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To bring you this extensive review of the 2009 Toyota Matrix, the experienced auto enthusiasts at TheCarConnection.com consulted a wide range of published reviews. TheCarConnection.com's editors also included firsthand experience in this all-considered Bottom Line review.
The 2009 Toyota Matrix is a tall-hatchback version of the popular Toyota Corolla sedan and is sometimes called the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix; whichever name you want to use, it's been completely redesigned for 2009, with a new look, more standard safety features, and more power on tap from a new 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine.
The base engine is still an economical 1.8-liter four-cylinder, finessed to 132 horsepower. Both engines come with a standard five-speed manual or optional automatic, but the automatic has four gears with the 1.8-liter, five with the 2.4-liter. The Base model of the 2009 Toyota Matrix includes the 1.8-liter, but the S model and sporty XRS antes up to the 2.4-liter. There's also an all-wheel-drive S model, which includes the larger engine.
The 2.4-liter engine makes a substantial difference behind the wheel of the 2009 Toyota Matrix; it has noticeably more torque, making it a much better choice with automatic transmission. The 1.8-liter engine has enough pep with the manual transmission, and with the smaller engine, fuel economy is near the top of its class, at 26 mpg city, 32 highway.
Compared to the 2008 Matrix, the 2009 Toyota Matrix has a lower, sportier stance, though it keeps similar proportions; inside the seats are positioned a bit lower, and styling has been perked up with a matte-metallic treatment on the instrument panel.
The 2009 Toyota Matrix seats up to five people, theoretically, though only two adults will comfortably fit in the backseat. The rakish hatch impairs cargo space somewhat, but the folding seats and tall body afford quite a bit of cargo space. Ride comfort is a strong point; top XRS and AWD S models come with a fully independent rear suspension that may bring an even smoother ride without sacrificing handling.
Standard safety equipment on all 2009 Toyota Matrix wagons includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with active headrests and anti-lock brakes. Stability and traction control is standard on the top XRS model, but optional on the other versions. The Matrix earns five stars in side-impact protection for front occupants and four stars for rear occupants in the federal government's crash tests, and it's been tested by the insurance-funded IIHS to Good results in frontal offset and side impact tests but just Acceptable in rear impact.
All versions of the 2009 Toyota Matrix include power mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering, and an auxiliary input jack—items that aren't always standard on small cars. The S version includes power windows and locks, a useful 115-volt power outlet good for laptops, cruise control, and a flat-folding front passenger seat, along with a spruced-up appearance, and the XRS brings big 18-inch wheels and a strut-tower brace. A DVD navigation system with XM NavTraffic is a noteworthy new option.