Old but trusty.
The Matrix, like the Corolla on which it’s based, is getting on in years. Round air-conditioning vents serve as a reminder that the Matrix was in fact developed back when Pontiac was a going concern and sold the nearly identical Vibe. More important, its fuel economy falls behind that of other compact hatches like the Subaru Impreza, which has standard (versus the Matrix’s optional) all-wheel drive. Still, the Matrix has some basic virtues. The view inside is inoffensive, with the sort of well-thought-out ergonomics we’ve come to expect from Toyota. The cabin betrays its age (the Matrix was last redesigned for 2009) in the quality of its plastics, but Toyota has updated it this year with standard iPod connectivity and an optional color display. Toyota markets the Matrix as a somewhat sporty, youthful vehicle and offers a selection of Toyota Racing Development performance parts — including a limited-slip differential and performance brake pads — to increase the excitement. In truth, the Matrix’s low base price and reputation for dependability are what make it a safe bet for a young person’s first vehicle. Just take a look at the Impreza (or the related Subaru XV Crosstrek) before you make a decision.
new for 2013
A new stereo with iPod connectivity is standard for 2013.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
Good fuel efficiency for a utility vehicle
Boring to drive
Base Price Range: $20,070–$23,210
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: Matrix, S, S-AWD
BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 1.8L I-4, 132 hp, 128 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 158 hp, 162 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 4- or 5-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 94.0 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 19.8/61.5 cu ft