By KBB.com Editors
The 2012 Toyota Matrix puts a twist on the compact car formula, combining a wagon-like design with a tall seating position, available all-wheel drive (AWD) - front-wheel drive is the standard setup – and a peppy yet fuel-efficient engine. Slotting between a compact hatchback and a small crossover SUV, the 2012 Matrix hatchback offers a big dose of sporty styling and outstanding ride and handling. However, due to its lack of high-tech audio and infotainment options, the Matrix may still fall short of newer hatchbacks, such as the Ford Focus and Kia Rio5. Then again, few cars have the reliability and resale value of a Toyota, and the Matrix can be expected to hold up its end of that Toyota reputation.
If you think you can't have an inexpensive, frugal and reliable car with the security of AWD, the 2012 Matrix proves otherwise.
If you're looking for a hatchback that has the power and moves to live up to its sporty styling, the 2012 Toyota Matrix hatchback isn't as promising as a VW GTI, Mazda3 or Ford Focus.
After a thorough refresh last year, the 2012 Toyota Matrix hatchback has no significant changes.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Toyota Matrix and Matrix S use the same, tightly-tuned suspension to deliver direct handling and a fairly comfortable ride. The Matrix's electric-assisted power steering isn't as precise-feeling as...a traditional hydraulic unit, but it does help the engine conserve power and improve fuel economy. The 132-horsepower engine on the base Matrix hatchback 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. We like the all-wheel-drive option for those who have to deal with snow on a regular basis but, as the system activates only when sensing wheel slippage, we think it doesn't do much to improve the car's overall handling. If you live someplace that is always sunny and warm, the AWD option probably isn't worth the extra cost or added 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 2012 Toyota Matrix hatchback and its flat cargo floor can hold a bunch of camping gear, back-to-college supplies or boxes and books for moving day.
The Toyota Matrix's interior is a combination of utility and fun. On the utility side, the 2012 Matrix S features a flat-folding front seat for increased cargo space, while both trims include built-in rubber rub strips on the cargo floor and rear seatbacks. When the vehicle is parked, the forward-folding front-passenger seatback can be used as, among other things, a desk for a computer. Although not cramped, the Matrix hatchback offers front and rear-seat legroom slightly smaller than the segment leaders, the rear seat being the biggest offender. The Matrix's front seats place their occupants up high, giving the feeling of driving a small SUV. Among the more thoughtful interior features is the Matrix S model's 115-volt outlet that allows an ordinary household device to operate without the need for a 12-volt AC converter.Exterior
While the EPA may consider the Toyota Matrix to be a small wagon, we think its racy exterior and aggressive wheels say different. This sporty hatchback features a sharply-angled nose, a swept-back beltline and black-out treatment around the rear D-pillar's wraparound glass. Every Matrix includes color-keyed, heated side mirrors, a rear-window wiper and daytime running lights, and the Matrix's design elements make it one of the more youthful Toyota offerings, even outshining some Scion products. On the 2012 Toyota Matrix S trim, the sporty attitude is taken a step further with an underbody front spoiler, blacked-out rear diffuser, 17-inch alloy wheels and a rear roof spoiler.
The 2012 Toyota Matrix comes in two trim levels: Matrix and Matrix S. Both have Toyota's very comprehensive Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (which in turn includes Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist) and Smart Stop Technology, 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 4-cylinder engine, while the Matrix S has a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. All models include power windows, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The standard audio 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 foglights, silver interior trim, a 115-volt AC outlet, remote keyless entry and a 6-speaker stereo.
The base 2012 Toyota Matrix hatchback can be equipped with a 4-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 SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Standard on the 2012 Toyota Matrix is a 1.8-liter 132-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, which is available with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The Matrix S has a 2.4-liter 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with either a 5-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission. The 2.4-liter engine employs variable timing on both exhaust and intake valves to optimize responsive acceleration and good fuel economy.
132 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
128 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/32 (manual), 26/32 (automatic)
158 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (manual), 21/29 (5-speed automatic), 20/26 (4-speed automatic, AWD)
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."
5 people out of 7 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."
5 people out of 9 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."
2 people out of 4 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."
1 person out of 1 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."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Ginny on Friday, August 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 185,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, economical, reliable, roomy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a long commute and have driven across the country once in this car. Despite all the miles I have put on it, this car has never let me down. It is reliable to the letter! I get about 33 miles a gallon on the highway so it is pretty economical with fuel also. It is also really roomy, particularly when the back seats are folded down."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful