Sharing its platform and mechanicals with Toyota's extremely popular Corolla, the Matrix offers consumers a small, compact wagon for those who need more cargo carrying capacity than the sedan provides.
We drove the "S" trim level of the second generation Matrix; a vehicle that was originally targeted at the youth market, but that has gained a broader acceptance with buyers who appreciate its combination of size, economy and utility.
Featuring sculpted body lines that flow rearward from a front end treatment that includes multi-reflector halogen headlamps on all trim levels the "S" and "XRS" versions also include integral fog lights, color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers and a roof end spoiler mounted on the rear lift gate.
Our test Matrix "S" also came with 17 inch alloy wheels shod with low profile 50-series performance tires.
There are two engine choices, a 1.8 Liter; 132 horsepower four and the up-rated 2.4 Liter 16-valve four, like in our test Matrix that develops 158 horsepower.
There are three transmissions to choose from: a five-speed manual and a four or 5-speed automatic.
The EPA classifies the Matrix as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. The example we drove listed mileage numbers of 21 MPG city and 28 Highway.
Both front and all-wheel drive is offered and the four wheel ABS disc brakes include standard Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake-Assist technology. "S" and "XRS" models can also be equipped with four-wheel independent suspension including Vehicle Stability and Traction Control.
The interior includes a tilt and telescoping multi-function steering wheel, standard in-dash AM/FM CD player that is MP3 and Satellite radio compatible and a full compliment of airbags. And the fold-down rear 60/40 split seats provide up to 60.9 cubic feet of cargo space.
The particular blend of economy, utility and performance that is found in the Matrix "S" carries an MSRP of $ 18,260. And, as with the complete Matrix line is backed up with a 3-year/ 36,000 mile warranty.