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2014 Toyota Matrix Review

By Miranda Lightstone
2014 Toyota Matrix Review

Summary Rating: 68%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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You know that awkward feeling you get when someone has overstayed their welcome and you just wish they’d get the hint and go home? That’s kinda how I felt with the Toyota Matrix. Sure, it was great the first 10 years of its life and offered up space and practicality (as well as an AWD version) that the Corolla was missing, but it’s past due now and time we all moved on.

Toyota got the hint and announced late last year that Matrix production will end in the US, however, it will continue in Canada…


What is a Toyota Matrix?
First introduced in the early 2000s, the Matrix was bred on the Toyota Corolla platform and was essentially (and still is) the hatchback version of the very popular sedan. Relatively unchanged since its introduction in 2002 (save for a slight facelift in 2005 and some minor adjustments in 2009), the Matrix is in its second generation only and already looking at the end of its life.

2014 Toyota Matrix Price and Specs
With a starting price under $20k for the base, automatic version, the 2014 Toyota Matrix is attractive to those on a budget when stacked up against the competition. Whether you opt for the 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, you’ll still get Toyota’s 1.8L 4-cylinder VVT-I engine good for 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.

The Matrix is a pretty bare-bones model with a limited number of accessories and features available, but for the price it makes sense. The most expensive version of the Matrix sits just below the $25k mark.

Driving the 2014 Toyota Matrix
Unfortunately, there’s not much to say here. The 1.8L does the job, but it’s pretty gutless in the end. And the 4-speed transmission is functional but lazy and slow to shift, and the engine is noisy when pushed. All in all, it’s not the most pleasant of experiences.

However, not everyone is a driver, nor do they care about throttle response or precise handling -- and I understand that. In that case, the 2014 Toyota Matrix is a fantastic option with plenty of trunk space and an engine that should, in theory, save owners in the long run. Toyota claims the Matrix will do 7.0L/100km and my own weeklong test drive revealed that the giant Japanese carmaker’s stats aren’t too far off the mark.

Suspension in the 2014 Toyota Matrix is also much too harsh for the kind of car it is. There’s no need for such little wheel travel or over-stiff dampening, this is not a sporty vehicle and does not need the added high-speed stability. Our uneven streets were unpleasant to traverse and brought out plenty of rattles in the cabin on each drive.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Toyota Matrix
This could be a fabulous-looking hatchback. In fact, I kind of hope in the near future they take the look of the brand new Toyota Corolla and migrate it to an updated and brand new Matrix, should they ever do so. However, its outdated front fascia and overall exterior lines only add to the list of cons in my opinion. This isn’t an ugly vehicle, it’s just bland and non-descript. It lacks character.

Inside, that uneventful air continues as the interior of the 2014 Toyota Matrix is all about “less is more.” Simple and to the point, this is not a car for the gadget-obsessed or design majors. However, it does get the job done with easy-to-use buttons and knobs.

While the radio that looks about circa 2002 does offer Bluetooth and USB media connections, accessing menus is slow and laborious, especially on a screen that only features two lines of pixelated text.

The back seat offers a good amount of space and headroom, and installing my son’s infant seat was a breeze. The door openings are also quite large, and getting him in and out was just as easy. These are a few bonus points for the 2014 Toyota Matrix.

Comparing the 2014 Toyota Matrix
Here’s where the Matrix falls more than flat in my opinion. It’s clear that Toyota has put little to no effort into the Matrix, knowing its end was nigh. And so, when you stack it up against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and brand new Mazda3 Sport, there really is no comparison at all. If Toyota wanted to give the Matrix a fighting chance, it would have to consider an entire overhaul inside and out, as well as a new transmission.

Better to just let it slip quietly out the back door.

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