The 2003 Toyota Matrix is a compact four-door hatchback in production from 2002 to the present, starting with the 2003 model year. These have a five-door hatchback body style and are built on either a front-engine front-drive or all-wheel drive layout. The first generation includes those sold from 2003 through 2008.
Body Styles: hatchback
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, four-speed automatic, five-speed manual, six-speed manual
Models: Toyota Matrix, Toyota Matrix XR, Toyota Matrix XRS
The 2003 Toyota Matrix debuts as a new model. Much of the build and most of the platform are based on the Toyota Corolla; it was sometimes referred to as the Toyota Corolla Matrix. For the first couple of years, it was sold as a very basic and inexpensive vehicle at the base level. There were no significant innovations or any new features introduced other than the car itself.
The 2003 Toyota Matrix has a compact four-door body slightly resembling a short wagon but with a top that tapers down to a small spoiler incorporated into the roof. The most notable features outside of the somewhat unique body style are the overly-large oval headlights slanting up the corner of the hood and side, molded into the body. The grille is small and black with the Toyota logo in the center. It has a large oval intake below, and the body sits low to the ground. The standard model has 16-inch wheels, and the upgraded models have 17-inch wheels. Alloy is optional on the base and XR models and standard on the XRS models. The XRS also has standard fog lights, front spoiler, and rear underbody spoiler. The body style was somewhat ahead of its time in 2003, and since has become popular among many car makers attempting to attract a younger demographic.
The 2003 Toyota Matrix seats five people with two front bucket seats and a rear folding bench seats. It is roomy for a compact, but the rear will be crowded with three adults. The back seats fold flat creating a maximum cargo volume of 53.2 cubic feet. There is also a cargo track leading from the hatch to the front seats when the rear is folded down. Standard features include air-conditioning, an air filter, power mirrors, and a cargo cover. The base models come with limited standard features, but there are a range of options, and upgraded models get more standard features and options. A power moonroof is optional on the XR and XRS only, speed control is optional on the base model and XR and standard on the XRS, power windows and remote keyless entry are optional on the base model and standard on upgraded models, navigation is optional on the XR and XRS only, leather shifter and leather-wrapped steering wheel are optional or standard on the XR and XRS models only.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Toyota Matrix base model and the XR get a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 130-hp. With the all-wheel drive XR and base model the same engine decreases to 123-hp. The XRX has a 180-hp, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder and comes with a front drive only. The four-wheel-drive models use viscous coupling and as much as 50 percent of power can be shifted to the rear during slippage. All models are relatively quiet while cruising, but road noise is noticeable. The smaller engine is also noisy when accelerating and can struggle while passing at higher speeds. Otherwise performance is moderate to good, and very good on the XRS.
The 2003 Toyota Matrix comes with standard required front-impact airbags. Anti-lock brakes are only standard on the XRS, and side-impact airbags are optional on all models.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Matrix: 21/27 mpg city/highway
- Youthful style
- XRS performance
- Fuel efficiency
You Won't Like
- Base engine performance
- Lack of standard features
- Noise on base engine
A convenient vehicle for city driving with a stylish exterior and good gas mileage.
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