2005 Matrix New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Matrix combines the style and fun of a sport coupe with the utility of a small sport utility at the price of a compact. Matrix was designed for people who want a vehicle with a sporty image and high functionality.
We found the Matrix offers peppy acceleration, particularly around town. It corners nicely yet offers a smooth, comfortable ride. Matrix is practical, with a big cargo area that can be expanded by folding down the rear seats. And it's stylish.
While the high-performance XRS model has drawn some attention with its high-revving 180-horsepower engine, we preferred the 130-horsepower models for their more relaxed, more pleasant demeanor. Most popular is the mid-grade Matrix XR.
Minor styling revisions freshen the appearance of the Matrix for 2005. More important, side curtain airbags have been added as optional equipment and come packaged with seat-mounted side-impact airbags ($645). Also optional on 2005 models is Vehicle Stability Control, or VSC, which virtually eliminates skidding. This is in addition to optional anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, designed to help the driver maintain steering control in an emergency braking situation.
Matrix is based on the Toyota Corolla and is built in California at a plant jointly owned with General Motors. Matrix was introduced as a 2003 model. It has proven to be a popular vehicle: Toyota sold more than 67,000 of them during calendar year 2003. Pontiac sold nearly 57,000 Vibe models during that same period.
Toyota Matrix is available in three trim lines: the standard Matrix, XR, and XRS. Front-wheel-drive (2WD) and all-wheel-drive (4WD) versions are available along with a choice of two engines: Matrix and Matrix XR are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 130 horsepower (123 horsepower with four-wheel drive). Matrix XRS is a high-performance model powered by a 180-horsepower version of the 1.8-liter engine.
The base Matrix ($14,760) comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but it's also available with an automatic ($15,560) or all-wheel-drive automatic ($17,295). Air conditioning and an AM/FM radio with CD player come standard along with newly added features including a lever-type seat-height adjuster, sliding sun visor, UV cut glass, and a new audio head unit design with a separate clock display. A Power Package ($480) adds power windows, power door locks, and remote keyless entry.
Matrix XR ($16,240) adds ABS with EBD, power door locks, power windows, and the remote key fob as well as a rear window wiper. It's also available with the automatic ($17,070) or all-wheel drive and automatic ($18,635). A wider range of optional equipment is available for the XR as well. Extra Value Package 1 ($270) includes cruise control, fog lamps, and front and rear spoilers. To this, Extra Value Package 2 ($880) adds 16-inch alloy wheels and power moonroof.
Matrix XRS ($18,750) is available only with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. XRS gets four-wheel disc brakes, preferable to the rear drum brakes found on the other models. A new JBL audio system with CD changer is optional.