Last post on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:29 PM
You are in the Toyota Matrix
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Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix, Wagon
#137 of 285 Don't call me crazy, call me obsessed
Feb 23, 2003 (11:45 pm)
Today I drove Matrix again. Why? Because I really like this car. At least, some portions of the car. And I wanted to make myself to like it as a whole package. I drove XR, immediately followed by XRS. Too bad, my opinion is almost the same.
Base engine does not have enough low-end torque and does not provide a lot of high-rev power. This can work for calm and relaxed driving, but do not even think about brisk accelerations or fast lane changes. Floor it on 4th and 3K rpm and get nothing. It is not only boring, it is unsafe. You might not manage to avoid a dangerous situation by making a fast lane change, so you have to think about the road conditions several turns ahead, which is good thing by itself, but may not help in that one very single bad moment.
Yamaha powerplant feels livelier and provides a turbo-like boost after 6K rpm. But even hot shots sometimes need to relax. Too bad that emergency acceleration is even harder to perform on XRS than on XR. I will try to explain my point: XRS has 6-speed gearbox with closer gear ratios, so if you are cruising on 6th and need to jump really fast, it is not enough to shift of 5th, you need at least 4th. But the motion from 6th to 4th is not an easy and natural push like the one from 4th to 3rd or even from 5th to 4th on 5-speed gearbox, so you either miss the gear or lose the time trying to find the proper gate. Frustrating. And with this high-tech engine compact Matrix has just slightly better fuel economy than my V6 Camry. So, what’s the point? Maybe a Camry wagon would be just the “thing”? Oops, no wagons in current Camry lineup.
Pedals are close to each other, clutch and brake are too close for my taste. I wonder how people from Midwest drive Matrix with stick, wearing winter boots. I had 9-1/2 shoes on during the drive test and I would prefer more room for my left foot.
The steering wheel feedback is adequate but worse than on Protege5 which I drove yesterday. On Protege the steering wheel feels almost like computer joystick... err, "joy wheel". If you ever played computer car games with this device, you would understand what I am talking about. You can turn it 1/10 of an inch from neutral position and you feel immediate feedback. Release it and the wheel will return to neutral almost as if it had spring in it. What is really great, that a car moves along with a steering wheel immediately. Zoom-zoom, computer feeling. With Matrix the feel is smeared, you do not have this great straight line feedback as with Protege. I am not saying that it is bad, it is just not as good as it could be. The steering wheel feels filled with heaviness, not with responsiveness and sensitivity.
The seats are pretty good. Road & Track found some differences between Matrix and Vibe seats and judged Vibe’s as superior. Don’t know about that. Anyway, I liked the seats, they are firm and relatively supportive. The rear seats are much better that on Focus and there is a lot of space in the rear, even for passengers’ feet under the front seats thanks to high driver seating. Alas, there was some electronic equipment under the driver’s seat which would not be quite welcomed by a passenger on the rear seat. I do not know what this equipment is, the dealer told me it is for the seat, but it had wires coming from it.
So, in my opinion rear passenger space and the trunk are possibly the best selling point for the Matrix. It has hands down the best way to organize the luggage compartment: no need to fold rear seat cushions, no need to take off rear headrests, no efforts trying to find seatbelt buckles after you returned seats back to the normal position (one of Protégé quirks).
Comparing to Matrix, Protégé is a nightmare. To prepare the trunk for a TV set or a bike one needs to pull seat cushions, fold them, take off headrests, and finally fold the seatback. Now one needs to find where to store the headrests and the old-fashioned two-piece trunk cover. Also, the side notion: because of the lower height and the lower seating position Protégé5 was the only compact car which required from me two motions to leave a car: first, I turned left and put my feet on the ground, and second, I pulled myself from a car (imagine yourself stepping from a bathtub). Matrix is more user-friendly.
I am not going to whine again about weird dashboard, must-have underbody skirts on XRS and omission of green from the paint color scheme. It is just a matter of taste. But looking at 40-yr olds on the dealership, who liked Matrix versatility and were turned off by its funky interior makes me feel that I am not alone.
I will probably add later some more about my experience with Protege5. In short: great for driving, complicated for hauling.
Mar 08, 2003 (1:41 am)
when is the supercharger kit available for the base engine? I think both Toy and Pont will sell it dealer installed witha full warranty and hp torque jumps to 175/170 if I'm not mistaken.
Mar 08, 2003 (5:14 am)
Yeah, but at what RPM's is that? Pontiac doesn't offer an automatic with the larger engine because the torque is so high in the power band that they do not believe it useful with an automatic. And just try to find a Toyota so equipped.
So. Anyone out there have a dealer installed factory authorized supercharger on a base Matrix/Vibe engine? Many of us would love to hear of your impressions. Would you do it again? What did it cost?
Mar 08, 2003 (11:19 am)
seriously do it - I have the auto, so I could seriously use more power in some situations - but (1) it would ruin the great gas mileage, which was one of the biggest reasons I bought the car, and (2) I would be afraid of the deleterious effects on the transmission.
Mar 10, 2003 (10:03 pm)
the power gain is supposedly greatest down low but is quite good across all rpm ranges. Lots more grunt than the base and GT.
torque, horsepower, the whole deal.
#143 of 285 Cargo Volume
Mar 13, 2003 (9:59 am)
The cargo volume for the Vibe is listed at 19.3 cu.ft and the cargo volume for the Matrix is list at 21.8 cu.ft.
Does anyone know why?
Mar 13, 2003 (10:00 pm)
an ad in a magazine that listed cargo room at 53 cubic feet, which I assume is with the back seats down, and personally I find that easier to belive in such a large hatchback, than 21.8.
The ad was from Toyota.
perhaps all that Pontiac cladding reduces cargo room??!!
Mar 16, 2003 (10:45 am)