Chipper little Toyota Matrix is fun to drive but weird to look at – USATODAY.com

18 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Chipper little Toyota Matrix is fun to drive but weird to look at – USATODAY.com

Those wily Toyota They made four out of one set of key components and gave the models personalities and looks #8212; one of the even is sold by a competitor.

the right way to do what the industry platform sharing #8212; not a few curves or just the nameplate to a corporate sibling (as you see, for in Chevrolet Cobalt/Pontiac G5 or Ford Milan).

In this case, talking about one set of building for the 2009 Toyota Corolla sedan (Test Drive, 21). Toyota Scion xB Drive, last June 15) and 2009 Toyota Matrix.

A Motors joint venture the New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, #8212; builds a Matrix GM sells as Pontiac Vibe shares the chassis, drivetrain and of the interior.

NUMMI also Corollas. Matrix is built at a factory in Canada that builds Corollas.

Toyota Matrix a version of Corolla and its sales as part of Corolla’s So what makes it different to warrant a look?

Well, appearance is a huge Nobody drifted over to the gas when the Corolla was being and chattered superlatives, as happened Matrix fuel stops.

To eyes, apparently, Matrix resembles a downsized Lexus RX There’s no connection, other Lexus is a Toyota brand, but a potential perk for Matrix #8212; a $20,000 compact nearsighted neighbors might for a $40,000 luxury SUV. beat that with a

Whether you see the resemblance is up to you. You find Matrix kind of and you’d get no argument here.

difference is a bit more interior #8212; people and cargo than Corolla. But if that’s deal, get a Scion xB, the space for Corolla-based machines. It’s cheaper, though you have to it’s hip to be square to like the xB.

One more point of differentiation. to explain given that the and powertrain are shared, but Matrix across feisty, fun, #8212; at least the $22,480, XRS test model did #8212; a Corolla with similar seemed pleasant, but not stimulating.

If you like that enjoyment though, Scion xB #8212; #8212; gives you more.

A key of the positive persona in all the Corolla-based is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. standard in the Scion, optional in the Matrix and Vibe, which a milder 1.8-liter four-banger What’s remarkable about the 2.4 is it’s been the drudge-duty in base Camrys where groan-prone and often unpleasant.

In the cars, it’s punchy, aurally pleasant and sufficiently to merge easily #8212; or to get quick trouble with wearing uniforms. And that be easy because the skinny and speedometer pointers are almost in daylight. You need night and instrument panel lighting to closely track the pointers.

The Camry accelerates slower the same engine, but that’s not the deal. Think of a person you like and one you do. That’s the kind of you notice driving the 2.4 engine in a vs. the Corolla-based machines.

In the XRS tester, the 2.4 was a sweet match the five-speed manual transmission. drivetrain was equally happy to 6,000 rpm between shifts or along at 20 mph in some intermediate Though it’s more these days, tuning an to handle yeoman and yee-hah with equal aplomb an art.

The 1.8, not tested, would be less satisfying, but has an appeal these days: mileage. It’s rated 27 to 30 per gallon in combined city-highway The 2.4 is rated 22 to 24.

The manual shifter is high, coming through the rather than sticking up the floor. Looks a tad odd, but ergonomically.

Matrix and Vibe all-wheel drive, which and xB don’t. The AWD is mated only to the engine and a four-speed automatic, not the manual offered with the 2.4 in models.

Matrix is a hatchback (so are xB and Vibe), Corolla is a sedan. Thus, is handier and aimed at sporty rather than the conservative in Corolla’s cross hairs. The car’s cargo area had bag hooks on the walls and a net to hold items against the floor.

out how owners will use things is a for auto engineers and planners, but crafted Matrix’s stuff pretty well.

If you like the way looks, you probably won’t much to dislike about the If you don’t warm to its mix of lines, and bulges, then the Pontiac Vibe, won’t seem either, and you might find delight in the Scion xB.

ABOUT THE TOYOTA MATRIX

What? hatchback version of plain-Jane sedan on the same new platform underpins ’09 Corolla, xB and Pontiac Vibe. Matrix front-wheel drive (FWD) or drive (AWD).

When? On sale since

Where? Manufactured at Cambridge, (Pontiac Vibe is made at a Motors-Toyota joint venture managed by Toyota, at Fremont, which also makes

Why? Corolla platform

How much? Base model at $16,850 with $660 AWD model at $21,060. Top-end XRS at Test car, well-equipped XRS manual transmission: $22,480.

How 60,000 a year.

How punchy? than adequate with 2.4-liter, four-cylinder rated 158 hp at rpm, 162 pounds-feet of torque at rpm. Base: 1.8-liter rated 132 hp at 6,000 rpm, 128 at 4,400.

Five-speed manual with FWD. AWD comes with 2.4-liter, four-speed AWD operates as FWD until fronts then sends up to 45% of power to

How lavish? OK for the price. Standard include: anti-lock brakes brake-assist and force distribution; side-impact and head-curtain air bags; air power steering, brakes, tilt/telescope steering column; stereo with input; defroster.

Stability and traction control on XRS, optional on others.

How A compact; 7 inches shorter a Corolla sedan. It’s inches long, 69.5 wide, 61 inches tall on wheelbase.

Passenger space 114 feet. Cargo space behind rear seat, with rear seat Weight: 3,065 to 3,360 Rated to tow 1,500 lbs. up to 850 lbs.

How thirsty? 1.8-liter rated 26 mpg in town, 32 highway, 28 25/31/27 with automatic. rated 21/28/24, with and FWD 21/29/24; with AWD 20/26/22. XRS manual test car showed 21 mpg in driving.

Tank holds gallons. Regular (87-octane) gas

Overall: Nice surprise.

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