2003 Matrix New Car Test Drive
It's cool. It's hip.' Or as the Brits would say: 'It's got street cred.' (That's street credibility: popularity and acceptance among fashionable urban people, especially the young.)
These are not the sort of words normally used to describe Toyotas. Until now that is. Toyota is hoping that its new Matrix, a Street Performance Utility, as it's being called, will be a hit with younger buyers. Part car, part wagon, part minivan, part SUV, the Matrix occupies a new niche.
Although it looks radically different from the Corolla, it is based on the same platform, which means that it will prove to be a solid reliable car just like the plain Jane sedan.
Toyota quite rightly says it is a car that combines the style and performance of a sports car, the functionality of an SUV, and the affordability of a compact sedan. It's for young buyers who want a vehicle with a sporty image and high functionality.
The Toyota Matrix consists of three trim lines: standard Matrix, Matrix XR and Matrix XRS.
Two engines are available. Matrix and Matrix XR are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 130 horsepower with two-wheel drive and 123 horsepower with four-wheel drive. XRS comes with a 180-horsepower version of the same engine.
The base Matrix comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and plenty of features, including air conditioning and an AM/FM radio with CD player for a base retail price of $14,670 plus a destination fee of $485.
Automatic transmissions and four-wheel drive are available, but only on the base and XR models. Automatic transmission adds $800, while 4WD adds another $1,465 to the retail price.
XR starts at $16,180 with a manual transmission. It has the same engine but adds power door locks, power windows and remote key fob as well as a rear window wiper. A wider range of optional equipment can be added to the XR than the base model.
XRS is a high-performance model. It costs $18,750 and is only available with front-drive and a six-speed manual transmission. It is powered by the same 1.8-liter engine, but tuned to deliver 180 horsepower instead of the standard 130 horsepower. The XRS includes the same features as the XR plus 16-inch alloy wheels and anti-lock brakes.
Toyota worked with GM to develop this product and the Pontiac Vibe is similar. Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix have identical interiors but different exterior designs. Pontiac Vibes are more costly than the equivalent Toyota Matrix models.