What Changed for 2008:
- No changes from the 2007 model
- Redesigned 2009 Matrix goes on sale early in 2008
The Toyota Matrix was one of the first small hatchback/wagon crossovers when it was introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model. Developed in conjunction with General Motors, the Matrix is based on the Toyota Corolla compact sedan and is mechanically identical to the Pontiac Vibe.
The Matrix offers more load-carrying space than a typical compact sedan, according to Toyota, while achieving similar fuel economy. The Matrix has roomy, tall seats and carries five people. Rear seats split and fold to increase cargo room from 21.8 cubic feet to 53.2 cubic feet. The front passenger seat folds flat, too, and the trunk has a hard floor made of washable plastic. Eight tie-down hooks and two cargo nets are standard. As with many SUVs, the rear window opens separately from the rear hatch.
Sold in Standard and XR grades, the front-wheel-drive 2008 Toyota Matrix includes air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player, a height-adjustable passenger seat and a tire-pressure-monitoring system with dashboard light on all versions. The Matrix XR adds power windows, locks, and mirrors; remote keyless entry; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; remote keyless entry; and a rear wiper. All Matrix models come with 16-inch tires and steel wheels, but 16-inch alloy wheels are optional and the XR includes a 17-inch aluminum-alloy option. Two Extra Value packages include front fog and driving lamps and front and rear underbody spoilers among other features.
As with other Toyotas, the Matrix is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty with 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage.
Now that the 170-hp XRS model is gone, all 2008 Toyota Matrix models are powered by a 126-hp, 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which drives the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. At least 90 percent of peak torque (122 lb.-ft.) is available from 2000 rpm to the 6000-rpm redline.
The 2008 Matrix gets EPA fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway with a manual transmission; 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway with an automatic transmission.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test data, the Matrix with side air bags gets a 5-star rating for the driver and a 4-star rating for the front passenger in front crashes, and 5-star rating for the front and a 4-star rating for the rear in a side-impact crash. Dual front air bags are standard. Front-seat-mounted side air bags, 2-row side curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic vehicle stability control (VSC) are all optional safety items, though the latter is available only in conjunction with an automatic transmission.
A 7-speaker JBL audio system with a 6-disc CD changer is an available option on the 2008 Toyota Matrix. Optitron gauges, which provide brighter illumination, get round, chrome-accented housings.