The Toyota Matrix is essentially a tall yet compact wagon, with a dash of cool, sporty style thrown in. It's typically been marketed toward younger shoppers, though buyers of all ages have been drawn to this car's many desirable attributes. Based on the Corolla sedan, the Matrix is exceptionally versatile, whether you're hauling bulky cargo or transporting adult-sized passengers.
The main downside to the Matrix is that, apart from the relatively rare XRS variant, it's never been particularly rewarding to drive. But for the practical-minded, this will likely be of little concern. Boasting high fuel economy, a smooth ride, a roomy cabin, available all-wheel drive and reliable Toyota genes, the Matrix is one of the best choices available -- new or used -- for a small wagon or hatchback.
Current Toyota Matrix
The current Toyota Matrix straddles the line between hatchback and wagon body styles, benefitting from a wide range of utility and versatility. The base L model is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional -- both drive the front wheels. Upgrading to the Matrix S gets you a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, as well as an all-wheel-drive option. Front-drive models come with a five-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic, while AWD versions only come with a four-speed automatic.
Standard feature highlights for the base L trim include air-conditioning, a fold-flat front passenger seat, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. Besides the more powerful engine, the Matrix S gains foglights, upgraded cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats and a premium audio system with a 6-inch touchscreen interface. Larger wheels, body spoilers and a sunroof account for the available Matrix options.
Inside, the Matrix has enough space to carry items up to 8 feet long, and the cargo area's durable plastic load floor allows for a variety of items, from home improvement materials to bicycles or a kayak. The Matrix also makes for a good people carrier, with comfortable front seats and roomy rear quarters.
On the road, the base Toyota Matrix feels a bit pokey in terms of acceleration, though its engine does provide pretty good fuel economy. The extra torque from the 2.4-liter engine makes the driving experience more relaxed, particularly in regards to passing. Around corners, the Matrix is balanced and predictable, and overall ride quality is very comfortable. Still, the Matrix is not a very exciting car to pilot, largely due to its low-feedback steering. On the positive side, the control layout is nearly perfect.
Read the most recent 2013 Toyota Matrix review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Toyota Matrix page.