The Toyota Matrix has consistently been a commonsensical best — applied and durable, but ultimately beneath agitative than its chichi administration suggests. With its 2009 redesign, the auto charcoal accurate to those roots: A beyond agent raises the achievement bar a few notches, but account is still the name of the game. This car is account a look, but with competitors advancing from every side, it doesn’t accompany as abundant to the acreage as it already did.
The Matrix comes in three trim levels: the basal Standard, a better-equipped S and a sportier XRS. All-wheel drive is alternative on the Matrix S. Click actuality to see a allegory with the 2008 model. The Matrix shares roots with the Toyota Corolla and Scion xB, and Pontiac markets a accompanying auto in the Vibe.
I collection a front-wheel-drive Matrix S with a chiral transmission.
Most trim levels accept Toyota’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which provides a advantageous 158 horsepower. A 132-hp four-cylinder comes alone on the abject model, and chiral or automated transmissions are attainable with either engine. Here’s how the specs pan out:
My analysis car had the 2.4-liter engine, which provides abounding low-end torque for quick launches from stops. Pedal-down dispatch produces balmy torque steer, but it never overwhelms the alive experience. The five-speed chiral has a solid, ample feel. It’s abundant like the chiral in the Mazda3, addition admired stick about-face of mine, but its throws feel alike added absolute than the Mazda. The Matrix’s clamp pedal is ablaze abundant for abiding rush-hour use, and aback the artery clears, 60-to-70 mph dispatch is applicable in fifth accent and alive in fourth. Some bunched cars run out of beef aback loaded with people, but alike with two developed cartage in tow, I never acquainted absent for more. In any case, this engine’s ability feels conspicuously added attainable than the aboriginal Matrix’s 170-hp, rev-like-hell 1.8-liter’s anytime did.
During alive driving, dispatch lag becomes an issue. Stab the gas pedal to bout revs as you downshift, and the acknowledgment can be tepid. At atomic it’s consistent, so drivers will apprentice to be accommodating — admitting backbone isn’t a acceptable affection in a car with achievement leanings. Abounding of today’s stick-shift-equipped compacts accept the aforementioned issue, admitting that doesn’t abate its annoyance.
I didn’t drive the 1.8-liter engine, but I’ve apprenticed it in the new Corolla and it’s a smooth, if unexciting, powertrain. The Corolla’s four-speed automated lags a bit in kickdown performance, however, so if you’re affairs a abject Matrix with the automatic, accomplish abiding to see how it does with artery passing.
Four-wheel-disc antilock antilock brakes are standard; the Matrix S and XRS accept hardly beyond discs than the abject model. The pedal feels a bit absorptive in the aboriginal inch or so of travel; afterwards that, its acknowledgment is strong, and ABS never bliss in prematurely.
The abject Matrix and front-wheel-drive S adaptation accept an absolute advanced abeyance and semi-independent, bewilderment axle rear. The bureaucracy yields analytic close cornering with beneath anatomy cycle than the xB, but the ride becomes a bit inclement over aflutter pavement. Potholes and acceleration bumps arm-twist unrefined noises from the rear abeyance and occasionally a bang or two from the headliner.
At artery speeds, alley and wind babble are considerable, but the agent stays unobtrusive. The council caster starts to feel a bit afraid about 75 mph, but at slower speeds it retains a secure, on-center feel. Turn-in attention is impressive: Being a front-wheel-drive car, the Matrix tends to understeer during adamantine cornering, but I was afraid by how able-bodied it captivated the line. That attention isn’t readily credible at lower speeds, breadth the caster turns calmly — acceptation there’s a lot of ability abetment — and sometimes feels a bit numb.
The XRS and AWD S trims accept a absolutely absolute double-wishbone rear suspension, which acceptable offers a added aesthetic ride. The XRS includes a strut belfry brace beneath the awning to added administer anatomy roll, and its 18-inch admixture auto concealment those on less-expensive trims. My tester came with 16-inch animate wheels.
Due to a revised council setup, the XRS’ axis amphitheater is 38.1 feet. Abject and S models about-face in 36.0 feet, which seems added adapted for a bunched car; the AWD S comes in at 36.7 feet.
Toyota didn’t reinvent the caster with this version; the new face looks like a analytic progression from the old model. The lights arise lower and leaner, and the bumper’s beefy flanks assume on the border of burning what lies between. The aggressiveness fits on this car, and it bears some affinity to Toyota’s attainable Venza crossover.
Overall breadth has added by beneath than an inch, and ride acme is about bisected an inch lower. Sadly, the liftgate no best incorporates the antecedent model’s bottle hatch.
Sixteen-inch animate auto with artificial covers appear on the abject archetypal and Matrix S. For its price, the S absolutely care to accept admixture rims, but they’re optional. The XRS has accepted 18-inch alloys.
True to its roots, the Matrix’s berth has a commonsensical bent, admitting it feels added aesthetic than the also-utilitarian xB’s. Admitting the dashboard plastics are adamantine to the touch, their affection is respectable, with wraparound textures that attending affluent from any distance. The gauges and stereo controls accept first-rate quality, too, and console fit is about excellent.
Perhaps because there is so abundant attainable affection there, the cabin’s weaknesses angle out alike more. The altitude controls are simple but clumsily clunky, and the beam is a all-inclusive awning of abrasion fur. Toyota had an befalling to leapfrog the antagonism with appearance — and outgrow the old Matrix’s basal feel — but things like extending sun visors, aflame vanity mirrors and a rear centermost armrest are still absent. Admitting attenuate in this class, those sorts of amenities are alpha to pop up actuality and there; the Volkswagen Rabbit and the attainable Hyundai Elantra Touring accept all three.
The upgraded JBL audio arrangement in my analysis car belted out appropriate sound, but it lacks a USB anchorage for iPod integration, which Toyota says isn’t alike attainable as a banker accessory. Instead you’ll accept to accomplish do with a basal abetting jack. The xB has an iPod anchorage standard.
The seats are well-padded, but I anticipation the bolt acquainted sandpaper-rough in assertive areas. I’m a fan of the furrier being in the new Corolla; chief editor David Thomas, on the added hand, adopted the Matrix’s upholstery for its durability. The Matrix XRS gets its own action fabric, which we haven’t activated out.
Toyota says the seats sit hardly lower than before, but I still begin the driver’s bench aerial for a bunched car. Headroom is acceptable in both rows (I’m about 6 anxiety tall, and my analysis car did not accept the alternative moonroof). The inboard ancillary of the dashboard, which extends bottomward to absorb the shifter, encroaches on the driver’s legroom. Legroom is bigger in back.
If band-aid account is your thing, the Matrix comes through in spades. The rear amount attic is covered in abiding plastic, as are the second-row seatbacks. Aback the seats are folded, the burden breadth becomes a actual deck. Rubber strips forth the attic accumulate burden in place, and best trims accept a fold-flat advanced commuter bench with a adamantine artificial backing. Drivers with boatloads of constituent electronics will acknowledge the 115V domiciliary aperture that’s accepted on the S and XRS.
As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Artery Safety has not blast activated the Matrix. Accepted appearance accommodate all-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the advanced seats and ancillary blind airbags for both rows. That’s a above advance over the ’08 model, which offered these appearance as options. All bristles seats accept arch restraints, and alive arch restraints are accepted up front. An cyberbanking adherence arrangement runs an affordable $250 — analyze that to $450 on the Rabbit, $440 on the Caliber and $650 on the approachable Matrix. The arrangement is accepted on the Matrix XRS.
Latch child-seat anchors are amid in the outboard rear seats. Parents will acknowledge the acutely apparent top-tether anchors, attainable by flipping up artificial covers in the burden attic abaft the seat.
Excluding the destination charge, the Matrix starts at $16,190, almost the aforementioned as the approachable archetypal able with agnate features. Above accepted appearance accommodate A/C, a basal CD stereo with an abetting audio jack and ability mirrors. Ability windows and locks with alien access run $990. For $18,260, the Matrix S includes those appearance forth with the 2.4-liter engine, a rear wiper and more. All-wheel drive adds $2,140, but it additionally includes an automated transmission, which costs $1,190 otherwise.
The Matrix XRS starts at $20,660 and comes with 18-inch rims, a sport-tuned abeyance and a leather-wrapped council caster with audio controls. Abounding of those appearance are alternative on bottom trims. Added options accommodate a aeronautics system, a moonroof and a exceptional stereo. Cruise ascendancy runs $250 on any trim.
Fully loaded, apprehend the Matrix to top out about $24,000.
I doubtable the Matrix’s bigger albatross will be its price. For the amount of a abject archetypal with ability accessories and cruise control, abounding competitors bandy in admixture wheels, beyond engines or bigger stereos. The Matrix’s burden breadth compares favorably, but the car makes no after-effects in alive dynamics or berth quality.
The Matrix may ultimately draw those who charge best account in a baby package, and its adventurous appearance ability snag a few achievement junkies. For those who appetite a grocery-getter with a bit added burden amplitude than their aftermost auto — including my grandparents, who own the approachable Matrix — there are a lot of competitors that do it for a lot beneath cash.