By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/20/2011
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.You'll Like This Car If...
If you think you can't have an inexpensive, frugal and reliable car with the security of AWD, the 2012 Matrix proves otherwise.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2012
After a thorough refresh last year, the 2012 Toyota Matrix hatchback has no significant changes.Driving It 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.Favorite Features
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.