A welcome array of subtle cosmetic tweaks and functional equipment enhancements helps redefine the otherwise unchanged 2011 Toyota Matrix which finally broke cover in Chicago. The lineup, which has been simplified for the new season, sees the previously range-topping XRS depart, leaving the now more generously equipped Matrix and Matrix S trims to soldier on.

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Exterior changes to the base Matrix are confined to new a 16-inch steel wheel/cover combo, but the upline S nets that plus restyled front/rear fascias with integrated underbody spoilers and larger foglamp bezels. Both variants add Spruce Mica paint to their exterior palette and can be fitted with an optional Sport Package. But here, too, the S-level kit offers more goodies, including available 17-inch alloy wheels with bigger 215/45 tires in place of the standard 205/55 rubber. The Matrix S also can be further upfitted with a Premium Package that adds niceties like a power tilt/slide moonroof, an upgraded audio system with XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, USB port with iPod connectivity and a CD text display function.

While it's advantage "S" inside as well, both versions of this compact five-door hatchback crossover gain an all-weather package, upgraded interior fabrics, a tilt/telescoping steering column with sport wheel, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, 12V powerpoint, an improved standard four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio package with MP3/WMA playback, AUX input and auto sound leveling, intermittent rear wiper and more. Opting for a Matrix S raises the equipment ante with metallic trim accents, a multifunction steering wheel, six-speaker sound, keyless remote entry, fold-flat front passenger seat and a 115-volt AC power outlet.

Matrix powertrain choices carry over unchanged for 2011. The base model is fitted with a 132-horsepower/1.8-liter four that drives the front wheels via a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission while the front-drive Matrix S packs a 158-horse/2.4-liter four that can be backed with either a five-speed manual or five-speed autoshifter. The Matrix S AWD model pairs its 2.4-liter with a 4A gearbox.  The standard Toyota Star Safety System (Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist) has been upgraded for 2011 to add Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

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Pricing for the 2011 Toyota Matrix starts at $19,305, with the Matrix S opening at $20,025 and the Matrix S AWD beginning at $22,275. All variants are covered by the new-for-2011 the Toyota Care complimentary maintenance plan that provides 2-year/25,000-mile coverage of all scheduled maintenance as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.

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