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2005 Toyota Matrix Review
Cheap, no-frills, urban transportation.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2005 Toyota Matrix quickly earns a reputation as one of the best compact wagons on the market. This stylish looking little hatchback has a reputation as an excellent people hauler that gets great gas mileage.
It also suffers for being underpowered and not very fun to drive. The great gas mileage comes at a price. As always, Toyota packs in a lot of really great options and features for the price. The best features about the Matrix include all-wheel drive, which comes standard on the base and XR models.
Unlike the Mini, the Matrix emphasizes style and fuel economy over driving ability. This makes a great vehicle for people who need something affordable to get them around town. It also provides a frugal choice for a young person in need of basic transportation. It marks one of the cheapest cars to offer all-wheel drive and power steering.
Engines: 1.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, six-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Toyota Matrix, Toyota Matrix XR, Toyota Matrix XRS
Stability control comes as an option in all Matrix models. The Matrix gets a slight makeover for 2005 that includes a new front bumper, grille, and taillights. Inside it houses a new audio unit. Side curtain airbags comes as an option for all Matrix models.
The Matrix’s best selling point remains its stylish body. It shows off a classy modern look that appeals to people who dislike the retro look of competitors such as the Mini and the Beetle. Some of the extras include steel wheels and full wheel covers. The XRS serves as a slightly sportier version of the standard Matrix.
Toyota provides a lot of extra head and legroom in the Matrix. That makes this an appropriate commuter vehicle because it feels so comfortable. Some of the features that make the interior so comfortable include bucket seats, interior air filtration, and air-conditioning. Other features remain pretty basic, including a six-speaker sound system with an AM/FM radio and a CD player and a low-fuel warning light.
The Matrix lacks a lot of the electronics and entertainment technology that come standard in many of today’s cars. It does not offer satellite radio, surround sound, Bluetooth, or connections for gadgets like MP3 players. The XRS aims to be slightly more luxurious, but all it offers in addition to the base model is leather seats.
Performance & Handling
The Matrix does not deliver a fun driving experience. It is underpowered and lacks a lot of the driving aides found on more expensive cars. Toyota has been trying to fix this by adding traction and stability control as options. The all-wheel drive makes the base and XR versions a little better than average winter driving cars. Some drivers appreciate the standard power steering, although it does not seem to improve the handling. An automatic transmission comes as an option in the XR and a five-speed manual transmission comes standard in the base and XR models. The XRS offers a six-speed manual transmission and slightly higher gas mileage, but does not deliver any added performance.
The Matrix includes a variety of safety features designed with urban driving in mind. Rear door child safety locks, daytime running lights, front fog driving lights, electronic brake force distribution, an engine immobilizer, and tire pressure monitoring come standard. Side curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control now provide options for the Matrix.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Matrix XR 1.4-liter: 26/33 mpg city/highway
Toyota Matrix XRS 1.7-liter: 22/29 mpg city/highway
- Sleek stylish body
- Standard all-wheel drive on base and XRS
- Excellent fuel economy
- Low price
- Lots of interior space
- Lots of cargo room for the size
- Interior air filtration
- Wide choice of body colors
- Optional stability and traction controls
You Won't Like
- Low-powered 1.4-liter lacks torque
- No automatic transmission in base and XRS models
- Lacks standard airbags
- Few interior amenities
- Subpar handling
- Basic sound system
- Low ground clearance
- Lacks a real spare tire
Cheap, no-frills, urban transportation.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Mini Cooper
- Volkswagen Beetle
- Honda CR-Z
- Ford Escort
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Corolla
- Honda Civic