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STYLING | 8 out of 10
Aesthetically, the Matrix has very little Corolla left in its wedge-shape profile and tall, narrow stance.
a towering edifice of a dashboard, trimmed with swaths of gray metallic plastic that stretch upward along both sides of the gauge cluster to end in sharp points that emphasize the control panel’s height
a tall yet compact wagon, with a dash of sporty style thrown in to give this practical vehicle some "cool" factor
The Toyota Matrix stands out for its sporty silhouette, rakish roofline, and a handsome, somewhat aggressive stance, but it's not nearly as attractive or appealing inside.
While the Matrix has been pitched as more of a crossover in its first generation, the current second-generation version has been given a lower, sportier look, with less differentiation from the Corolla on which it's based. It's not much different than the Corolla from the front, yet the Matrix's rather high-shouldered sides and prominent, thick rear pillar give it a very different look from all other angles. The roof is almost coupe-like, and there are just a few hints of utility vehicles—around the rear fascia—but otherwise it's a good-looking hatchback.
It could be argued that the instrument panel is a little swoopier and sportier in appearance, compared to some other small cars, but it also looks somewhat drab, plain, and outdated—for those who are sick of plasticky, matte-metallic surfaces, that is (the Matrix has lots of that). Still, with its large rotary controls for climate control and middle portion of the dash canted slightly toward the driver, it has a simple, somewhat sporty appeal that's a little more adventurous than the related Corolla.
The Matrix still looks quite sporty on the outside, but inside it's standard small-car material, circa 2005.