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 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."
3 people out of 3 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 11 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