Used Vehicle Review:  Toyota Matrix, 2003 2008  used car reviews toyota
2007 Toyota Matrix; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

More Toyota Matrix reviews on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

By Chris Chase

In Toyota’s seemingly eternal quest to bring down the median age of its customers, the Matrix hatchback (or compact crossover, as its maker prefers to call it) was designed to appeal to young buyers. It certainly looks cool, but Toyota did little to differentiate its on-road behaviour from that of the Corolla, so while it’s pleasant to drive, fairly roomy and good on gas, there’s nothing that exciting about it.

Base Matrixes use the Corolla’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The Matrix XRS got the high-revving, 180-hp version of this engine, which was first used in the late Celica, along with a six-speed manual transmission as the only choice. An all-wheel drive Matrix was offered too, but it lost a few horsepower compared to the base model, and was only offered with the auto tranny.

Used Vehicle Review:  Toyota Matrix, 2003 2008  used car reviews toyota
2007 Toyota Matrix; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

Both the XRS and all-wheel drive option were dropped in 2007. The Matrix would be redesigned for 2009; that model will be covered in a future review.

Fuel consumption is good, though the Matrix can’t boast quite the same super-low numbers as its Corolla cousin. According to Natural Resources Canada, a base Matrix with automatic transmission (as the majority have been sold) will use about 8.5 L/100 km in the city and about 6.5 L/100 km on the highway. Base models with a manual transmission will use a little less, and XRS models will use a bit more, and all-wheel drive versions will probably use even more in real-world driving.

The basic components here, as you might expect, are solid, so you could rightly expect few troubles from a used Matrix. However, members of Matrix-centric web forums talk of a handful of issues.

Used Vehicle Review:  Toyota Matrix, 2003 2008  used car reviews toyota
2007 Toyota Matrix; photo by Grant Yoxon. Click image to enlarge

The accessory belt tensioner is a common trouble spot. Some owners recommend upgrading to an aftermarket part to avoid having to replace multiple Toyota-sourced parts.

As in the used Corolla review we published a few weeks ago, the mechanically-similar Matrix suffers from the same problem of faulty engine control units in some 2005 through 2008 models. These threads from the Corolla section at Toyota Nation (click here and here) and this one at Corolland.com give a good synopsis of the problem. This only affects Corollas with the base 1.8-litre engine (code-named 1ZZ-FE), and not the high-output 2ZZ-GE used in the Matrix XRS. This problem was covered in Canada by a recall.