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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Toyota Matrix Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Toyota Matrix Overview

The Wagon Becomes Cool

The Matrix is a sporty little wagon that has broad appeal to young and old alike. Designed to look as though it just drove out of a customizing shop, the Matrix has a street-wise look that younger driver's yearn for while providing all the safety, comfort and versatility their parents prefer.

Though most people who know it think of the Matrix as a new car, it's really made up from a collection of Toyota's best pieces. The chassis is borrowed from the new Corolla, the engine and drivetrain come from the Celica GT and GT-S and the optional all-wheel drive has been plucked from the rugged RAV4. For 2004 Toyota offers the Matrix in three trims: base, XR and XRS. The Matrix is pulled about by its front wheels and offers the option of four-wheel drive on base and XR trims.

A brief walk around reveals the Matrix's strengths and weaknesses. The tall roof provides an obvious advantage in the areas of interior head and cargo room but the smallish rear windows create a bit of a rearward blind spot for the driver. XRS models come equipped with an integrated chin spoiler that definitely looks hot but sometimes incurs the wrath of steeply sloped driveways and stubborn speed bumps. The Matrix's small size permits it to find parking just about anywhere that is legal to do so and the large rear hatch allows speedy loading and unloading.

Look inside the Matrix and you'll find a detailed interior that meshes black cloth, chrome trim rings and brushed aluminum into pure automotive art. The dash looks like something straight out of a Hollywood science fiction flick, with the main instruments (speedo, tach, temp and fuel) housed in four deeply-recessed binnacles that are constantly backlit in a deep red glow. Just below the radio and ventilation controls resides the transmission shift lever that juts out from the raised center console. One of the most useful features you'll find on the dash is the 115-volt outlet that allows you to plug in everyday electrical items such as a laptop, Play Station or blender (for when you're tailgating of course.)

You'll find the Matrix's seating to be firm and comfortable, with a height-adjustable driver's seat on the XR and XRS trims. The XRS comes with a set of well-bolstered sport seats that provide hours of cramp-free driving and the sticky cloth seats keep a Velcro-like grip on you as you tear through turns. When not loaded with passengers, the Matrix's seats can be folded flat to create a rather roomy 53-cubic feet of cargo area. The seatbacks are covered in a durable hard plastic that create a solid, washable floor, so you don't have to worry about spills or scrapes. The rear seats feature a 60/40 split design, meaning you can still carry long items such as skis or surf boards and have room for one passenger.

A competent 1.8-liter engine powers the Matrix and Matrix XR. Rated at 130 horsepower, this engine can move the Matrix with ease, though you will have to keep the revs high in the rpm band to get the most of the engine's power. The standard five-speed manual is most helpful for this task, though you can opt for the four-speed automatic if you're not enamored with rowing your own gears. You should also note that four-wheel-drive Matrix models come only with the automatic. Four-wheel-drive Matrixs employ a viscous-coupling differential that momentarily sends power to rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip.

The powerhouse of the Matrix family is the XRS model that features a high-output version of the 1.8-liter engine. With 180 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission, there is no end to the trouble you can get yourself into. You'll find that the XRS is quick, but noisy, with a great deal of engine buzz that can become a bit tiresome after time. If you're not all about jack-rabbit starts and high-reving engines, you'll probably find that the XR trim to be more than adequate.

The Matrix comes fairly well equipped. A starting price of $15,185 gets you air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, power mirrors, intermittent wipers and a tachometer. The XR adds power windows and door locks, keyless entry, 115-volt outlet, a sport steering wheel and a rear wiper. The XRS adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, ABS and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo. Options include a power sunroof, side-impact airbags, upgraded wheels and tires and an onboard navigation unit.

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