Toyota's Matrix gets a redesign for the 2009 model year that gives the hatchback a new look inside and outside, plus a choice of two four-cylinder engines. Available in February 2008, Matrix competitors include the Kia Spectra5, the Mazda3 and the related Pontiac Vibe.
The new Matrix strikes a sportier stance than its predecessor thanks to an aggressive-looking front end that features a bulging hood, thin wraparound headlights and a small trapezoidal grille. Smooth body sides give the Matrix a modern appearance, and the hatchback's forward-swept D-pillars enhance the car's sporty shape.
Three trim levels — base, S and XRS — are offered, and the latter two have front and rear lower spoilers. The XRS also has a liftgate spoiler. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard, and 17- and 18-inch aluminum rims are available.
Front sport seats and a three-person bench seat give the Matrix room for up to five people. The 60/40-split backseat can fold down when more cargo room is needed.
Standard features include power mirrors, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and intermittent windshield wipers. Choose the S model and you get power windows and locks, cruise control, a fold-flat front passenger seat, keyless entry and a CD stereo. The XRS adds a leather-trimmed steering wheel with radio controls. A navigation system is optional.
Under the Hood
The standard engine in the Matrix is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 132 horsepower. With this engine, buyers have a choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
The optional 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 158 hp. A five-speed manual, four-speed automatic and five-speed automatic are offered.
S trim levels can have all-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive.
Standard features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. An electronic stability system is optional.
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