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2003 Toyota Matrix Road Test

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Finding a brand new market segment is a dream of most automobile manufacturers. It means that, for awhile at least, you have the market all to yourself. One of the most notable examples of this is the Chrysler minivan. In 1983, Chrysler unveiled the 1984 Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager to an eager public who couldn’t get enough of these practical vehicles. The minivan all but replaced the station wagon in the driveways across America. Chrysler had the market to themselves for a number of years with the competition scrambling to come out with a me-too product.

Toyota now thinks that they have found that elusive new market segment with the new Matrix. A new market segment means that there is no competition, but in the Matrix’s case, I can find a few vehicles that fit the same profile.

Category: $15,000 – $20,000 Sport Wagon
Who
should buy
this car:
Anyone looking for a front-wheel drive European sedan that steps out from the crowd.
Comparable
cars in
this class:
Pontiac Vibe (same car, different badging) Chrysler PT Cruiser

The Matrix is, what Toyota calls “a crossover vehicle”, combining the utility of a SUV with the comfort and easy handling of a station wagon. Its off-road ability is limited, but then most SUV’s rarely go off-road, with families using them to ferry the kids to school or go to the market. All that tough all-terrain hardware goes to waste, as does the extra gas that is required to lug all that extra weight around. Other disadvantages include: high step-in height due to the added ground clearance, less agile handling due to the high center of gravity, and considerably less storage space then a minivan.

The Matrix is built on the new for 2003 Corolla platform which is an excellent start. From there, they added a host of convenience features designed to endear these little gems into the hearts of American families across the fruited plains.

Aside from the controversial, love it or hate it styling, these vehicles are perfect for young single people and new budding families. There’s room for five (not all full grown please) with plenty of nifty storage areas for things you can’t leave behind.

, 2003 Toyota Matrix Road Test

How would I improve this car?

  • Larger fuel and temperature gauges would be nice
  • Add automatic headlights. I’m surprised that they weren’t included in this package.
  • Add another 20 HP and I may buy one. This is my kind of car.

How does the Matrix fit your driving style?

Conservative drivers This is a good riding car that gives you the feeling of being connected with the road. This is a difficult combination to achieve and inspires confidence.

Sporty drivers will enjoy the European feel and smooth power delivery that does not compromise the comfortable ride. You’ll also enjoy shifting the 5-speed automatic for yourself when the mood strikes.

Fast drivers will run out of tire grip early on. Aftermarket 17″ wheels and fatter rubber will help, but at the expense of the ride.

Specifications

Engine Type 90 degree V6,  Double overhead camshaft, 5 valves per cylinder,
Cast iron block, Aluminum heads
Horsepower 190 @ 6000 RPM
Torque 206 @ 3200 RPM
Fuel Recommended Premium 91 Octane Unleaded.
Transmission (std.)
Transmission (opt.)
5-speed manual transaxle
Electronically controlled 5-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Tires – Standard P205/55 R 16 H all weather tires
Overall Length 185.2″
Wheelbase 106.4″
Width 68.7″
Steering turns 2.80 Lock to Lock
Turning Diameter 37.4 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 3,333 lbs. (Manual), 3,452 lbs. (Automatic)
Fuel Tank 16.4 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 20, hwy 29 (Manual), city 18, hwy 26 (Automatic)
Acceleration 0 to 60 8.8 Seconds
Base Sticker Price (GLX) $28,750

2001.5 Volkswagen Passat GLX 2.8L V6

Standard Equipment

  • Power glass sunroof
  • Rain sensor, automatic wipers
  • Heated windshield washer nozzles
  • Automatic climate control Air Conditioning
  • Multi function trip computer
  • Genuine wood decor
  • Monsoon Sound System 8-speakers with amplifier
  • Driver and front passenger side airbags
  • Side Curtain Air Bags
  • 8-way driver and front passenger power seats, driver with 3 memory positions
  • Heatable front seats
  • Homelink with sun visor extension
  • Leather seating surfaces
  • ABS (anti-lock braking system)
  • ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation)
  • EDL (Electronic Differential Lock)
  • 10 year/100,000 mile (whichever occurs first) Limited Powertrain Warranty.
  • 2 year/24,000 mile (whichever occurs first) Limited New Vehicle Warranty.
  • limited corrosion warranty of 12 years with no mileage restrictions.
  • 2 year/24,000 mile (whichever occurs first) no charge scheduled manufacture’s maintenance
  • 2 year/unlimited distance 24-hour roadside assistance provided by AAA..

Major Available Options

  • Electronically controlled 5-speed Automatic Transmission with Tiptronic $1,075
  • 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive system $1,750
  • In-dash single CD player (dealer installed)
  • 6 disc CD-changer, trunk mounted (dealer-installed)

For more information on the Passat, visit vw.com.

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