NEW FOR 2009:

– All-new redesigned model
– All-wheel drive and XRS models re-introduced

For 2009, the redesigned, second-generation Toyota Matrix reintroduces the all-wheel drive and XRS models that were last seen in model-year 2006.

First introduced for model-year 2003, the Toyota Matrix shares its platform and engines with the Toyota Corolla, which is also redesigned for 2009. Unlike the global Corolla, the Matrix is sold only in North America, and built at one facility in Canada.

As in 2008, the Matrix uses a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, but it’s a new version that makes more horsepower and torque; there’s also a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder. The 1.8-litre is used only in the base front-wheel drive model, and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. The 2.4-litre is found in the XR and XRS, with five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic, and in the all-wheel drive model, which exclusively uses a four-speed automatic. That model shares its AWD transfer case with the Toyota RAV4.

For the first time, all models feature four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, side and curtain airbags, active front head restraints and electric power steering.

Features on the base Matrix FWD model include 16-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack and four speakers, cloth bucket seats, driver’s cushion height adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, Optitron electronic gauges, dual vanity mirrors, tonneau cover, tilt and telescopic wheel, cargo lamp, carpet floor mats, digital clock, heated mirrors, tinted glass, intermittent wipers and intermittent rear wiper/washer.

The XR adds air conditioning, six speakers, fold-flat front passenger seat, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, front console box with lid, illuminated entry, cruise control, map lights and variable intermittent wipers.

The AWD is equipped similarly to the XR.

The XRS adds 18-inch alloy wheels, six-CD/MP3 stereo, premium cloth seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sunglasses storage, full skirt package, power sunroof, fog lamps, and stability and traction control.

The Matrix enjoys a well-done makeover for 2009; its exterior dimensions are only marginally changed, and despite a lower height, it still offers considerable legroom. Sleeker styling and an improved interior combine with new standard safety features to make this a viable entry in the "tall wagon" category.

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