Used 2003 Toyota Matrix
Edmunds' Expert Review
Sporty, versatile and affordable. The Matrix is a strong competitor in just its first year out.
All right, what is it? A wagon? An SUV? A five-door hatchback? A jellybean with attitude? Toyota claims its new Matrix is a crossover utility vehicle, or CUV. How about we just call it a "cargo-friendly small car" and leave it at that?
The Matrix is based on the new 2003 Corolla platform, as is its sister car, the Pontiac Vibe. The goal of both cars is similar to the one set by Chrysler's PT Cruiser: offer the interior functionality and flexibility usually associated with larger vehicles but in a compact package. To that end, the Matrix features room for five passengers, a wealth of storage space, zippy powertrains and an affordable price.
In terms of cargo space, the Matrix is very similar to a compact SUV. The tailgate opens upwards, and the rear glass can be raised independently. Doing so reveals a rear cargo area that can hold 21.8 cubic feet of cargo. A special cargo-floor track features eight adjustable tie-down hooks. Underneath the floor is a hidden storage compartment. The 60/40-split rear seats can be folded flat, thereby expanding cargo room to 53.2 cubic feet. The front passenger seat also folds forward, allowing items more than 8 feet long to be carried with the tailgate closed.
Three trim levels are available: standard, XR and XRS. Each comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers of the standard and XR are offered a choice of either front-wheel drive or full-time four-wheel drive. With front-wheel drive, the engine makes 130 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. It also gets good gas mileage and is clean enough to warrant an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) rating. The four-wheel-drive model has a Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) rating and makes slightly less power (123 hp). A four-speed automatic is the only transmission available with 4WD, while front-drive cars can also be ordered with a five-speed manual.
The front-drive XRS is the sportiest trim. It comes standard with a 180-hp engine, four-wheel disc brakes and a six-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is also available. Toyota isn't skimpy with the wheel packages: All Matrix models come standard with 16-inch wheels and 205/55R16 tires. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are an option, as are 17s with 215/50R17 tires (XR and XRS only). Antilock brakes are standard on the XRS and four-wheel drive models.
Most major amenities are either standard or optional, depending on trim. Highlights include air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; a power moonroof; a six-disc CD changer; and side airbags. For the directionally challenged, an optional DVD-based navigation system is available. Perhaps the coolest feature is a 115-volt household auxiliary outlet. Imagine the possibilities! Now you, too, can plug in your dancing and singing Elvis doll and have him with you at all times!
The Matrix (along with the Vibe) is an intriguing choice. Our pick for trim would likely be the XR. It's affordable, sporty and comes with just the right amount of useful features. Should you desire more, nearly everything can be had on the XR. Regardless of trim, the Matrix should be on your list if you're looking for a sporty wagon, err, hatchback. SUV. CUV. Whatever.
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As a journalist, it's a constant struggle to avoid writing hackneyed tripe. So imagine the difficulty in trying to craft a story about Toyota's new Matrix without ever mentioning the movie The Matrix, making snide comments about Keanu Reeves' acting ability or typing in "Unfortunately, nobody can be told what the Matrix is." Without these, how is one supposed to come up with an interesting lead?
Fortunately, I'm blessed with such exquisite writing skills that I'm able to avoid such things.
So what is the Matrix? Toyota's early TV spots have hyped the fact that the car is so new and different that it's indescribable. However, we have to point out that Toyota built something like the Matrix before. Those of you old enough to remember Spuds MacKenzie, Budweiser beer shill, might remember that Toyota offered a Corolla wagon in the late '80s and early '90s. The Matrix is kinda like that, but way better and, for most people's tastes, not nearly as ugly.
Tagged as a 2003 but going on sale in the spring of 2002, Toyota designed the compact Matrix to have the style and performance of a sports car and the functionality of an SUV. Underneath, much of its hardware comes from the new 2003 Corolla platform (the same goes for the Matrix's sister car, the Pontiac Vibe). It joins a growing list of sporty and affordable five-door hatchbacks/wagons, including the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Focus ZX5, Mazda Protegé5, Suzuki Aerio and Subaru Impreza Outback Sport. Is there anything that separates the Toyota from the pack? Let's find out, shall we?
There are three trim levels: standard, XR and XRS. Within these, a variety of drivetrains are available. Standard and XR trim cars come with the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine found in the Corolla. Equipped with Toyota's VVT-i variable valve timing system, this refined engine makes 130 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. It drives the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 30/35 mpg for the manual transmission and 28/33 mpg for the automatic. This engine is also clean enough that the car earns ultra-low emissions vehicle (ULEV) status.
So far, this is pretty common stuff for Toyota. The "functionality of an SUV" part comes from the Matrix's available four-wheel-drive system. Offered on standard and XR trim, this system is different from the all-wheel-drive systems on the RAV4 and Highlander. Instead of having a center differential that constantly applies a 50/50 split of power to the front and rear wheels, the Matrix has a viscous coupling at the tail end of the driveshaft. During normal driving conditions, the Matrix applies power to the front wheels only. This is done to improve fuel efficiency. In the event of slippage at one of the front wheels, the viscous coupling in the rear differential quickly reapportions up to 50 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels. All of this happens automatically and is virtually imperceptible to the driver.
Still, as 4WD vehicles go, the Matrix is definitely light-duty. Snow-covered roads should be fine, but don't plan on doing any off-roading in it. And don't think having 4WD will improve acceleration, either. The 4WD comes with a four-speed automatic transmission only, and, due to different exhaust routing, power drops to 123 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque. Add in 187 pounds of additional curb weight (compared to a front-drive XR automatic), and you've got one pudgy Matrix.
To get your speed on, you'll want the Matrix XRS. This, too, comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, but it happens to be the Yamaha-built "2ZZ" engine from the Celica GT-S. Equipped with the more advanced VVTL-i system that adjusts both valve timing and valve lift, this engine creates 180 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. Like Allen Iverson in the paint, this is a frantic and peaky unit, with maximum horsepower and torque being developed well past 6,000 rpm. It comes with either an exclusive six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. This automatic (as well as the one used with the 4WD system) is a newer design than the standard auto, as it has reduced internal friction for improved fuel economy, quicker shifting ability and a hill-detection feature for reduced shifts in and out of overdrive while on hills. Fuel economy for the XRS is 22/29 mpg with the manual and 21/27 for the automatic.
The Matrix (and Vibe GT) is currently ichi-ban of the class for horsepower. But this isn't its only attraction. It is a hatchback, after all, and utility is a major attribute. The liftgate opens upwards, and the rear glass can be popped open independently. Doing either reveals a rear cargo area that can hold 21.8 cubic feet of cargo. Toyota has forsaken carpet and instead gone with hard plastic. This should make the aftereffects of transporting dirty or wet cargo much easier to deal with. Additionally, the cargo floor features two parallel tracks for adjustable tie-down hooks. Underneath the floor is a small storage compartment. The 60/40-split rear seat can be folded flat in one motion without having to remove the headrests, thereby expanding cargo room to 53.2 cubic feet. Assuming no one is sitting in the front passenger seat, it, too, can be folded nearly flat. Surf's up, bro; put that Eaton board inside and close the hatch!
Up front, the Matrix has a modern-looking cockpit that is considerably different than the Corolla's. Circles and metallic-looking highlights are the themes here. The gauge cluster consists of four individual chrome-ringed pods, each continually given a red illumination similar to that in Lexus vehicles. To the right are the audio and climate controls. Below them is the transmission shifter. Yep, that's right; the shifter is mounted "rally-style" on the dash. It might seem strange at first, but the location quickly becomes natural, and it frees up additional storage space between the front seats.
Also on the dash is a 115-volt 100W power outlet. It's standard on XR and XRS and optional on base models. It accepts household-style plugs, allowing owners to plug in a variety of items. Heavy-draw appliances are off the list, but things like laptops, shavers and small air compressors are fine. You could also hook up a portable DVD movie player and watch, well, you know.
Think that's neat? Check out the optional navigation system. If you're directionally challenged and can't refold maps, this is definitely for you. The system is DVD-based, meaning that it covers the 48 states as well as four major metro areas of Canada on one disc. The system is operated by a small joystick, making it harder to enter information than if it were a touchscreen, but the price ($1,750) is lower than touchscreen Lexus systems. It also includes a six-disc music CD player located underneath the front passenger seat.
Base-level cars have items like air conditioning with a pollen filter, a CD player and cargo nets as standard, but most of the worthwhile features are optional. Go with the XR or XRS and get standard power locks, windows and mirrors; keyless entry; intermittent wipers; a rear wiper; a sport steering wheel; and a seat-height adjuster. Main options include 16- or 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels (17s for XRS only), an all-weather package, a power moonroof and two different premium sound systems. ABS is standard on XRS and 4WD vehicles and optional on remaining front-drive cars.
Additional safety comes from optional side airbags, three-point seatbelts with automatic/emergency locking retractors (ALR/ELR) for all outboard passengers. The driver's belt also features an ELR.
Though our seat time so far in this car has been very limited, the Matrix seems to put on a good show. Its cargo hold truly is useful, and there are nice features and touches. Though adding options can push the price of an XRS to more than $20,000, the pricing is competitive with other vehicles considering the content provided. But don't rely solely on us. As Morpheus said, "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
Used 2003 Toyota Matrix Overview
The Used 2003 Toyota Matrix is offered in the following submodels: Matrix Wagon. Available styles include XR Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), XRS Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), XRS Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 6M), XR Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M), XR AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M), and AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A).
What's a good price on a Used 2003 Toyota Matrix?
Price comparisons for Used 2003 Toyota Matrix trim styles:
- The Used 2003 Toyota Matrix XR is priced between $4,999 and$4,999 with odometer readings between 159137 and159137 miles.
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Which used 2003 Toyota Matrixes are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Toyota Matrix for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2003 Matrixes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,999 and mileage as low as 159137 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Toyota Matrix.
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Find a used Toyota Matrix for sale - 4 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $11,056.
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Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Matrix for sale - 2 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $25,454.
Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 2 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $21,424.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Toyota Matrix?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.