2011 Toyota Matrix Expert Review

You'll Like The 2011 Toyota Matrix If...

Some think they have to sacrifice driving fun and sporty good looks to get an affordable and fuel-efficient car. The 2011 Toyota Matrix happily proves them wrong.

You May Not Like The 2011 Toyota Matrix If...

The 2011 Toyota Matrix is not big on power or ground clearance, so if you need a vehicle that can carry heavy loads or venture off-road, you might be happier in a compact SUV.

What's New

Changes to the 2011 Toyota Matrix include new wheel designs, a revised interior, the addition of Toyota's Smart Stop technology, and a significant increase in equipment on the base model. The XRS trim has been dropped.

Interior Features

Sporty and practical rarely go together, but the two find a home in the 2011 Toyota Matrix. A flat-folding front passenger seat on the up-level Matrix S helps maximize the Matrix's cargo hauling ability. When the vehicle is parked, the forward-folding front passenger seatback can be used as, among other things, a desk for a computer. Front and rear legroom is about average for this class, but the Matrix's front seats sit up higher than most compact cars, giving occupants a good view of the road ahead. When not hauling people or pets, the Matrix's split-folding rear seats can be lowered to form a solid, level loading floor. The Toyota Matrix S also features a 115-volt outlet that allows devices that use household current (such as a computer) to be powered without the need for an AC converter.

Exterior Features

Although it's classified as a small wagon, the 2011 Toyota Matrix doesn't look boring or utilitarian. Its sharply angled front end, swept up beltline and blacked-out, wrap-around D-pillar glass blend together to form one of the most sporty and youthful models in Toyota's lineup. The up-level Matrix S trim enhances the vehicle's good looks with an underbody front spoiler, a rear roof spoiler, a blacked-out rear diffuser, and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. All Matrix models include color-keyed, heated side mirrors, a rear-window wiper, and daytime running lights.

Driving Impressions

The 2011 Toyota Matrix and Matrix S share a common suspension that delivers responsive handling and a relatively comfortable ride. An electric-assisted power steering unit replaces the traditional belt-driven hydraulic setup, helping the engine to conserve power and save fuel. When it comes to performance, however, the two trims could not be more different. The base car's 132-horsepower engine provides adequate power, but the Matrix S's 158-horsepower engine is notably better for merging onto fast-moving freeways, while also providing stout off-the-line acceleration. Unless you regularly encounter snowy roads, the all-wheel-drive option is not worth the cost and extra weight.

Pricing Notes

The 2011 Toyota Matrix Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at just over $19,000 when equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Opting for the Matrix S with all-wheel drive brings the price closer to $22,000. With the Sport and Premium packages added, the Matrix S tops out right around $25,000. To see what consumers are actually paying for this vehicle in your area, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price before you begin negotiations. As for resale, we expect the Matrix to hold a good portion of its value over a five-year period, topping the Suzuki SX4, Chevrolet HHR and Mazda Mazda3 hatchback, equaling the Kia Soul, and falling slightly lower than the Nissan Versa.

Notable Equipment

The 2011 Toyota Matrix comes in two trim levels: Matrix and the Matrix S. Both have four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, and front, front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags. Toyota's Smart Stop Technology cuts engine power if the driver simultaneously presses both the accelerator and brake pedals. The base Matrix has a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, and returns 32 miles per gallon on the highway, while the 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder in the Matrix S 29 miles per gallon on the highway. All models include power windows, power door locks, heated power exterior mirrors, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The standard auto system is an AM/FM/CD unit that features four speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, and an auxiliary audio input jack. The Matrix S comes with 17-inch wheels, front fog lamps, silver interior trim, a 115-volt AC outlet, remote keyless entry, and a six-speaker stereo.

Notable Options

The base 2011 Toyota Matrix can be equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and the Sport package, which adds front fog lights, and front and rear spoilers. The Matrix S can be had with all-wheel drive, and an enhanced Sport Package (rear roof spoiler and unique 17-inch alloy wheels). Also available is the Premium Package, which includes Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Bluetooth streaming audio, a power sunroof, iPod and USB connector, and satellite radio.

Favorite Features

115-Volt AC Outlet

This clever feature allows you to power most devices that need household-style alternating current.

Generous Rear Cargo Space

Fold down the rear seats of the 2011 Toyota Matrix and its flat cargo floor can hold a bunch of camping gear, back-to-college supplies or boxes and books for moving day.

Under the Hood

Standard on the 2011 Toyota Matrix is a 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, which is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The Matrix S has a 2.4-liter, 158-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. The 2.4-liter engine employs variable timing on both exhaust and intake valves to produce both responsive acceleration and good fuel economy.

1.8-liter in-line 4

132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 (manual), 25/32 (automatic)

2.4-liter in-line 4

158 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (manual), 21/29 (five-speed automatic), 20/26 (four-speed automatic, AWD)

Editors' Notes

The 2011 Toyota Matrix is a clever alternative to conventional compact cars. Its roomy wagon design, tall seating position, and available all-wheel drive makes it competitive with compact SUVs. However, it's the Matrix's sporty driving attitude and good fuel economy that separates it from the little SUVs. The Toyota Matrix also is a strong alternative to the Kia Soul, Mazda Mazda3 hatchback, and Nissan Versa. While the Matrix isn't as trendy as its similarly sized Scion cousins, it is every bit as reliable – and also retains above-average resale value.

Road Test Video Reviews

2011 Toyota Matrix Owner Reviews

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16 Reviews
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Honda- Matrix 2011: This car will last and is beautiful outside and inside.

2011 Toyota Matrix Base

I like that it drives. It hasn't broken down and overall it's an amazing car with a sweet interior. The outside of the size of the car has been able to help me get my friends through long road trips without them feeling cramped in. They appreciate the car almost as much as I do. Overall the car is amazing and is the perfect size for a family of all sizes. It is reliable and will last for a long time.

- Alan A

Reliable, and just the right size.

2011 Toyota Matrix Base

Very reliable. Never had a problem with this car not starting. Also have never had a problem with it breaking down. Comfortable and compact, yet big enough to fit everything I need. If you maintain this car with regular oil changes and regular maintenance, it will serve you well for years. Also is good on gas, fill up about once a week (unless I drive further than usual).

- Christine O

Great car 2011 Toyota matrix.

2011 Toyota Matrix

The car runs great. Very smooth drive, never really had any problems with it. The airbag was recalled for a while but now everything is fixed. This car has been through hell and back with me and no matter what everything has always turned out fine. I recommend this car for anyone, it's not too big but not too small and I love it. Definitely good for shorter drivers.

- Abby G

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