stylish, good MPG, low maintenance costs."
Cons: "Noisy, harsh riding and poor visibility."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Exotic styling. However, this causes difficult blind spots on either side of front windshield and to rear view. Ride is harsh, you will feel every road defect. Handling and braking are quite good. Acceleration isn't very strong, but capable in most traffic. Average around 28 MPG all around. Interior noise level is very high on highway, difficult to converse normally. The access and head room are great. The rear hatch and fold flat rear seats really makes this car a versatile hauler. The radio has too much bass, treble can't be turned up high enough to compensate."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By wph00 on Friday, August 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Great gas milage, handles well, not bad to look at and reasonable room. Greatest weakness is just a little cheap"
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Puffin on Thursday, July 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,752overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, but not on highway."
Cons: "Loud road noise, iPod connectivity doesn't work."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought 1 month ago prior to vacation. Loud tire noise on highway, rough ride. Despite having the upgraded 6 speaker radio, iPod connection doesn't work. Something in the back bangs when going over road bumps or highway road joints. Haven't found out what yet. Drive position is comfortable to drive for distance, but the road noise, banging in back on every bump or road joint doesn't make for a good experience. Had it in the shop twice before going on vacation to have them fix the iPod connection problem -- 3 1/2 hours of driving on trip, iPod quit. I'd tried undercoating to try to help silence the loud road noise but that didn't do much. Vacation was good despite loud bumpy road noise driving to and from. Wish I'd never bought a Matrix."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By adie on Sunday, July 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good value, fun to drive, fuel efficient"
Cons: "not enough space for car seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has given me no trouble other than required mantainance and is very fun to drive. I love the fold down seats so I can items from the home store transported with ease. Overall great car!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By CarGal99 on Saturday, June 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, braking, sporty looking, roominess, safe"
Cons: "a loose plastic panel, vanity mirror cover problem"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I like the car. I had to find a car to replace my 18 year old sports car, and I knew it would be a big adjustment to go from an 8 cylinder luxury car to something with a smaller engine and in theory, not as luxurious. I chose the correct car for the adjustment. I really tried hard not to like the car, but I really like it. It has very good "get up and go" for when you need to get onto a busy freeway or for passing someone. I like how it handles. The AWD on wet, sometimes a few inches of water covered roads plus the stability/traction control were options I'm glad this car has. Some people may not feel the amount of gas it uses justifies the option, but it does for me when it comes to safety since I'm in a very wet climate. I think it gets good gas mileage, but I had a V8 so I'm probably not the best judge of that. I'm sure there are cars that get better mileage, but for the options and features that this car has, you'd probably have to pay a lot more in a small SUV or other wagon. Now the best part, it's a small wagon! I never thought I'd be excited to own a "station wagon", but it's really nice. The seats lay all the way down flat and you can put pretty much anything back there. Even dogs and stuff you have to buy for everyday life. It has little hooks to hook grocery bags to so that your stuff doesn't go rolling everywhere (genius!) and it even has a place to tie bigger things down if you move the removable carpet/mat. I love having a 4 door again, I'd forgotten how much I like them. Only a couple of bugaboos that you'll keep hearing over and over: Road noise. Yes, it's there, sort of like how it is in most cars this style (or even in small trucks), but it doesn't bother me because my husband is always playing music so loudly, I can barely hear anything unless I'm by myself, then I notice it. But I don't find it annoying. Some people may not like it. Also, my driver side vanity mirror cover won't close. It's a little sliding piece of plastic that won't slide back. It's not something you can see unless you're driving and want to look in the vanity mirror. It's just an uncovered mirror now. And, since I bought it used, there's a piece of plastic that keeps coming loose (easily snapped back into place) between the front door/back door and the frame. Hard to describe the location, but it's right under where the seat belt joins to the car frame. I'm sure if I took the time to jiggle it into place properly or see if it needs to be screwed in or something, it's just not that big of a deal and I'm always in a hurry so if it happens to pop out, I just pop it back into place. Like I said, I bought it used, so it's probably something the former driver banged out of place and never got screwed back in. Anways, I like the car. If you are looking for value for the money, roominess without owning a larger car for your family, dogs, etc this car will be great for you. It's comfortable, the dashboard and all the features look great, it handles like a dream. The steering and braking on this car are above average. And wait til you have to park in a crowded parking lot! It's so great for tight spaces and getting in and out of crowded lots without hassle. I love having a smaller vehicle."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful