What's New for 2013
The 2013 Toyota Matrix receives new audio systems.
For a decade now, the Toyota Matrix has been a convincingly sporty, reasonably fuel-efficient four-door hatchback with the promise of Toyota reliability. The 2013 Toyota Matrix still meets most of these criteria, but newer and more efficient competitors have improved on the Matrix formula.
In its favor, this Corolla-based four-door hatchback still offers useful qualities such as a roomy interior with a fold-flat front passenger seat, a comfortable ride and an available all-wheel-drive system. For power, Toyota offers either a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine or a larger 2.4-liter engine that comes on the Matrix S model.
Unfortunately a number of newer competitors outdo the Matrix on one or more fronts. To see what we mean, have a look at similar models like the more versatile 2013 Honda Fit, the fun-to-drive 2013 Ford Focus hatchback or the more fuel-efficient 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. If all-wheel-drive capability is important to you, the Subaru Impreza hatchback will likely prove to be more appealing overall.
In short, there's nothing wrong with the 2013 Toyota Matrix, but its somewhat dated design makes it a middling choice in the competitive category of compact hatchback.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Matrix is a five-passenger wagon/hatchback available in two different trim levels.
The L base model comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and iPod/USB interface.
Moving up to the S trim level gets you foglights, upgraded cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, metallic interior trim and a premium audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface.
An L Sport option package includes front and rear spoilers and foglights. An S Sport package bundles the spoilers with 17-inch alloy wheels. A sunroof is also available as an option.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Toyota Matrix offers buyers a choice of front-wheel drive for the Matrix L or an available all-wheel-drive system for the Matrix S.
Power for the entry-level L model comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. EPA fuel economy estimates are 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with the automatic and 26/32/29 with the manual.
Under the hood of S models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Front-drive models get a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic, while all-wheel-drive versions come with a four-speed automatic. With front-wheel drive, the Matrix S returns an EPA-estimated 21/29/24 with the automatic transmission and 21/28/24 with the manual. Add all-wheel drive and those numbers drop to 20/26/22. These estimates are disappointing given the fuel economy of some larger, more powerful crossover SUVs.
The 2013 Toyota Matrix comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Matrix its highest rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Matrix's passenger cabin has a look that splits the difference between more ordinary Toyota models and the edgier interior designs of competitors like the Nissan Cube or Scion xB. This attractive design is backed up with straightforward, easy-to-use controls and decent quality materials.
Both front and rear passengers will find comfortable seating, though taller drivers may wish for a bit more legroom. When it comes time to schlepp stuff, the Matrix excels with 19.8 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 49.4 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. The standard fold-flat front passenger seat allows one to make room for surfboards and other long items.
On the road, the way that the 2013 Toyota Matrix measures up largely comes down to which engine you choose. The 1.8-liter engine delivers sluggish acceleration, a negative that is partly offset by its increased fuel economy. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder addresses that shortcoming with ample power, though naturally fuel economy suffers. Either way, the Matrix's ride and handling proves smooth and responsive.