CHANGES FOR 2013:

– Upgraded audio on AWD and XRS models.

The practical hatchback Matrix wins on utility, providing 1,360 L of storage capacity with the rear seats folded flat, and a hard plastic load area that makes sliding in bulky objects a breeze. While the interior looks overwrought and plasticky, the controls and gauges are easily decipherable and the seats very comfortable. Power from the base 1.8-litre four is merely adequate but the payoff is excellent fuel economy. While not particularly sporty, the base Matrix’s ride is smooth and soaks up imperfections in a refined manner. For more fun, look at the 158-hp XRS and AWD models.

The Matrix comes with a choice of two engines. A 1.8-litre four-cylinder is used in the base Matrix, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder is used in the XRS and AWD. The Matrix uses a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, while the XRS uses the five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic. The AWD uses the four-speed automatic exclusively.

Features on the base Matrix include 16-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and four speakers, cloth seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, driver’s manual seat height adjustment, outside temperature gauge, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, cargo lamp, map lights, illuminated entry, floor mats, digital clock, active front head restraints, heated mirrors, front and rear splash guards, intermittent wipers, and intermittent rear washer/wiper.

The XRS adds 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, 6.1-inch AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with 6 speakers and XM satellite radio, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, sport seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, power locks with keyless entry, power windows with driver’s auto-down, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, 115-volt power outlet, sport grille, rear bumper protector, power sunroof, chrome exhaust tip, front and rear underbody spoilers, roof-mounted spoiler, and fog lamps.

The AWD builds on the base Matrix and adds air conditioning, 6.1-inch AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with 6 speakers and XM satellite radio, fold-flat front passenger seat, power locks with keyless entry, power windows with driver’s auto-down, cruise control, roof rails with crossbars and variable intermittent wipers.

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