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.
Handling is a step above that of the Corolla sedan, due to a somewhat firmer suspension calibration, but it's definitely no hot hatch. the steering also tends to be somewhat dull and light—and that's a key attribute that just doesn't make the Matrix much fun to drive.