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Avg. Price Paid:$7,837 - $8,963
Original MSRP: $15,510 - $17,820
MPG: 26 City / 33 Hwy
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2008 Toyota Matrix Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Toyota Matrix was new.

Reviewers find the Matrix hits and misses on interior form and function. While there is plenty of praise given for the substantial headroom and fold-flat rear seats, there are just as many groans for the illegible instrument panel.

One of those hits is the Matrix's variable nature. Reviewers like Motor Trend and Kelley Blue Book describe the inside as highly "flexible" and "versatile."

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Seating

Reviewers don't agree on seat comfort in the Matrix. Writers from Kelley Blue Book find them "firm and comfortable," while the Arizona Republic writes both "front and rear are surprisingly roomy given the short dimensions." But others had difficulty. As USA Today describes, "seats are agreeable until about 350 miles, when squirming begins. A subtle lumbar adjustment -- an oxymoron? -- would help." In terms of space, the Chicago Tribune jokes the "Matrix is a tad narrow and better fits punters than linemen."

Disagreement continues as the reviewers describe the driver's legroom. MSN says the "driver's seat moves back enough to satisfy at least an NBA guard," but Consumer Guide is convinced "lanky adults may wish for more leg-stretching space." Edmunds had difficulty with the Matrix's tilting (but not telescoping) steering wheel. "As this one is mounted close to the dash, several editors complained that they weren't able to find an optimal driving position."

The writers did praise some things about the seating. "Rear-seat accommodations are excellent," according to Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book likes that rear passengers sit up high, "affording passengers more legroom as well as a good view forward." Additionally, most admit the Matrix provides premium headroom. "Wonder of wonders, interior head room offers me an inch or two of air," Road and Track's writer pens. "This is true even in the back seat...there are plenty of cars, considerably bulkier in exterior dimensions, for which this is not the case."

Interior Features

Auto critics are generally of one accord on the 2008 Matrix gauges, as the Washington Post explains. "The brightwork around the instrument clusters of the Vibe and the Matrix is too bright, especially when the sun hits the ornamentation, sending blinding rays to the eyes." MSN says wearing sunglasses won't help, in fact, it makes reading the gauges "almost impossible."

The trouble with the gauges is twofold: One, the gauges glow red, and two, they are deeply recessed in the panel. However, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others can see the gauges clearly at night, and U.S. News' Rick Newman calls them "cool, when you can see them."

Reviewers' favorite feature on the 2008 Toyota Matrix is the XR trim's 115-volt power outlet, located on the dashboard. "It accepts household-style plugs, allowing owners to plug in a variety of items," Edmunds writes. "Heavy-draw appliances are off the list, but things like laptops, shavers and small air compressors are fine. You could also hook up a portable DVD movie player."

Stereo and Entertainment

Rather than noting its sound quality, reviewers focus on the Matrix base stereo's functionality. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel claims the equalizer "takes a bit of figuring out," but doesn't elaborate why or how, while Edmunds goes into more detail with its complaint. "Unlike the usual Toyota head unit, these controls seemed a bit disorganized and had a lower grade look and feel. And that's when we learned from our stereo expert that this was one of GM's contributions to the Matrix/Vibe project -- a Delco head unit."

While the base stereo is AM/FM with a CD player and four speakers, the XR has an optional JBL Audio system with seven speakers, noted as one of Kelley Blue Book's favorite features. "If you like your music loud and your bass thumping, this system is sure to please."

Navigation

The optional navigation system in the Matrix isn't popular with many reviewers. U.S. News' Rick Newman points out that it's DVD-based, meaning it will tie up the audio system, while Edmunds grumbles that it's operated by a joystick, "making it harder to enter information than if it were a touchscreen."

Cargo

The 2008 Toyota Matrix's strong suit is utility, according to the majority of reviewers. The Matrix has 21.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 53.2 cubic feet with the second row down, "fine overall space for the exterior size," Consumer Guide reports. But the reviews place more significance on the Matrix's adaptability than its space. "As with many cars, the Matrix's rear seats fold 60/40. Unlike most, however, they fold utterly flat, even with their headrests in place and the front seats positioned aft," Road and Track explains. "This trickery is brought off by clever articulation of the rear seat cushion during the process, which, by the way, is easily accomplished with one hand."

The front seat also folds flat. "That creates a long, uninterrupted diagonal space for lumbar, surfboards, bodies, what have you," USA Today notes, later highlighting the flat front seat's utility as "a flat table for your laptop computer, video gear or Big Mac."

The Matrix's tailgate is also a highlight. As MSN explains, "a tailgate window pops up if you want to toss in items without opening" the door. If you do lift the tailgate, Edmunds praises Toyota for its user-friendly design, which "includes an exterior latch and a usable interior grab handle that actually has enough leverage to close the gate in one motion (such that there's no need to push on the outside of the gate when it's all grimy)."

For smaller items "storage bins abound," says the Washington Post, while Consumer Guide specifically highlights a "large glovebox and underfloor spaces around space tire." In total, there are four cupholders, two cargo nets and eight adjustable tie-down hooks and an under-deck storage compartment.

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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