What’s New: Toyota updates its Matrix for 2009 with aggressive exterior styling, a new interior design, standard front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags, standard antilock disc brakes, a touch-screen navigation system, and a larger but less powerful four-cylinder engine option.
What We Think: Some staffers like the styling, some appreciate the handling, some applaud the price, and some are OK with the XRS’s less powerful engine. Others feel the opposite, but there is agreement on the 2009 Matrix’s comfort and utility. Before signing yourself up for five years of payments, check out strong competition from Mazda and Saturn.
Toyota Matrix – 2009 Review:
Back in the “Good Old Days” of the automobile in America, there was a thing called a station wagon. Families bought them because they could carry several passengers and their belongings, and they drove like the sedans they were based on. Some people bought them because they could fold down the rear seat and carry a lot of stuff out of the weather. Somewhere between the breakup of The Beatles and when Clark Griswold bought the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, Americans fell out of love with station wagons. Chrysler brought out the minivan, which was new and modern, and the public was smitten. Station wagon? That’s squaresville and un-cool.
Two decades later, the minivan struggles with love lost. SUVs and crossovers are now the darlings of consumers in the 21st century, yet wagons are still around: they just go by different names. Crossover is the most popular name, which is why Toyota wants you to believe that the Matrix is a crossover utility vehicle. It’s not that the Matrix doesn’t share some attributes, but it really is a wagon and that’s just fine. What buyers of the Corolla sedan-based Matrix seek is just what buyers have wanted all along, a small car ride with room for more people and cargo. The 2009 Matrix delivers that in three flavors, mild, medium and semi-hot. There’s also good gas mileage, sharper styling and a nice set of standard features.
The Corolla-based Matrix was introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, and for the first four years came in three different trim levels, with higher performance in the top two models. The past two years, only two models were offered and both came with the same four-cylinder engine.