Toyota Matrix Review
The 2013 Toyota Matrix ranks 30 out of 40 Affordable Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 50 published reviews and test drives of the Toyota Matrix, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
The 2013 Toyota Matrix is ranked:
While the 2013 Toyota Matrix’s available all-wheel is rare in this class, test drivers don’t think it compensates for the Matrix’s mediocre performance and cheap interior.
Most auto critics agree that the 2013 Toyota Matrix lags behind class leaders in the performance category. They say that power from the base 1.8-liter engine is just adequate. The optional 2.4-liter engine delivers more power for passing and merging on the highway, but test drivers are disappointed with its fuel economy ratings, particularly on models equipped with all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is uncommon for an affordable small car, and while it may be helpful on snowy roads, some reviewers say it does little to improve the Matrix's handling. With all-wheel drive, the Matrix averages 20/26 mpg city/highway. Without all-wheel drive, the base Matrix yields 25/32 mpg with an automatic transmission, which is less than what highly-ranked affordable small cars average. The 2013 Matrix offers three transmissions: a standard five-speed manual and optional four- and five-speed automatics. Reviewers like the automatic transmissions most, but wish the four-speed had more gears like many rivals. Reviews of the Matrix’s handling are mixed. Some test drivers think the steering is accurate. Others report that the Matrix suffers from noseplow and body lean. Most test drivers say the brakes are strong. Though many reviewers aren't pleased with the Matrix's performance, the hatchback has an above-average reliability rating, which is important to consider if vehicle dependability is more important to you than speed and agility.
Reviewers complain that the 2013 Toyota Matrix is constructed with cheap interior materials, but also say that’s what they expect of an affordable small car. The Matrix is one of the most expensive models in its class, and it comes with a lot of standard features, including a USB port and Bluetooth. However, features that are often available on competitors, such as parking sensors, navigation and a rearview camera, aren’t available on the Matrix at all. Though the Matrix has one of the largest cargo holds in its class, auto writers aren’t satisfied with its cabin space. They say that some drivers will want more legroom, and that the rear seats also lack legroom for adults. Reviewers do appreciate the Matrix’s ride height, which offers a nice view of the road, much like affordable compact SUVs.
- "A front-drive S model with no options is the best choice in this lineup. That said, you can find more refined compact hatchbacks and wagons for about the same money." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
- "But, the Matrix's age is taking its toll, namely in the noticeable absence of cutting-edge infotainment and audio features. Newer models from Kia, Hyundai, Nissan and Ford are similarly priced and offer far more in the way of power, features and fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Though it offers plenty of practicality and comfort, the … Toyota Matrix has been overshadowed by newer competing hatchbacks." -- Edmunds (2012)
- "Even when pushed, the Matrix felt like a car you would feel safe handing over to a young driver. And if you are a veteran driver in search of stable, basic transportation with some exterior sportiness, shop the Matrix against other hatchbacks. You won't be disappointed." -- The Boston Globe (2009)
Other Cars to Consider
Few affordable small cars have all-wheel drive, but if you want this feature, consider the Subaru Impreza. With standard all-wheel drive, the Impreza’s fuel economy ratings are better than a comparable Matrix’s. Like most small cars, test drivers wish the base Impreza was more powerful, but they really like the turbocharged engines available in the WRX models. Reviewers say the Impreza’s cabin is well-made and has comfortable and roomy front and rear seats.
If you don’t mind trading all-wheel drive for better performance, more comfortable seats and more cargo space, consider the Honda Fit. Its cargo area is the most spacious of any hatchback in the class, and the available cargo space even competes with some compact SUVs. Reviewers say the Fit also has excellent front and rear visibility and a comfortable back row that offers plenty of space for adults.
Details: 2013 Toyota Matrix
The five-seat 2013 Toyota Matrix is available in L and S trims, which essentially differentiate in engine size. Both engines are four-cylinder units, but the S trim has a more powerful 2.4-liter engine. Both trims can be equipped with either manual or automatic transmissions, and the S trim offers all-wheel drive. The Matrix was redesigned for the 2009 model year, so this overview uses applicable research and reviewers from the 2009 to 2013 model years.
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