Developed in a joint venture with General Motors, the Toyota Matrix (also known as the Toyota Corolla Matrix), is considered by many as one of the first quintessential crossovers, blending characteristics from compact sedans, station wagons, hatchbacks, and SUVs.
The Toyota Matrix debuted in 2002 as a 2003 model. Sharing a similar base or shell to the Toyota Corolla compact sedan, the Matrix differs due to its large passenger and cargo space. With all seats up, the Toyota Matrix still offers nearly 20 cubic feet of space behind the passenger row. Drop the front and rear passenger seats and you have three times the amount of cargo space at 61.5 cubic feet. The Toyota Matrix is still a compact vehicle, though, and taller drivers may still find headroom lacking, though not as extreme as some of the newer compact crossovers and their more swooping designs.
The Toyota Matrix's two available engines offer plenty of power though neither vehicle is a pocket rocket. The top-of-the-line Toyota Matrix XRS with its sporty suspension was discontinued in 2010. Toyota, however, made more features standard in the both the base and S models.
The General Motors counterpart to the Toyota Matrix is the Pontiac Vibe, which was discontinued when GM shut down the Pontiac brand last year.
Body style: Hatchback
Engines: 1.8-liter inline-4; 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Toyota Matrix base, Toyota Matrix S
With the last major update back in 2009, the 2012 Toyota Matrix enters the new model year virtually unchanged.
Toyota reskinned the Matrix to be more sleek and sporty in 2009 in comparison to its predecessor, and it carries into the new model year barely touched.
There are no notable changes in the Toyota Matrix, which carries over unchanged into the new model year. Note Toyota discontinued the sporty Matrix XRS in 2011 but standardized many features into the remaining base and S models. Some of those features include cruise control and rear seat air conditioning vents.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 Toyota Matrix continues to be powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 (base) or 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which is found in the S model. Though the 1.8-liter engine is sluggish from a stop, we found it to be actually rev-happy on the road, willing to respond to a stomp of the accelerator. We recommended the five-speed manual with the engine to maximize fuel economy, which is considerable at 26 mpg city and 32 mpg on the highway. If you're looking for power, especially torque or low-end pulling power, then you'll want the larger 2.4 liter engine. However, fuel economy for the engine suffers, especially in the all-wheel drive version of the Matrix S, which gets 20/26 mpg city/highway.
The 2012 Toyota Matrix, like all current Toyota vehicles, comes standard with the Toyota STAR safety system which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist, Smart Stop (SST), traction control (TRAC), and vehicle stability control (VSC). Also standard includes six standard airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and front-and-rear side-curtain airbags.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Matrix with 1.8-liter inline-4 engine: 26 mpg city/32 mpg highway (manual); 25 mpg/32 highway (automatic)
Toyota Matrix with 2.4-liter inline-4 engine: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway (manual); 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway (automatic); 20 mpg/26 mpg highway (all-wheel drive)
- Simple controls
Toyota Racing Development versions
You Won't Like
- 1.8-liter engine's weak performance
2.4-liter engine's low fuel economy
Reliable hatch with available AWD
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Focus
- Honda Fit