Compact car; Built in Canada
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,000 – $18,000*

2009 Toyota Matrix Front

2009 Toyota Matrix Rear

2009 Toyota Matrix Interior

2009 Toyota Matrix Profile

  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Maneuverability
  • Instruments/controls
  • Interior materials

Available all-wheel drive and sporty S and XRS models give Matrix a dimension absent from rivals such as the Mazda 3 and Nissan Versa. Young buyers who are Matrix’s target audience might consider the odd interior shapes hip and the low-budget cabin decor a non-issue. They’re also apt to find this small wagon easy to drive and roomy enough for friends and belongings. Best value is the front-drive S model, for its blend of comfort and power. Still, more refined compacts and hatchbacks can be found out there for a comparable price.


Styling was only mildly altered and dimensions did not change when Toyota redesigned its Matrix for 2009, but the compact wagon gained power. Like the previous (2003-2008) generation Matrix, this was essentially a tall-body wagon version of Toyota’s Corolla compact sedan, which also was redesigned for 2009. As before, too, Matrix shared its basic design with the Pontiac Vibe. Three Matrix models were available, each with a four-cylinder engine. The Base model had a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder. S and sporty XRS models held a 2.4-liter engine that produced 158 horsepower. All models came with standard front-wheel drive; the S was available with all-wheel drive as an alternative. The AWD Matrix S came only with a four-speed automatic transmission. Others could have either five-speed manual shift or automatic: four-speed for the smaller engine, and either four- or five-speed for the 2.4-liter. All-wheel-drive S and XRS models had an independent rear suspension. The XRS also had 18-inch wheels versus the others’ 16-inchers, plus different suspension tuning and exterior trim. Standard safety features on all models included antilock brakes, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. Traction control and an antiskid system were standard only on the XRS, but optional for other models. All had a tilt/telescopic steering column and split-folding rear seatbacks. A navigation system was optional. Matrix rivals included the Chevrolet HHR, Mazda 3, and Nissan Versa.

Yearly Updates

2010 Matrix
More standard safety features went into 2010 models. Previously optional on all but the XRS, traction control and an antiskid system now were standard on across the board.
2011 Matrix
The 2011 Toyota Matrix lineup lost its sporty variant, the XRS.
2012 Matrix
The 2012 Toyota Matrix saw only minor changes.
2013 Matrix
For 2013, Matrix had a slightly revised model lineup. The new L trim level replaced the previous year’s Base. In the process, some formerly optional and unavailable equipment became standard, including a fold-flat front-passenger seat, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, USB port, satellite radio, and Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link. Equipment for the uplevel S model was unchanged.


transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Two engines have been available under Matrix hoods. Base models use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 132 horsepower, with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. S and XRS models hold a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower, teamed with a five-speed manual, four-speed automatic (only on AWD S model), or five-speed automatic transmission. All Matrix models except the AWD S have front-wheel drive.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 128
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 128
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


Road Test

S and XRS models deliver adequate acceleration with the automatic transmission, though liberal use of the gas pedal is required for merging and passing maneuvers. Manual-transmission versions are not noticeably livelier. Though heavier, acceleration is little different in the AWD S. All 2.4-liter models suffer from a touchy throttle that makes smooth launches from a stop difficult.

Fuel economy is a plus point. A test S model with manual transmission averaged 27.2 mpg in mostly highway driving, and an automatic S averaged 26.7 mpg with similar usage. An extended-use AWD S averaged 23.5 mpg. Each Matrix uses regular-grade gasoline.

Matrix absorbs small pavement imperfections well, though the ride gets stiff over sharp bumps, even with its 16-inch wheels. S and XRS models are choppy over sharp bumps. AWD S and XRS models, more than front-drive versions, suffer some jiggle over patchy pavement and freeway expansion breaks.

Expect fine around-town maneuverability, but these tall wagons are more prone to crosswind wander at highway speeds than lower-built small cars. No model has linear steering feel in turns. Fast cornering triggers noseplow and body lean in versions equipped with 16-inch tires-even with all-wheel drive. Grip and balance are sharper in the XRS. Braking control and pedal feel are fine for the class.

Toyota’s 2.4-liter engine is raspy while accelerating, though it relaxes at highway speeds. Wind rush and road noise rise markedly at highway speeds on all models, ranking as excessive even for a wagon.

Gauges are brightly lit, but indistinct markings on the speedometer sometimes require a second look away from the road. The center portion of the dashboard is canted toward the driver, but not enough to prevent outside light from washing out the radio display. Climate controls are large, accessible dials.

All Matrix models look built to a price. Padded surfaces are virtually non-existent; even the front center armrest is uncushioned plastic. Many panels have a reasonably attractive molded-in grain, but the dashboard is dominated by smooth, silver-painted plastic that looks and feels cheap. Few materials feel substantial, and the doors close with a tinny clang. An extended-use AWD S suffered from some misaligned interior panels and a number of intermittent interior squeaks and rattles. Other test models appeared to be built well, suffering no such imperfections.

Toyota said the Matrix dashboard was shaped to impart a cockpit-style feel, but that choice dictated a wide center console that intrudes on driver knee space. Otherwise, Matrix makes fine use of its tall design by furnishing generous headroom. Legroom is limited for taller drivers, due to lack of sufficient rearward seat travel. The tilt-and-telescopic steering column and driver-seat height adjuster are comfort-enhancing standard features, though the tall doors and tapered roofline impart a slightly closed-in feel. Visibility is poor to the rear corners.

Rear-seat legroom is sufficient for two large adults, but knee clearance gets tight with front seatbacks reclined. Headroom is generous for six-footers, but the back seat is a bit too firm to be really comfortable. Doors could open wider and need broader thresholds, but the tall body minimizes stooping for entry and exit.

For cargo-carrying versatility, the front passenger seat folds flat on all but the base model. So does the split rear seat. Cargo space is fine overall, given Matrix’s exterior size. The cargo floor is covered in plastic that, while durable-looking, allows items to slide easily. Interior storage consists of a small glovebox, center console, and door pockets. Matrix’s dashboard design precludes any storage space in the front part of the console.


Model Tested: 2010 Toyota Matrix S w/auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 5

Total: 52


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
102.4 171.9 69.5 61.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
61.5 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.5 39.3 41.6 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Matrix 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: Coolant leaks from the front area of the 4-cylinder engine due to water pump failure and is often accompanied by rubbing or screeching noises. An improved pump is available. (2009-10)
Engine noise
Description: The engine on hybrid vehicles may rattle for less than two seconds after cold soak due to a problem with the camshaft, which will be replaced. (2009-10)
Engine stalling
Description: The engine may not crank with the gear selector in park, but may work when in neutral due to a faulty park/neutral switch. (2009-10)
Vehicle noise
Description: A knocking noise when turning is caused by a problem with the intermediate axle shaft. An improved replacement will be installed. (2009-10)
Entertainment problems
Description: The satellite radio system may malfunction, but return to normal if the key is turned off and on, requiring an updated receiver. (2009-10)

Recall History

2009 Matrix
Description: Power window master switch assemblies may malfunction and overheat.
2009-10 w/ 1.8-liter engine
Description: For certain vehicles sold in specified states, when driving under unique conditions in extremely low ambient temperatures, intake manifold suction port for brake vacuum can become locked due to freezing of condensation; could lead to increased stopping distance.
Description: Sliding surface of friction lever inside accelerator-pedal sensor assembly may become smooth; if condensation occurs, as from heater operation when pedal assembly is cold, friction may increase, making pedal harder to depress, slower to turn, or possibly even stuck in partially depressed position.
Description: Accelerator pedal in some vehicles could stick in wide-open position, due to being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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