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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Still isn't as engaging to drive as a Mazda 3 or the recently introduced Mini Cooper Clubman
Adequate in the power department, but she's not going to win any Most Zippy awards
Don't be fooled by the slick curves and sporty appearance of the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix; TheCarConnection.com's research shows that this hatchback, while practical, is far from the most entertaining daily driver.
The 2009 Toyota Matrix lineup is available with two engines, though neither offers a very high power threshold. Motor Trend reports that the "Scion xD's 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine is standard, and the xB's 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter is optional, except that it's standard in the AWD S." Reviews of both engines are average, although the more powerful 2.4-liter engine is clearly the favorite among reviewers. With the 2.4-liter version, 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." 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." While the smaller engine is a bit more economical, Edmunds advises that "once you've tried the 2.4-liter engine, it might be hard to go back" to the 1.8-liter that Cars.com calls "a smooth, if unexciting, powertrain."
In addition to the choice of engine options, the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix offers up a few different transmission options. Cars.com points out that the base version of the Toyota 2009 Matrix comes with either a "5-speed [manual] or 4-speed auto," while the 2WD S and XRS variants get either a "5-speed [manual] or 5-speed auto." For the 2009 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 four-speed automatic transmission. ConsumerGuide reports that 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 ." Despite the extra weight from the AWD system, ConsumerGuide tests show that "acceleration is little different in the AWD S."
Despite the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix's small size and low-displacement engine, reviewers are disappointed with the overall fuel economy of this Toyota 2009 model. MotherProof notes that the 2009 Toyota 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 official EPA estimates for the 2009 Toyota Matrix are 21 mpg city and 28 highway for the manual-transmission 2.4, while the 2WD with the automatic gets a rating of 21/29 mpg. The AWD version of the 2.4-liter engine is by far the least frugal of the bunch, returning just 20 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway. For those interested in maximizing their fuel economy, the 1.8-liter engine is rated at 25/31 mpg with the automatic and 26/32 mpg with the manual.
It's hard to find a performance consensus among professional reviews of the 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix; while Motor Trend calls the Matrix "more fun to drive than either Scion or the Corolla, zipping around corners with controlled body roll," ConsumerGuide reports that "fast cornering triggers noseplow and body lean." Ride quality also receives vastly different reviews from different sources, with Cars.com noting that "the ride becomes a bit choppy over bumpy pavement," while Edmunds claims "the ride is quiet and refined." The one performance area that does earn unanimous praise is in braking, where reviewers agree with Cars.com's assessment that the "response is strong, and ABS never kicks in prematurely."
Fuel economy is disappointing for the small 2009 Toyota Corolla Matrix lineup, but performance is perky enough.