Toyota used an ultra-hip specialty car show when it debuted its new Matrix five-door to instill it with an instant ‘cool’ credibility. That move might have come about because the average buyer of the last Matrix was over 50 … and Toyota wants to skew that demographic more towards the lucrative youth market.
Built in California along side its Pontiac Vibe mechanical twin — and also in Cambridge, Ont. — the Matrix wagon blends the “affordability of a subcompact sedan and functionality of an SUV with the style, image and performance of a sports car.”
Wider and lower, this edgy-looking second-generation Matrix shares its engine lineup with its GM cousin, starting with a fuel-conscious 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine producing 132 horsepower. Toyota, however, uses its own variable valve timing system to maximize engine performance and fuel economy.
For those craving a bit more grunt, the Matrix also offers a 158 hp, 2.4-litre ‘four’.
Pricewise there’s something for every budget, starting at a low-low base price of $15,705 for the base front-wheel-drive model with manual transmission. Standard is a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input jack, rear-seat heater ducts and side window defoggers, 60/40-split fold down rear seat, rev counter, outside temp gauge, digital clock, dual vanity mirrors, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, tonneau cover, cargo-area lighting, lots of storage, an engine immobilizer and foldable power-heated side mirrors.
A $2,540 B Package adds air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and locks, rear bumper protector and a tire pressure monitoring system. The $3,965 Touring Package brings the ‘B’ items plus 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a rear spoiler, scuff plates and fog lamps.
All of which still allows the Matrix to list at under 20 grand with a five-speed manual. The automatic is an additional $1,010.
Moving up the $19,180 Matrix XR, its bigger 2.4-litre engine offers a significant power boost.
A great decision was to bring back the all-wheel-drive Matrix, equipped with the 2.4 engine and only available with the four-speed automatic at $22,330.
It’s a base Matrix, plus keyless entry and hatch release, an upgraded lighting system, variable-speed wipers, tire pressure monitoring, power locks and climate control. An all-wheel-drive XR will set you back $24,945 with the Sport package going for $26,855.
At the top of the range is the $25,220 Matrix XRS. Performance differences over the other models include beefier suspension bits and 18-inch wheels.
Any way you look at it, the Matrix is just about all the vehicle you’ll ever need and, with its combination of stylish design, good options and aggressive pricing, it’s a lot more versatile, sporty and fun-to-drive than similarly priced small sedans.