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2013 Toyota Matrix

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2013 Toyota Matrix Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 5.5

In the 2013 Matrix, Toyota has created a compact wagon that is part economy car, part mini- SUV and part go-kart. The Matrix's tall seating position and available all-wheel drive (AWD) appeal to those who might gravitate toward a small SUV, but can't afford the cost or the fuel. Plus, the Matrix's sporting suspension and low-to-the-ground profile give it a spunky, athletic feel you won't find in many wagons or SUVs. But, the Matrix's age is taking its toll, namely in the noticeable absence of cutting-edge infotainment and audio features. Newer models from Kia, Hyundai, Nissan and Ford are similarly priced and offer far more in the way of power, features and fuel economy.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a sporty ride with a strong reputation for quality and reliability, the 2013 Toyota Matrix has a proven history. Available AWD is something you won't find on a Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra or Nissan Versa.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your taste in hatchbacks runs toward the fast and furious, you'll be better off in something like a Nissan Juke, Mazda Mazda3 or VW Golf. The Matrix's lack of sophisticated audio and infotainment systems won't sit well with younger buyers.

What's New for 2013

For 2013, the Toyota Matrix L gains cruise control while the S trim gets a new Display Audio system with a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth and USB/iPod interface.

Driving the Matrix
Driving Impressions

The 2013 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 AWD 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.

DISPLAY AUDIO
With its 6.1-inch touch screen, the new Display Audio provides clear and easy-to-operate functions for the radio, iPod and satellite radio. It also features Bluetooth streaming audio.

GENEROUS REAR CARGO SPACE
Fold down the rear seats of the 2013 Toyota Matrix hatchback, and the flat cargo floor can hold a bunch of camping gear, back-to-college supplies or boxes and books for moving day.

2013 Toyota Matrix Details
Interior

On the utility side, the 2013 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. 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.

Exterior

While the EPA may consider the 2013 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 sweptback 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 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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2013 Toyota Matrix comes in two trim levels: Matrix and Matrix S. Both have Toyota's very comprehensive Star Safety System that includes Toyota's Smart Stop Technology that cuts engine power if the driver simultaneously presses both the accelerator and brake pedals. All models include power windows, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors, cruise control 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, fog lights, silver interior trim, 6.1-inch Display Audio with six speakers and remote keyless entry.

Optional Equipment

The 2013 Toyota Matrix L hatchback can be equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission and the Sport package, which adds 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). A power sunroof is also available on the S.

Under the Hood

Standard on the 2013 Toyota Matrix L 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. AWD is available only on the S and only with the automatic transmission. The 2.4-liter engine employs variable timing on both exhaust and intake valves to optimize responsive acceleration and good fuel economy.

1.8-liter inline-4
132 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
128 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/32 mpg (manual), 26/32 mpg (automatic)

2.4-liter inline-4
158 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (manual), 21/29 mpg (5-speed automatic), 20/26 mpg (4-speed automatic, AWD)

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