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2008 Toyota Matrix

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2008 Toyota Matrix Review

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Once considered revolutionary, the 2008 Toyota Matrix is now joined by a fleet of competitors attempting to copy the little wagon's combination of versatility and sporty good looks. Copy-cats may better be able to compete now that Toyota has simplified the model lineup, but an all-new Matrix is scheduled to debut in 2009, so no one should be resting on any laurels just yet. Despite its age, few rivals can match the Matrix's outstanding quality, customer satisfaction ratings and terrific resale value. Holding strong appeal with teenagers bent on customizing every inch of their cars, the Matrix's radical exterior is complimented by its highly versatile interior, which includes eye-catching glowing red gauges, a hard plastic cargo floor and a 115-volt outlet.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're on an economy-car budget, but you want something sporty and versatile, the 2008 Toyota Matrix deserves a good long look.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The four-cylinder engine has to rev high to make the most of its power, and some buyers might not be comfortable with that. With last year's removal of its all-wheel-drive option, the Matrix has little advantage over newer, more powerful five-door models such as the Mazda MAZDA3 and Volkswagen Rabbit.

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Matrix carries over largely unchanged.

Driving the Matrix
Driving Impressions

The competent 1.8-liter engine can move the Matrix with ease, though you will have to keep the revs high in the rpm band to get the most of the engine's...

... power. The standard five-speed manual transmission is the most helpful for this task, although the optional four-speed automatic simplifies the driving. The Matrix's precise steering feel makes it easy to get around curves with confidence and the firm suspension displays good cornering ability without a punishing ride. Interior sound levels are higher than one might expect, but not annoyingly so. Besides, we suspect most younger drivers will never hear the din over the optional JBL Audio system.

115-Volt Outlet
The 115-volt outlet on the XR's dash should be standard in every car.

JBL Audio w/ Kicker Sub Woofer
If you like your music loud and your bass thumping, this system is sure to please.

2008 Toyota Matrix Details
2008 Toyota Matrix photo Interior

Look inside the Matrix and you'll find a detailed interior that blends black cloth, chrome trim rings and brushed aluminum into pure automotive art. Gauges are housed in four deeply-recessed binnacles that are constantly backlit in a deep red glow. You'll find the Matrix's seating to be firm and comfortable, with a height-adjustable driver's seat on the XR trim. The roomy rear seat sits up high, affording passengers more legroom as well as a good view forward. When not loaded with passengers, the Matrix's seats can be folded flat to create a rather roomy 53 cubic feet of cargo area. Laptop junkies will love the two-prong 115-volt outlet standard on the XR.

Exterior

The 2008 Matrix is based on the Corolla platform and shares its chassis and powertrain with the Pontiac Vibe. The Matrix is a bit more futuristic in appearance than the Vibe, with flared ground-effects panels, sweptback headlamps and a narrow rear window. The sweeping rear beltline makes for narrow rear side windows that can hinder a driver's ability to see small objects that may be close to the rear wheels. The large hatchback makes it easy to load the cargo hold and, on the XR trim level, includes a rear wiper/washer. A number of aftermarket parts, both from Toyota and external suppliers, make it easy to customize the Matrix without having to spend a small fortune.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The Matrix includes a 126-horsepower engine, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, rear defroster, front and rear cup holders, illuminated entry, dual remote-control mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, tilt wheel, tachometer, cargo cover and full wheel covers. The XR adds power mirrors, 115-volt outlet, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry and a rear wiper/washer.

Optional Equipment

Options include cruise control, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags, power glass moonroof, four-speed automatic transmission, auto-dimming rearview mirror, alarm, rear wiper/washer, anti-lock brakes (ABS), JBL audio and a number of dealer installed security and protection packages.

Under the Hood

The high-reving four-cylinder is peppy and fuel-efficient -- exactly what most buyers are looking for. Although not big on torque, the 1.8-liter can move the Matrix with ease, so long as the car is not loaded with passengers or climbing steep hills.

1.8-liter in-line 4
126 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
122 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/33 (manual), 25/31 (automatic)

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2008 Toyota Matrix Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 558 Ratings for the 2003 - 2008 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.1/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

309K miles and still chugging

By on Sunday, February 28, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 309,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Extremely relieable, great value, good pep / mpg"

Cons: "It's not a Corvette."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"At 309,000 miles I've only had a few mechanical issues; muffler, serpentine belt, and oil pressure switch (just recently). I change oil and other required fluid religiously. I try to wash it as soon after it's taken on salt from a snowfall. Basically, I take care of it and it pays big dividends. The exterior paint looks fantastic...no rust. Due to robust steel, door dings are minimized. The interior looks more like 3-5 yrs old; not 11 years. The fabric on seats has worn extremely well. This car has always had very good pep. My daughter drives a 3 yr old Fit and my 11 yr Matrix will clobber her Fit from a dead-stop. I would highly recommend buying one of those Matrix's for sale with 100K to 150K miles as long as the owner can prove they've taken care of it."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Love, love, love my Matrix!

By on Monday, February 15, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great gas mileage, unbelievable cargo space"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car is a honey! I've been driving it since October, 2005, when it was new. It has proven dependable, even in Wisconsin's harshest winters. It handles well, is pretty comfy for what it is, and has the most amazing cargo space for a car it's size. You will not believe what will fit back there! And it gets great gas mileage. My husband scoffed when he first saw the Matrix, but he has become a believer. He is 6', and a bit hefty, yet has more than enough head and shoulder room. I can't say enough about the Matrix...it is great value for the money, well built...and is really cute, too!"

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

I have loved my Matrix

By on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 131,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "affordable, fuel efficient, utilitarian"

Cons: "Not a sporty vehicle"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have had my 2004 Matrix for over 6 years now. I have loved this car and I am disappointed that newer version of the Matrix don't quite live up to the model I own. It is about time for me to get something a little newer. I am hesitant because this Matrix has been so reliable, fuel efficient, and utilitarian for my needs."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Best car I have ever owned!

By on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 132,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love this car! Fun to drive, versatile, dependable, and such a faithful workhorse! I love the way it looks even after 14 years (bought in Feb.'02). Seldom in the shop except for a few old-car repairs. It has pulled my teardrop trailer faithfully throughout New England. With back seats almost always down, it can carry all my garden tools, groceries and camping gear. Did I say how much I've loved this car! Will push it to 15years if I can, and I'm going to hate parting with it."

10 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Love My Car

By on Saturday, November 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 92,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have owned this car since it's birth (2003). I have kept up all services and it has treated me well. I hope to have it for another 10 years."

8 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Super reliable so far

By on Thursday, October 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 141,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Reliable, handsome, + rear legroom and cargo area"

Cons: "lower mileage and greater road noise at +75mph"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

En route home from Boston and NY

"We bought this used, 3 yrs/45 K miles ago. It had blemishes typical of use on rural KS rock roads, and the dealer had just had to replace the catalytic converter. We had a full history on it because the only previous owner was a nearby city, and it never needed any non-routine maintenance until the catalytic converter at 94K miles. It had cheap tires, which we replaced last year with 85K mile Goodyear Assurances (money well spent!). Otherwise, all we have ever had to do beyond routine maintenance was replace the battery recently (it was the original battery). An original selling point for us was that this has more back seat leg room than Mazda 3s and other similar cars. There's nothing very fancy about this car but it has decent power when you want it and it and decent handling. Although this gets well over 30mpg mileage at Eastern highway speeds, it needs high RPMS for our +75mph Western highways and mileage drops into the low 20s. Also, at high speeds this car allows a great deal of road noise into the cabin, even with great tires."

21 people out of 25 found this review helpful

En route home from Boston and NY

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