2006 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.
The Matrix offers peppy acceleration, particularly around town. It corners nicely yet offers a smooth, comfortable ride. It's 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 164-horsepower engine, we preferred the 126-horsepower models for their more relaxed, more pleasant demeanor. Most popular is the mid-grade Matrix XR. (Note that horsepower numbers are lower for 2006 models due to a change in how power is calculated. Performance of the engines remains unchanged from 2005 models.)
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 and it has proven to be a popular vehicle. It shares much in common with the Pontiac Vibe.
Toyota Matrix is available in three trim lines: the standard Matrix, XR, and XRS. Front-wheel-drive (2WD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) 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 126 horsepower (123 horsepower with four-wheel drive). Matrix XRS is a high-performance model powered by a 164-horsepower version of the 1.8-liter engine.
The base Matrix ($15,110) comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but it's also available with an automatic ($15,910) or all-wheel-drive automatic ($17,645). 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 ($510) adds power windows, power door locks, and remote keyless entry.
Matrix XR ($16,590) adds anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (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 ($17,420) or all-wheel drive and automatic ($18,985). Extra Value Package 1 ($270) includes cruise control, fog lamps, and front and rear spoilers. Extra Value Package 2 ($880) adds 16-inch alloy wheels and power moonroof. A JBL premium sound system ($600) with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer is a new option for 2006 Matrix XR models.
Matrix XRS ($19,100) is available only with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels. XRS gets four-wheel disc brakes, preferable to the rear drum brakes found on the other models and is equipped with ABS and EBD. JBL audio with CD is optional. Sounds like alphabet soup.
Safety is enhanced by ordering optional side curtain and seat-mounted side-impact airbags ($645). The available Vehicle Stability Control ($650) virtually eliminates skidding. Optional anti-lock brakes ($390) with electronic brake-force distribution can help the driver maintain steering control in an emergency braking situation.