2010 Toyota Matrix Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 8, 2009

Not quite a utility vehicle, but a little more robust than a no-frills hatchback, the 2010 Toyota Matrix offers an appealing combination of frugality and versatility.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Toyota Matrix and combines firsthand driving impressions with editors' recommendations in this definitive Bottom Line. Experts at TheCarConnection.com have also looked to a range of published reviews to present highlights in a Full Review.

The 2010 Toyota Matrix is essentially a tall hatchback version of the Corolla sedan; though it's shorter and a bit easier to park, it has an interior that's more easily reconfigured for larger cargo items. Sometimes called the Toyota Corolla Matrix, it comes with all the qualities that make the Corolla sedan appealing, including an affordable price, good fuel economy, and a reasonably comfortable ride. For 2010, the Matrix jumps up with respect to safety, with electronic stability newly standard on the model line.

With its recent redesign, as an early 2009 model, the Matrix picked up a lower, sportier stance, yet retained similar proportions to the previous version. Overall, it flows a little more, thanks to a more contoured roofline and a number of sculpted details. The seating position is a little lower, and interior styling has been given more matte-metallic trim, though the overall effect is simple and unmistakably Toyota.

Base models of the 2010 Toyota Matrix have a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, while S and XRS models get a larger 2.4-liter engine, making 158 horsepower. The 1.8-liter has plenty of pep with the manual transmission, but the automatic has only four gears with the 1.8-liter (five with the 2.4), for those who must have automatic, the 2.4-liter is the way to go. In TheCarConnection.com's opinion, the 1.8-liter holds enough of a fuel economy advantage to make it the clear choice between the two with a manual, with ratings as high as 26 mpg city, 32 highway, versus as low as 20/26 mpg with the automatic and all-wheel drive. Opt for that all-wheel-drive system on the S model and you'll downgrade to the four-speed auto.

Review continues below

Fitting five adults in the 2010 Toyota Matrix is a stretch; it just doesn't have enough shoulder space to fit three people across. But there's decent legroom and plenty of headroom. Fold either or both portions of the split rear seatback forward and you'll find generous room for stuff, but with the seatbacks up in place, there's not a lot of grocery space. Overall, the Matrix has a good ride, with less of the pitchiness seen in the last-generation model; top XRS and AWD S models come with a fully independent rear suspension that may bring an even smoother ride without sacrificing handling. However, across the line, road noise can be an issue; a surprising amount of boominess can enter the cabin from rough pavement.

Safety is quite strong for the 2010 Matrix. Stability and traction control are newly standard for 2010, and dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with active headrests and anti-lock brakes, remain on all models. Crash-test ratings are good but not class-leading; in federal testing, the Matrix earns four- and five-star ratings for side impact but five stars for frontal impact. Results are also mixed from the insurance-funded IIHS; in that group's testing, it gets just "acceptable" ratings in seat-based rear-impact tests but "good" results in frontal offset and side impact.

Toyota has been reasonably generous with standard features on the 2010 Toyota Matrix. Power mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering, and an auxiliary input jack—items that aren't always standard on small cars—are standard on the base model. The S upgrades to power windows and locks, a useful 115-volt power outlet good for laptops, cruise control, and a flat-folding front passenger seat, plus other dress-ups. Additionally, the sportiest XRS gets a strut-tower brace for improved handling, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels. At the top of the range, a DVD-based navigation system with XM NavTraffic is available.

8

2010 Toyota Matrix

Styling

Sporty exterior styling yields to a very practical, straightforward interior in the 2010 Toyota Matrix.

With its recent redesign, as an early 2009 model, the Matrix was given a lower, sportier stance, yet similar proportions to the previous version. Overall, it flows a little more, thanks to a more contoured roofline and a number of sculpted details.

Most reviewers approve of the look, which Motor Trend says is "self-described as a 'sport/utility with coupelike design.'" MotherProof reviewers are also fond of the appearance, commenting that it "looks as if some thought actually went into the design." Car and Driver doesn't like the Matrix's design as much, remarking that "the XRS does look sharper, thanks to the fitment of a strut-tower brace and an independent rear suspension, but somehow the overall look comes off as less interesting than before."

The seating position of the 2010 Toyota Matrix is a little lower, and interior styling gets more matte-metallic trim, though the overall effect is simple and unmistakably Toyota. The interior scores pretty well with reviewers. Edmunds approves of the "ergonomic cabin layout" that "continues to offer a sportier ambience than the Corolla," while MotherProof approves of the simple instrument panel layout. On the positive side, ConsumerGuide likes the "large, accessible dials" for the climate control.

ConsumerGuide voices one criticism with the interior design, warning that "indistinct markings on the speedometer sometimes require a second look away from the road," and although "the center portion of the dashboard is canted toward the driver," it is "not enough to prevent outside light from washing out the radio display."

7

2010 Toyota Matrix

Performance

The 2010 Toyota Matrix performs reasonably well, though fuel economy isn't much better than that of larger crossover utes.

Base models of the 2010 Toyota Matrix have a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, while S and XRS models get a larger 2.4-liter engine, making 158 horsepower. The 1.8-liter has plenty of pep with the manual transmission, but the automatic has only four gears with the 1.8-liter (five with the 2.4). For those who must have automatic, the 2.4-liter is the way to go. In TheCarConnection.com's opinion, the 1.8-liter holds enough of a fuel economy advantage to make it the clear choice between the two with a manual, with ratings as high as 26 mpg city, 32 highway, versus as low as 20/26 mpg with the automatic and all-wheel drive. Opt for that all-wheel-drive system on the S model and you'll downgrade to the four-speed auto.

Reviews of both engines are average, although the more powerful 2.4-liter engine is clearly the favorite among reviewers. Edmunds contends the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix's 1.8-liter powerplant feels a little pokey accelerating off the line, but "the engine remains smooth all the way to its power peak." However, they go on to say that "once you've tried the 2.4-liter engine, it might be hard to go back." Cars.com calls the 1.8-liter "a smooth, if unexciting, powertrain." MotherProof attests that this Toyota 2009 hatchback "kept up with traffic" and is "adequate in the power department, but she's not going to win any Most Zippy awards." ConsumerGuide agrees, finding that the "S and XRS have adequate acceleration with the automatic transmission, though liberal use of the throttle is required for merging and passing maneuvers."

Overall, ConsumerGuide reports, the "manual-transmission versions are noticeably livelier," while Cars.com raves that "the five-speed manual has a solid, hefty feel" with "throws [that] feel even more precise than the Mazda [3]."

For the Toyota Matrix, Edmunds observes that "all-wheel drive is once again an option," though only on the S model. Selecting the AWD S automatically earns you a downgrade to the four-speed automatic transmission, but it's not as bad as it sounds. Despite the extra weight from the AWD system, ConsumerGuide tests show that "acceleration is little different in the AWD S."

The 2010 Toyota Matrix is a small vehicle with four-cylinder engines, so a number of reviewers express their disappointment with the Matrix's fuel economy ratings, which rank as low as 20 mpg city. MotherProof notes that the Matrix "wasn't as fuel-efficient...or cost-effective as I expected," and Edmunds adds that the Matrix suffers from "mediocre gas mileage with the 2.4-liter engine." The 1.8-liter engine is the choice for those who want to use the least fuel, with 25/31 mpg with the automatic and 26/32 mpg with the manual.

Several sources point to good braking ability in the Matrix, with Cars.com saying that "response is strong, and ABS never kicks in prematurely."

Reviewers are split on how the 2010 Matrix handles. MSN Autos declares that the Matrix is fun to drive, noting its "responsive steering and impressive handling." Meanwhile, ConsumerGuide reports that "fast cornering triggers noseplow and body lean," while Motor Trend calls the Matrix "more fun to drive than either Scion or the Corolla, zipping around corners with controlled body roll." TheCarConnection.com's impression is somewhere in the middle; we'd hardly call the Matrix's handling zippy, but it's not sluggish.

8

2010 Toyota Matrix

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Toyota Matrix has a roomy, useful interior layout, though materials and overall refinement aren't so great.

Fitting five adults in the 2010 Toyota Matrix is a stretch; it just doesn't have enough shoulder space to fit three people across, but there's decent legroom and plenty of headroom. Edmunds verifies that the bench is actually an "adult-friendly backseat," and Cars.com reports that the "front sport seats and a three-person bench seat give the [2009 Toyota] Matrix room for up to five people."

The Toyota Corolla Matrix "makes good use of its tall design by furnishing generous headroom," according to ConsumerGuide, and the "tilt and telescopic steering column and driver-seat height adjuster are comfort-enhancing standard features." Edmunds agrees with that assessment of the new steering column, reporting "the driving position is vastly improved in the '09 model, with credit going to the new telescoping steering wheel and increased seat-track travel."

Fold either or both portions of the split rear seatback forward and you'll find generous space for stuff, but with the 60/40-split seatbacks up in place, there's not a lot of grocery space. MotherProof does say that the cargo space is "a decent, day-to-day size, and there are grocery hooks in the back," while ConsumerGuide points out that the "front passenger seat folds flat on all but the base model for cargo-carrying versatility." ConsumerGuide finds that the "interior storage consists of a small glovebox, center console, and door pockets." Edmunds states "there are 19.8 cubic feet of luggage capacity behind the rear seats and a seats-down volume of 61.5 cubes."

The look and feel of the materials used in the 2010 Toyota Matrix is a subject of some complaint. ConsumerGuide notes "all Matrix models look built to price" with a "notable lack of padded surfaces." They also say "few materials feel substantial, and the doors close with a tinny clang." Cars.com contends the wrap-around look and surface textures "look rich from any distance," the "gauges and stereo controls have first-rate quality," and "panel fit is generally excellent," but all these positives only serve to accent clunky climate control knobs and a ceiling that's "a vast canopy of mouse fur."

Overall, the Matrix has a good ride, with less of the pitchiness exhibited by the last-generation model; top XRS and AWD S models come with a fully independent rear suspension that may bring an even smoother ride without sacrificing handling. However, across the line, road noise can be an issue; a surprising amount of boominess can enter the cabin from rough pavement. ConsumerGuide reviewers report that the "2.4-liter engine is raspy while accelerating," and "wind rush and road noise rise markedly at highway speeds on all models." Cars.com also notes that "at highway speeds, road and wind noise are considerable."

8

2010 Toyota Matrix

Safety

With standard electronic stability control, the 2010 Toyota Matrix now has a very strong set of safety features, but crash tests don't show it to be among the best.

Safety is quite strong for the 2010 Matrix. Stability and traction control are newly standard for 2010, and dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with active headrests and anti-lock brakes, remain on all models.

Crash-test ratings are good but not class-leading; in federal testing, the Matrix earns four- and five-star ratings for side impact but five stars for frontal impact. Results are also mixed from the insurance-funded IIHS; in that group's testing, it gets just "acceptable" ratings in seat-based rear-impact tests but "good" results in frontal offset and side impact.

If you're shopping the 2010 Toyota Corolla Matrix against other small cars, you'll find a number of smaller features that aren't included in all the vehicles. For instance, Cars.com notes that "all five seats have head restraints, and active head restraints are standard up front."

Outward visibility might be somewhat frustrating in the 2010 Matrix, depending on the height of the driver. ConsumerGuide says that "visibility is poor to the rear corners."

7

2010 Toyota Matrix

Features

The 2010 Toyota Corolla does come with the basics, but it lacks a lot of the tech features that are increasingly becoming must-haves.

Toyota is reasonably generous with standard features on the 2010 Toyota Matrix, but don't expect anything close to what you'd find in a luxury vehicle.

Standard features on the 2010 Matrix vary considerably according to trim level. Power mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering, and an auxiliary input jack—items that aren't always standard on small cars—are standard on the base model.

Perhaps more noteworthy than what's included is what doesn't come standard on the base model of the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix; as Edmunds points out, "cruise control, keyless entry and power windows and locks are optional on this version."

The S upgrades to power windows and locks, a useful 115-volt power outlet good for laptops, cruise control, and a flat-folding front passenger seat, plus other dress-ups. The sportiest XRS gets a strut-tower brace for improved handling, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels.

A number of options are available, especially on the S and XRS versions. Among them, the DVD-based navigation system with XM NavTraffic will likely be one of the most sought-after. Furthermore, Edmunds reports that the options list for the S and XRS includes a "JBL sound system," which, as stated by Cars.com, offers "decent sound, but it lacks a USB port for iPod integration, which Toyota says isn't even available as a dealer accessory." The Scion xB that's often sold at the same dealerships "has an iPod port standard," mentions Cars.com.

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$5,995 - $12,000
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 7.0
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2010 Toyota Matrix against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Toyota Matrix?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used