Late in the model year, a modestly refreshed 2011 Toyota Matrix will arrive. But based on the extent of the changes we anticipate, there are no groundbreaking feature introductions or new models—or even a dramatically changed exterior—so don't hesitate to grab a remaining 2010 Matrix.
While Toyota hasn't yet revealed details other than pricing and specs for the new Matrix, the most extensive changes to the Matrix are expected at the front and rear; just like the Corolla sedan with which it's related, the Matrix will likely get a revised grille, air dam, and bumper fascias, along with new lighting front and rear. Inside, trims are expected to be spruced up, though the basics of the cabin design won't be changed.
While with the first generation of the Matrix Toyota was going for more of a crossover look, the second-generation Matrix that went on sale as an early 2009 model picked up a lower, sportier stance, along with a lower seating position more like than of the Corolla sedan. The tall-hatchback layout affords good interior space, with a versatile layout and seats that fold easily to expand cargo space. Front seats aren't the most comfortable for long trips, but the back seat is large enough for two adults if you're going across town—though three will be a pinch because of width. Ride quality is pretty good, but road noise can be an issue.
The model lineup will be simplified down to base and S models, with base models getting a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and S models stepping up to a 158-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual is standard with either engine, but the available automatic has four speeds with the 1.8-liter, five with the 2.4-liter. All-wheel drive is available on the S, but only with automatic. Our editors have found the base Matrix to be the pick of the two, as it moves well enough while getting significantly better mileage. Fuel economy ranges from 26 mpg city, 32 highway for the base model with the manual down to 21/29 for the S AWD.
Overall, the Matrix isn't aiming to be basic transportation like the Corolla; even the base model comes with power windows and mirrors, air conditioning, and cruise control. The S model adds fog lamps, keyless entry, and an upgraded sound system. The sportiest XRS model has been dropped, but a Sport Package will bring some of those extras. Bluetooth is only offered as a port-installed, aftermarket-like accessory on the 2010 Matrix, so we anticipate better integration as well.
Last year the entire Matrix line improved its safety offerings with electronic stability control made standard across the line.
Check back here for a full review of the 2011 Toyota Matrix as soon as final details are released.