By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Kelsey Mays walks you through the 2009 Toyota Matrix. It competes with the Mazda3 and Pontiac Vibe.
(rock music) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for Cars.com, and this is the redesigned 2009 Toyota Matrix.
Now this car, the Prius Hybrid and the FJ Cruiser, are probably about as adventurous as you're gonna see Toyota get with styling, at least without calling the car a Scion. Definitely this car, like the previous Matrix, has a roof line that sort of ascends to a point somewhere over the front seat. Kind of descends toward the rear. The flared fenders, the spread-wide headlights, and the giant lower air dam aren't for your uncle who drives a Camry, unless he buys into the utility of the whole package. So let's start there. Now, open the hatch, and you'll notice that the cargo floor has this sort of hardened plastic surface, along with rubberized strips, to give your cargo some traction. These second-row seats fold down pretty easily, and there's a real flat, continuous load floor. Total cargo volume in here is on par with boxier hatchbacks like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Chevy HHR. Now the Matrix also has a fold-flat front passenger seat. Here, it's got a hard plastic backing, and as you can see, it really allows you to put in longer items. Now, in the front seats, the utility story continues. You've got a two-pronged household outlet. This area here, where the cupholders are, actually has removable partitions. When you take 'em out, there's kind of a trough you can store some stuff in. The glove compartment has a pretty large lower area. There's also this upper cubby here, which just happens to be big enough for the owner's manual. Now overall, the interior quality is okay. It's not exceptional. You'll notice that the dashboard has very good fit and finish. The close-outs, for where the glove compartment closes, and the steering wheel hub meets the rim, those are pretty tight. You don't notice any gaps there. But all the plastics, even those around the doors, are pretty hard to the touch. And some of these center controls here feel a little bit clunky. One other thing you'll wanna note, also, is the blind spot. The rear pillar there is really large and the rear window isn't that large itself. So changing lanes can be a little bit dicey. At the very least, the center seatbelt in back is anchored in the seat and not in the ceiling, and so it won't dangle in your rearview mirror. Now despite the sloping roof line, it's actually pretty easy to get in. You don't have to duck your head down at all. I've got plenty of headroom, plenty of leg room, and there's no big center hump here to crowd your foot space. Amenities are a little bit sparse. A Mazda 3 hatchback, for example, has a center armrest that comes down here. In this car, you're gonna have to bring a few phone books. Now, the Matrix has a lotta things going for it, but there's one car that can really throw a wrench in the spokes, and that is Toyota's own Scion xB. It's got a lot more cargo room, a lot more standard features, and it starts at about the same price as a completely stripped-down Matrix. Now, the xB doesn't have hardcore utility like this plastic floor, and some people think it looks like driving a toaster on wheels. So if you're looking for more mainstream styling, and in some areas, a sportier driving experience, you might still go with the Matrix. But make no mistake, this time around, the Matrix faces more home-grown competition than before. <v Narrator>For additional information on this car or any other, go to Cars.com and our blog, "KickingTires".