The Toyota Matrix, which is also referred to as the Toyota Corolla Matrix, is a compact hatchback that is built by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada in Cambridge, Ontario and is derived from the Toyota Corolla. This vehicle was initially introduced in 2002 as the 2003 model and is the result of a joint effort between Toyota and General Motors, and the GM version of it is called the Pontiac Vibe. The Matrix has been sold in Canada and Mexico as well as the United States, and it is widely regarded as the hatchback version of the North American Corolla.
There are many similarities between the Toyota Matrix and the Vibe, especially in terms of their overall mechanics. Both of these vehicles have a narrow design but also have tall station wagons that use a semi-SUV style, which is referred to as a crossover utility vehicle, and are marketed to a younger demographic. This kind of vehicle is also commonly referred to as a sport wagon. The first of these vehicles was sold in February of 2002, and the Matrix underwent a minor facelift for the 2005 model. In 2009, the Matrix was completely redesigned following the tenth generation Corolla.
The 2003 year model Matrix was introduced and based on the Toyota Corolla platform and remained more or less unchanged by 2004, though its 2005 facelift came with some minor revisions to the exterior. The front fascia of this vehicle was restyled because of numerous complaints that it rubbed on the ground, and the red lenses which were used for the previous model of this vehicle were changed to clear ones. The instrument panel on the 2005 Matrix received some changes as well with a Toyota head unit instead of the GM-sourced radio.
There are two different 1.8 liter four-cylinder engines available with the Matrix, including the 1ZZ-FE which is also used in the Corolla and could produce up to 130 horsepower. After the 2005 model, however, this engine’s power was reduced to a total of 126 horsepower. There is also the performance-oriented 2ZZ-GE which is also used in the Toyota Celica GT-S and is capable of producing up to 164 horsepower. The 2003 version of this vehicle is able to produce 173 horsepower and the 2004 version can produce up to 170 horsepower.
The standard model Matrix was first sold for $14,670 in 2003 with a no-frills base model which came with only a limited number of options. Although this vehicle did come with air conditioning as a standard feature, it did have certain others, including color-keyed mirrors as well as power windows and locks. The mid-range trim level of the Matrix, called the XR, combined the low price tag that came with the base model with some of the features of the XRS. Some of the different features that this vehicle offered consumers include color-matched mirrors and door handles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a panic button on the key fob. This model Matrix was initially sold for $16, 180 in 2003, but that price jumped to $16,990 four years later.
Toyota issued a recall on the Matrix in May of 2008 for the 2003 and 2004 models. This recall included the two bolts in each of the front doors as a possible safety hazard which may cause the window to come off the track and break. This recall was only issued for models that are equipped with power windows. Despite some of the negative attention that the Matrix received with this recall, it still remained one of the more popular vehicles from Toyota and continues to be a popular choice today.