2003 Toyota Matrix Photo
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If there’s such a thing as too many SUVs, Toyota will be the manufacturer that finds out first. Looking at their lineup of RAV4, 4Runner, Highlander, Sequoia and Land Cruiser, someone over there figured that there was room to squeeze in yet one more – and it’s the new 2003 Matrix that is crammed into that slot.

Toyota — with hair-splitting precision — actually calls the Matrix a “cross-over utility vehicle” (CUV), which basically describes a niche somewhere between Mazda’s Protégé5 sport wagon and Chrysler’s PT Cruiser. Who knew there was a niche there at all? The Matrix is designed to attract young buyers who want a sporty driving experience combined with the flexibility and usefulness of a compact tall wagon. Think of it as a Protégé5 with more room, or a PT Cruiser with high-tech zip in place of nostalgia styling. Or don’t think at all – what do we care?

A full half dozen SUVs – will Toyota never stop?

Fun with fusion

The Matrix arrives in Toyota showrooms this February beside a new 2003 Corolla sedan with which it shares most of its mechanical components and a production line in Cambridge, Ont. Surprisingly, the Matrix will not be sold in Japan, though a right-hand drive version of its near twin, the California-built Pontiac Vibe, will be exported there as the Toyota Voltz. Like so many of Toyota’s current North America products, the Matrix is built in America and designed specifically for America tastes.

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