2008 Toyota Matrix Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Toyota Matrix Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Toyota Matrix Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 126 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 25/31 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Toyota Matrix

  • Although it represents the sixth year of the model cycle, the 2008 Toyota Matrix is one of the most versatile compact wagons available for transporting both people and cargo. The growing field of worthy competitors is worth a look, however, and consumers should note that a redesigned Matrix is coming next year.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Comfortable ride, roomy backseat, versatile cargo area, impressive fuel economy

  • Cons

    Modest low-end power, important features like ABS and side airbags remain optional.

  • What's New for 2008

    Heading into a redesign for 2009, Toyota makes no changes to the Matrix this year.

Full 2008 Toyota Matrix Review

What's New for 2008

Heading into a redesign for 2009, Toyota makes no changes to the Matrix this year.


Although it was initially marketed as a fun, youthful five-door hatchback, the Toyota Matrix soon settled into a more practical market niche patronized by an older audience. This is a small, affordable wagon with a surprisingly comfortable and versatile interior. It's capable of carrying mountain bikes and long boards, but from the perspective of most Matrix buyers, its ability to handle convertible car seats and eight bags of groceries is the greater feat. Even though the 2008 Toyota Matrix is among the older entries in its class, it remains a safe bet for a compact wagon.

The Matrix is a hatchback/wagon version of Toyota's Corolla sedan. (A near identical version, the Vibe, is also sold by Pontiac.) Although the Matrix is 7 inches shorter than the Corolla from nose to tail, it's taller and wider. This opens up an extra 6 cubic feet of passenger volume, along with considerably more cargo space. As a result, the Matrix easily accommodates a couple of adults in the backseat. If it's cargo you're worried about, both rear seats and the front passenger seat fold completely flat to swallow items up to 8 feet in length with the rear hatch closed. For added utility, the Matrix features an easily cleaned plastic cargo floor and in-floor cargo tracks with adjustable tie-down points.

Overall, the 2008 Toyota Matrix offers a satisfying solution for people with varying needs. It's affordable, fuel-efficient, well-built, generally pleasant to drive, and above all, roomy. That said, it doesn't come close to matching the Mazda 3 or Subaru Impreza for pure driving fun, and other small wagons and hatchbacks like the Scion xB, Chevrolet HHR and Dodge Caliber have various advantages in terms of feature content. Further, consumers needing a genuine kid hauler might prefer the Kia Rondo or Mazda 5, as both offer a third-row seat. In addition to trying the competition, consumers should keep in mind that a redesigned and more powerful Matrix is due out in the first half of the 2008 calendar year.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Toyota Matrix is a front-wheel-drive compact wagon available in two trim levels: base and XR. The standard Matrix includes 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning and a CD player, but you'll need to visit the options list to get desirable features like a rear window wiper and power windows, mirrors and locks. The Matrix XR has these conveniences, along with keyless entry, a 115-volt power outlet and body-color door handles, as standard.

Cruise control, an alarm system, rear-seat heater ducts (part of the All Weather Package) and alloy wheels are optional on both trim levels. On the XR, those wheels can be either 16 or 17 inches in diameter. Other XR-only options include a moonroof and an upgraded JBL sound system with an in-dash CD changer.

Powertrains and Performance

Every Toyota Matrix is equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine generating 126 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional on both trim levels. Despite offering the least power in its class, the Matrix keeps up with most rivals. Equipped with the manual gearbox, it takes about 9 seconds to hit 60 mph. EPA fuel economy estimates for 2008 are above average at 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway for manual-transmission cars and 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway for cars with automatics.


Antilock brakes are optional on all 2008 Toyota Matrix wagons, as are front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A stability- and traction-control system is another safety option to consider, but it's offered only on cars with automatic transmissions. In frontal crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Toyota Matrix earned a perfect five stars for driver protection and four stars for the front passenger. When equipped with the optional side airbags, the Matrix received five stars for front-occupant protection and four stars for the rear. Without these airbags, it received only three stars for front-occupant protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2008 Toyota Matrix offers a pleasant interior design with a simple control layout, solid quality materials and above-average fit and finish for this segment. Taller drivers might find the wagon's propped-up driving position a bit unnatural, but the rear seat is roomy and adults should be reasonably comfortable. Those who carry cargo will find that the Matrix functions much like a small SUV. The rear hatch opens skyward and the rear glass can be raised independently to allow surfboards to hang out the back. In addition, the cargo area and rear seatbacks are trimmed in low-maintenance plastic, and a pair of in-floor cargo tracks incorporate eight adjustable tie-down hooks. For protecting valuables, a hidden storage compartment resides underneath the floor. The 60/40-split rear seats and front passenger seat can be folded flat, expanding cargo room to more than 53 cubic feet -- a solid number for the small wagon class.

Driving Impressions

Despite outward appearances or advertising hyperbole, most drivers won't find the Matrix to be an especially fun-filled ride. Acceleration is fine around town and on the highway, but the wagon's modest low-end torque is apparent on uphill grades. Still, cars with the manual transmission respond to a little more whip. Handling dynamics aren't overly impressive either, but will be acceptable if you're merely seeking an affordable and versatile grocery-getter as opposed to a serious driving machine. Those who commute or take longer road trips should find the Matrix's smooth and comfortable ride to their liking.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

So far, so good

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

Driven it for 2 weeks and it's OK so far. 1) It has adequate acceleration despite having only a 1.8L engine (no cargo/people). 2) Dashboard gauges OK except reading speed gets a little fuzzy when between 60 & 80 (only in increments of 20) so you may have to glance at it more then once (distracting) if you don't want to go over the limit. 3) Location of transmission stick is too close to climate control knobs especially when in park (no hand room) 4) Daylight running headlights (dashboard light) always on which I found annoying/confusing but getting use to. Considering getting it disabled if I go with better bulbs for night driving. 5) Noisy/feel road when driving - tolerable

Great car but too much

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

Great Car, but too much air noise. Instead of feeling like I am riding in a 19,000 car. I feel like I bought a 13,000 car. I feel like I need $6,000 in change. Other than that it is a great car.

Mighty matrix

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix XR 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

We bought our Matrix because my wife fell in love with the design. After test driving it, we were sold on the leg and headroom. It was sluggish getting onto the freeway, so i went down to the local auto parts store and got a K&N air filter and it made an extreme difference. It has immediate acceleration and getting on the freeway is not a problem whatsoever! We are getting 35 MPG and it runs like a Toyota should. I would Highly recommend the K&N Air Filter! It makes a BIG difference.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Poor ride quality

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

Bought car with 20K in june 09 now has 85K february 10 car has been reliable and good for delivery purposes, not comfortable to ride in at all would not buy another, goes through brakes more than average vehicle, think next time i will go back to honda. this car stinks in the snow so don't buy if you have to climb hills

A great upgrade from a

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix XR 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

When I purchased my Matrix I was looking for something that would be good on gas and my dog could fit in. Well I got both. I figured that the car would do well in the snow being front wheel. We had a big snow storm recently and I wasn't impressed how the car handled itself. I did not feel safe driving in the snow and ice. Other than that this car is perfect for me, my husband and dog. It will hold all kinds of things in the cargo area with the back seat still up!! I purchased the dog gate and it works great. Everyone who has seen my car or rode in it love it. They rave about it. I might however buy a 4wdrive in the near future for safety reasons only.

Took awhile, but now i

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Matrix XR 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

I was a died-in-the-wool Honda guy, driving my second Accord (an '89) into the ground, so I really pictured myself in a Fit. But the black- interior only, no-sunroof, constraints knocked them out. I got busted for DUI the third night I had it, and it cast a real pall over that wonderful "new car" feeling. (I'm not a bad guy... it's a long story). Anyway - LOVE it now. They finally fixed a minor rumble/rattle from the back that I lived with the first year, and it looks like new and suits me to a T. I bought it specifically for hauling things with the seats down, and it's great - the cargo nets help a lot.

Talk About The 2008 Matrix

2008 Toyota Matrix Discussions See all Started By

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Gas Mileage


  • 25
  • cty
  • 31
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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