2012 Toyota Matrix Review

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Consumer Reviews
2 Reviews
2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

The 2012 Toyota Matrix combines the frugality of the best-selling Corolla with a little more sportiness and versatility--but it still comes up a bit short in features.

The 2012 Toyota Matrix is closely related to the Corolla sedan, but the Matrix takes a different tack in terms of style and packaging--appealing to a somewhat younger, more active crowd and those who need more versatility.

Last year the Matrix was up for a mid-cycle refresh, but it amounted to some very minor appearance and trim changes. While Toyota had pitched the Matrix as more of a crossover in its first generation, the current Matrix has a lower sportier stance that's not all that much different from the Corolla from the front. Yet the Matrix's rather high-shouldered sides and prominent, thick rear pillar five it a very different look from all other angles. Inside, the instrument panel is a little swoopier and sportier in appearance, the tall-hatchback layout affords good interior space, and with the Matrix's versatile layout and seats that fold easily (and flat) to expand cargo space, you'll have no problem freeing up seating space for an especially large load of groceries.

The Matrix model lineup consists of 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. Between the two, we think most shoppers will be happy with the 1.8-liter, as the 2.4-liter is quite a bit thirstier--especially in all-wheel-drive (S AWD) form. A five-speed manual is standard with either engine, but the available automatic has only four speeds with the 1.8-liter (five with the 2.4-liter) which can make the smaller engine seem sluggish in some situations. All-wheel drive is only available on the S model, and even there, only with automatic. Fuel economy ranges from 26 mpg city, 32 highway for the base model with the manual down to 21/29 for the S AWD.

While the Matrix is very versatile, with the back seat folding fully flat, the seats themselves are a little less supportive than most would probably prefer. Ride quality is pretty good, but road noise can be an issue. Some might also find the rather narrow window openings at the back to severely impair visibility.

The Matrix has earned respectable safety ratings, with top 'good' ratings from the IIHS in frontal and side impact (the related Corolla sedan is a Top Safety Pick). Like nearly all other vehicles in this class, front side and side-curtain airbags are included, as are anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.

The Matrix is priced above the Corolla, but it isn't trying to be completely basic transportation in the same way, either. The base model comes with power windows and mirrors, air conditioning, and cruise control, while the S model adds fog lamps, keyless entry, and an upgraded sound system. A Sport Package is available on the S, and it includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and body skirting. But many shoppers will be disappointed to find out that a Bluetooth hands-free interface is only offered in the S model; step up to the Premium Package on S models and you get Bluetooth audio streaming, a USB input, and full iPod connectivity with a sound-system upgrade.
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October 20, 2016
2012 Toyota Matrix 5-Door Wagon Automatic S FWD (Natl)

Sold as a touring model but do not believe it for a second it is not capable

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I purchased my matrix to be an adventure touring car to haul two people bikes kyaks' roof box for skis and travel extended distances . It is a Canadian package sold as a touring model . It has the factory roof... + More »
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April 6, 2016
2012 Toyota Matrix 5-Door Wagon Automatic L FWD (SE)

Gooc car ,but the 1.8 L realy doesn't anny power for the hyway, just 5o comute from point a to point b around town, it's ok

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IT'S A REALY GOOD CAR, BUT I JUST CAN'T LIVE WHIT THE 1.8L. IT SRARES MY ON THE HYWAY WHEN YOU NEED TO PAST AN OTHER VEHICULE YOU ALMOST NEED AN APPOINTMENT AND I FIND IT DANGERUS.AND THAT WHIL MAKE ME GET... + More »
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July 4, 2015
For 2013 Toyota Matrix

I would buy a new one if they still made it.

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I love my Matrix. Its cool, its blue, it can seat 5 adults, carry lumber or a surfboard. Seats fold down, and I have actually been able to sleep in it. I wish they still made em, because I would be ready for a... + More »
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June 25, 2015
For 2013 Toyota Matrix

Economical sporty car aat good price

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Our Matrix is a neat little car with good handling.
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April 20, 2015
For 2011 Toyota Matrix

Very good, reliable and versatile vehicle.

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Bought this FWD model new from a dealer. A bit disappointed in its fuel economy (posted fuel economy numbers for new cars in Canada are fictitious) but the vehicle has performed well in every other respect. It... + More »
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December 6, 2015
For 2009 Toyota Matrix

Big disappointment

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I owned 2005 matrix and I thought the thing was bulletproof. Foolishly upgraded to a 2009 and I've been kicking myself ever cents. I have owned six Toyotas in my life. Two I hung onto for 10 years each.do I... + More »
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August 1, 2015
2009 Toyota Matrix 5-Door Wagon Manual FWD (Natl)

suited our needs easy to get into

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disappointed with quality. Back wheels had to be hammered off to change wheels. this was at the dealer and said was normal. Back brakes needed changing at 40M km then front brakes at 50M km. After brake change... + More »
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July 6, 2016
2007 Toyota Matrix 5-Door Wagon Manual STD (Natl)

Economical and reliable

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Aside from the original battery which died after 36 months, this car has been trouble free since we got it in March 2007. While aceleration is not it's biggest asset, it can hold its own. It's very nimble and... + More »
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November 14, 2016
2005 Toyota Matrix 5-Door Wagon STD Automatic (SE)

I love my matrix, and have over 180,000 miles on it.

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My matrix was great when I worked in home health care and when I needed to transport things like a dresser for the furniture business I started in retirement. It was perfect for the grandchildren as they grew... + More »
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November 13, 2015
For 2004 Toyota Matrix

I wish they still made them with a few improvements: side airbags, automatic, and all-wheel drive.

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I opted to buy this car because of its "green" rating. It has been and continues to be a great investment. Over the years though, I've gotten tired of shifting. And, I worry about not having side airbags. I... + More »
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