Officially sold in North America until being discontinued, the Matrix was positioned as a sporty hatchback counterpart of the North American Corolla and was counted as a variant of it in Toyota's sales figures.
Although identical mechanically, and nearly as much internally, the Matrix and Vibe had different sheetmetal and exterior trim designed by their respective brands. Both vehicles are narrow, tall station wagons styled in a quasi-SUV fashion (called a crossover utility vehicle or "CUV" by Toyota) and marketed to a fairly youthful market segment. This type of car is also commonly referred to as a sport wagon.
First sold in February 2002, the Matrix saw a minor facelift for the 2005 model year, and was redesigned completely in 2008 for the 2009 model year, following the tenth generation Corolla. Sales of the Matrix were discontinued in the United States in 2013, and in Canada in 2014.
The Matrix was first introduced in the 2003 model year and based on the Toyota Corolla platform. Relatively unchanged in 2004, a facelift for 2005 brought minor revisions to the exterior – mainly revised styling to the front fascia due to complaints of rubbing the ground on the previous incarnation and replacing the red lenses on the taillamps with clear ones. Also, the center instrument panel was slightly redesigned and featured a Toyota head unit in place of the previous GM-sourced radio.
Two 1.8 L four-cylinder engines were offered in the Matrix: the 1ZZ-FE used in the Corolla, which originally made 130 horsepower (97 kW) in 2003 through 2005 models, but was reduced to 126 horsepower (94 kW) in 2006, and the performance-oriented 2ZZ-GE taken from the Toyota Celica GT-S, which produced 164 horsepower (122 kW) (previously 180 horsepower (130 kW) in 2003, 173 hp (129 kW) in 2004, and 170 horsepower (130 kW) in 2005). The 2006 drop in power was due to new testing standards, and not a change in the engine's actual performance.
In late 2006, Toyota discontinued use of the 2ZZ-GE engine and dropped the XRS from the Matrix lineup to be temporarily replaced by the M-Theory edition. Like each year of the XRS model, the M-Theory was a limited production run of 2500 cars.All wheel drive was also available from 2003–2006 when coupled to the 1ZZ engine and automatic transmission, but was dropped at the same time as the XRS.
2005–2008 Toyota Matrix Standard
Starting out at US$14,670 in 2003, the no-frills base model came with few options. While it did have standard air conditioning, it left out features like color-keyed mirrors and door handles, blacked out window frames and power mirrors. One option the base model could be had with was AWD for an additional $1,465 (although the actual increase was $2,445, since AWD only came with an automatic transmission). Adding AWD brought the car's curb weight of 2,679 lb (1,215 kg) up to 2,943 lb (1,335 kg) and decreased power by 7 hp (5 kW) and 7 lb⋅ft (9 N⋅m). In 2004, the price of a base model remained unchanged, but by the last year of production, 2008, it had risen to $15,510.
2003–2004 Toyota Matrix XR
The Matrix's XR mid-grade trim level added features like color-matched mirrors and door handles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a panic button on the key fob. Options available with the XR trim included a sunroof, body kit, and 16-inch (410 mm) alloy wheels. A 2003 XR started at US$16,180 and 2,701 lb (1,225 kg), but when equipped with AWD cost at least $18,445 (only $305 less than an XRS) and weighed in at 2,965 lb (1,345 kg). Like the base model, the XR's AWD engine was detuned. Again, the car's price for its sophomore year stayed the same, but in the four years after that, it rose to $16,990.
For US$18,750-, the top-of-the-line model came standard with four-wheel disc brakes and six speakers. Also included on all XRS models were anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, 16-inch alloy wheels, and cruise control. In 2003, 17-inch wheels could be had, but only on cars without a sunroof. An option combining 17-inch (430 mm) wheels and a sunroof became available the second year of production. In 2005, an XRS started out at $18,850, and for its last year, it sold for at least $19,250.
The XRS trim included an engine upgrade to Toyota's higher-performance 2ZZ-GE engine. Displacing 1,796 cc (1.796 L; 109.6 cu in), or 109.6 cubic inches, it produced 180 hp (134 kW) and 130 lb⋅ft (176 N⋅m) – a then-rare 100 horsepower-per-liter. While its 11.5:1 compression ratio was a large factor in its performance, the engine could change to a second cam profile at higher RPM through Toyota's VVTL-i and was designed for operation up to 8500 RPM. The engine's high compression necessitates "premium" gasoline (91 octane or above in the (R+M)/2 scale). With the exception of an available automatic in 2003, a six-speed manual transmission was the only gearbox offered in the XRS. A Transitional Low Emission Vehicle (TLEV) its first year of production, the 2ZZ was retrofitted in 2004 with a smog pump and reclassified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).
Not a trim level, the M-Theory edition was a 2007-only appearance package with an exclusive "Speedway Blue" color. For US$1,500, a customer got 17-inch Caldina wheels, a chrome exhaust tip, a numbered plaque (1 of 2500), four wheel disc brakes, and a spoiler. To improve handling, a "sport tuned suspension" and strut tower brace were included.
2004 XRS dashboard
Interior with seats folded.
One of the Matrix's unique design features is its interior, particularly the rear 60/40 seats and cargo area. Made with rigid plastic backs, the rear seats fold flat, creating a 53.2 cu ft (1.51 m3) cargo area. In a practicality test, Motor Trend was able to haul more cargo in the Matrix than in a Subaru WRX wagon with 61.1 cu ft (1.73 m3) of space. In addition to the eight tie-downs in the back for attaching the included cargo nets and tonneau cover, the seats and rear floor have integrated rails for installing extra tie-downs.
Up front, the passenger seat also folds flat, accommodating long items like surf boards or allowing drivers to use the tray in its back to hold items like a laptop computer. An electronic device can be charged with the 115 volt/100 watt power inverter (US models only). The first year of production (2003), the instrument cluster was completely red. However, the next year, Toyota made the numbers white while keeping the rest of the gauges red. When the car was updated in 2005, a digital clock was added to the radio bezel.
In May 2008, Toyota issued a recall for 2003 and 2004 model year Corollas and Matrixes. The recall notice cites two bolts in each of the front doors as potentially causing the window to come off the track and break. This recall only applies to models equipped with power windows. General Motors issued a recall for the same problem on 2003 and 2004 Pontiac Vibes with power windows at the same time.
On August 26, 2010, Toyota issued a recall for 2005 to 2008 model year Corollas and Matrixes, equipped with the 1ZZ-FE engine and two-wheel drive. The recall notices states that an improperly manufactured Engine Control Module (ECM) can develop a crack in its circuitry, potentially causing the "Check Engine" light to illuminate, harsh shifting, and stalling and/or failure of the engine to start.
Initially rumored by Toyota and auto news media as a Matrix replacement named the Blade, the second generation Matrix was unveiled on October 31, 2007, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, and was first available at dealerships in February 2008, as a 2009 model. The Matrix' Pontiac Vibe sibling was also upgraded, but production of that model ended after 2009 when the entire Pontiac brand was retired.
In the United States, three trim grades (Standard [base], S, and XRS) are offered, as well as two inline-four engines: a 1,797 cc (1.797 L; 109.7 cu in) 2ZR-FE for the base model (chassis code ZRE142) and a 2,362 cc (2.362 L; 144.1 cu in) 2AZ-FE for the S and XRS grades. The former is offered with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the larger engine is equipped with either a manual or automatic five-speed transmission. In addition, the S grade can be equipped with a four-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
2011 Toyota Matrix XR AWD
Canadian buyers are offered four trim levels: a 1.8 L-powered base model and the XR, AWD, and XRS models with a 2.4-liter engine.
This Toyota Matrix generation marks it the first time it is sold in Mexico. The Toyota Matrix comes only in two trim levels to Mexico: Base and XR.
For the 2011 model year, the Matrix received redesigned exterior and interior elements, including front and rear fascias, wheels, and seat fabrics.
Toyota Matrix XRS
In 2008 Toyota began offering different trim levels in the United States and Canada. The XR trim became exclusive for Canada, and the S model was released only in the U.S., while AWD remained available in both markets after 2009. All vehicles have an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts, but only XRS models and cars equipped with all-wheel drive and 158 horsepower, feature an independent rear suspension using double wishbones instead of a semi-independent torsion beam. The 2009 models have less interior space than the preceding years, with a total of 48.9 cu ft (1.38 m3) compared to the original 53.2 cu ft (1.51 m3).
The XRS grade was dropped from the U.S. lineup for the 2011 model year.
The 2009 to 2010 model year Toyota Matrix (and its Pontiac Vibe relative) are subject to the 2009–2011 Toyota vehicle recalls regarding floor mat and accelerator pedal replacement.
On October 10, 2012, Toyota issued a recall for 2009 model year Corolla and Matrix, along with 10 other models. The recall notices states that improperly lubricated driver's side power window master switch may develop a “notchy” or sticky feel, and that improper aftermarket lubrication may present a fire hazard. The repair involves lubricating the switch assembly with a special fluorine grease.
On August 5, 2013, Toyota announced that it would end production of the Matrix for the US market after the 2013 model year due to declining sales, and that there were no plans to replace it with another vehicle. The Canadian market continued for the 2014 model year, with those assembled in Cambridge, Ontario by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. The Matrix was then discontinued in Canada and was not offered for the 2015 model year. Toyota continued to sell a range of compact hatchbacks in North America through its Scion brand. On September 1, 2016, "the Scion brand transitioned to Toyota." For the 2017 model year, the Corolla iM would be the successor of the Matrix. For the 2019 year, the newest iteration has been released as the Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
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