The 2013 Toyota Matrix is offered in base and S models; and while the stronger of the two packs a rather large 2.4-liter four and sportier suspension, there's nothing all that scorching about the driving experience in either case.
Base models come with a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which we tend to recommend over the S models, which get that larger 158-hp engine. The 2.4-liter is quite a bit thirstier—especially in all-wheel-drive (S AWD) form—and when you either get all-wheel drive or the base 1.8-liter you're saddled with an old-tech four-speed automatic (S models do get a better five-speed automatic). A five-speed manual is standard with either engine, and it's a light, willing combination.
By the looks of the Matrix, you might expect it to handle a bit better than the Corolla sedan. It does, due to a suspension that's tuned just a half-step firmer than that of the Corolla sedan, but it's definitely no hot hatch. With steering that feels light and dull, there's just not all that much fun to be extracted here.
All-wheel-drive models get a rear double-wishbone suspension arrangement in place of the other cars' torsion-beam setup, but that doesn't have the more enthusiastic feel it might suggest, either.