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#19

in 2009 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,287 - $12,032
Original MSRP: $16,290 - $21,950
MPG: 21 City / 28 Hwy
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2009 Toyota Matrix Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Some test drivers say the 2009 Matrix has the power and ride quality that is expected of an affordable small car, but not much more. However, the highest Matrix XRS trim delivers more precision and polish.

  • "The 2009 Toyota Matrix still isn't as engaging to drive as a Mazda 3 or the recently introduced Mini Cooper Clubman. That's not to say the Matrix isn't a capable small wagon, though. Handling is stable and secure, the ride is quiet and refined and there's ample passing oomph with the larger engine." -- Edmunds
  • "Regardless of drive system or engine, the Matrix comes across quite polished for an economy car, the only negative is a tendency to catch and grab on bumpy roads and surface transitions under acceleration." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Performance-oriented drivers will enjoy the 2009 Toyota Matrix XRS trim level's combination of precise steering feel, sports-tuned suspension and grippy ultra-high-performance all-season tires." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As sporty as it looks, it didn't handle well on the highway. The wind and drafting from semis and large SUVs blew this little car all over the road. The Matrix kept up with traffic; it even exceeded the speed limit at times. ... So she's adequate in the power department, but she's not going to win any Most Zippy awards." -- Mother Proof

Acceleration and Power

Although the Matrix's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine provides a more pleasing driving experience, test drivers recommend the base 1.8-liter engine for buyers more concerned with fuel economy. The EPA rates the lower engine at 25/31 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission. The high level engine should achieve 20/26 mpg with a four-speed automatic.

  • "As you'd expect, the Matrix feels a little pokey accelerating off the line when equipped with the base 1.8-liter engine." -- Edmunds
  • "Its 2.4-liter, in-line four-cylinder, 158-horsepower engine was great for city driving and cruising highways in the middle and right lanes." -- The Washington Post
  • "The five-speed manual has a solid, hefty feel. It's much like the transmission in the Mazda3, another favorite stick shift of mine, but its throws feel even more precise than the Mazda." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

Most often categorized as a clean and competent on the road, the 2009 Matrix has an independent suspension system, electric power steering and anti-lock brakes. Vehicle Stability Control is standard for XRS trims.

  • "Every Matrix impresses with fine around-town maneuverability and assured stopping control and brake-pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Dynamics are simple: It's more fun to drive than either Scion or the Corolla, zipping around corners with controlled body roll like a decent sport/compact. Whether or not you need the hatchba...er, sport/utility's utility, it's the enthusiast's Corolla to have." -- Motor Trend
  • "Ride motions are well-damped and never offensive." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Steering is geared for quick responsiveness, and the brake pedal has a linear action for smooth stops." -- Chicago Sun-Times

All Wheel Drive

Toyota Matrix's all-wheel drive system is seamlessly engaged according to reviewers, but some say it's not worth the extra curb weight and lower gas mileage.

  • "Setting the Matrix apart is available all-wheel drive, which, although it exacts a penalty in fuel consumption, offers a persuasive and far less expensive alternative to mini-utes for those who need improved all-weather capability." -- Car and Driver
  • "There is no driver action required and you'll never know it's working until you see the front-drive Matrix stuck in the snow next to you while you move onward." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Unless you regularly encounter snowy conditions, the 2.4-liter engine does not produce enough power to make the all-wheel-drive option worth the cost and extra weight." -- Kelley Blue Book

Next Steps: 2009 Toyota Matrix

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