11 Best & Worst Toyota Matrix Years (Facts & Stats)

The Toyota Matrix is a compact wagon that was produced from 2003 to 2013. 

It is now somewhat dated although it still has a lot going for it.

In this article, we’ll be checking out all of the best and worst model years of the Matrix.

2011 Toyota Matrix

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Matrix Are:

The best Toyota Matrix model years are 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. The worst model years of this model are 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Toyota Matrix?

2013 Toyota Matrix

The 2013 Toyota Matrix is the final model year produced and is a top pick thanks to solid reliability.

New for 2013 is an updated audio system, otherwise, it carried over unchanged from 2012.

It has a pleasant ride, intuitive controls, a spacious backseat, and a flat load floor.

There are 2 available trim levels: L and S.

The L comes standard with 16-inch wheels, heated mirrors, and cruise control, among other attractive features.

Opting for the higher-end S trim provides you with fog lights, upgraded upholstery, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and a metallic interior trim. 

The L trim has a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine (132 hp) while the S has a more powerful 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine (158 hp). 

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2013 Matrix, Edmunds Review:

“I love my ‘Yota’. She handles like a dream, cheap to fix, goes everywhere, great on gas and I can haul a lot or a little. I love feeling Sporty but casual at the same time. I live a mile off the main road and actually 1/2 a mile on a snowmobile trail or Class 4 road and my girl gets me up and down in all types of weather…”

2013 Toyota Matrix

2012 and 2011 Toyota Matrix

The 2012 and 2011 Matrix models are essentially the same and they have received minimal complaints and good owner reviews. They are practical, spacious, and comfortable.

For 2011 the top-of-the-line XRS model was discontinued and more standard features were introduced across the two remaining L and S trims including cruise control, full power accessories and heated and folding rearview mirrors.

Front wheel-drive is standard although the S trim can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

Owners have praised these vehicles for the following aspects:

  • Brakes
  • Spaciousness
  • Interior
  • Comfort
  • Engine
  • Transmission 
  • Technology
  • Handling
  • Steering

If you value fuel economy, then we’d advise opting for the base L trim that is equipped with a fuel-sipping 1.8-liter engine with a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg.

2012 Toyota Matrix:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2011 Toyota Matrix:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
2010 Toyota Matrix

2010 Toyota Matrix

The 2010 model benefits from the complete redesign of 2009 minus all the issues. This model is a great choice for small families on a tight budget.

There are three trims to choose from.

  1. Base Matrix with an economical 1.8-liter engine
  2. Midrange S (replaces last year’s XR) with a 2.4-liter engine and optional AWD
  3. High-line XRS trim with front-wheel drive, better handling and suspension and a 2.4-liter engine

The 2010 Toyota Matrix comes standard with airbags, stability control and ABS. In government crash testing, it scored a perfect five stars for frontal and front-seat side impacts and four stars for rear-seat side impacts. 

2010 Toyota Matrix:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2010 Matrix, Edmunds Review:

“This is a peppy little car that’s not so little. Lot’s of room for kids, groceries, or whatever you need to haul around. It’s fun to drive, has a great safety rating and it doesn’t look like a ‘mom’ vehicle. Tint the windows and even the base model is quite sporty looking.”

Consumer Scores For Best Toyota Matrix Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
2013 Toyota Matrix4.1 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2012 Toyota Matrix4.2 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2011 Toyota Matrix4.2 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2010 Toyota Matrix4.2 / 5.04.3 / 5.0

Related: Toyota Matrix Alarm Going Off (12 Common Causes)

What Are The Worst Years For The Toyota Matrix?

2003 Toyota Matrix

The 2003 Matrix, the first-ever model year ever produced, is the most problematic iteration of the Matrix. Dubbed a clunker by CarComplaints.com, it was notorious for transmission, clutch and engine problems.

The transmission and clutch problems were linked – owners reported transmission slipping and strange noises. This was an indicator of the clutch needing replacing.

“The clutch on my 2003 Matrix failed at 32,000 miles. I’ve owned manual transmission cars all my life and have never had this happen until at least 65,000 to 85,000 miles were put on the vehicle.” – NHTSA.gov

“At 34,000 miles the clutch began slipping. Toyota stated that it was from misuse, that my wife was driving it improperly. My wife, age 57, has been driving clutch cars all her life and averages 100,000 miles per clutch.” – NHTSA.gov

Owners also reported various engine problems, one of which was that the engine would suddenly rev when the foot brake was applied.

“I was approaching a stop light and all of a sudden the engine started to accelerate; this has never happened before.” – NHTSA.gov

“I was exiting on a ramp from the highway. I stopped the car before coming off the ramp on an incline when the engine suddenly revved up with my foot on the brake.” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2003 Matrix had a total of 42 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 351 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.

Common problems:

  • Engine failure
  • Takata airbag recall
  • Transmission stopped working
  • Loud whining noise
2003 Toyota Matrix

2004 to 2008 Toyota Matrix

The 2004 – 2008 Matrix models received a large number of complaints, many of which were due to the Takata airbag recall. The airbags were notorious due to their potential to explode, firing shrapnel into the cabin and causing serious injury and even death.

The recall affected millions of vehicles across various makes and models, and due to the high demand for parts owners were forced to wait unacceptable periods of time for repairs.

“Takata recall. Toyota says I should not drive my car without replacing the air bag. Their dealer has no parts. I have been waiting 6 months. They continue to bug me to fix the car. They fail to provide parts. I cannot get a resolution.” – NHTSA.gov

Tire cupping was another widely reported problem on these models (when a car or truck’s tire tread moves from high to low in random spots).

“My tires worn unevenly and cupped after 25000 miles on my brand new 06 Toyota Matrix. My dealership told me it was because of rotation. But when I checked online, I saw that many people have the same problems with the same car.” – NHTSA.gov

Engine Control Module (a device that controls multiple systems of the engine in a single unit) problems were also widely reported on these models. Owners reported various electrical problems and losing power whilst driving.

“I had to replace my engine control module (ecm) because the engine would loose power and cut off while driving on street.” – NHTSA.gov

“My Matrix will shut off while im driving everything points to the ecm being bad. My VIN # is not part of the recall but I feel it should be. It is very dangerous.” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2004 Matrix had a total of 13 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 218 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2005 Matrix had a total of 24 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 359 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2006 Matrix had a total of 27 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 280 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2007 Matrix had a total of 11 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 161 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.
  • The 2008 Matrix had a total of 2 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 93 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.

Common problems:

  • Takata recall
  • ECM failure
  • Tire cupping

2009 Toyota Matrix

The 2009 Toyota Matrix model was fully redesigned. Much like its predecessors, it received a huge number of complaints due to the Takata airbag recall.

Many complaints were filed due to the manufacturer exceeding a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair.

Airbag recalls aside, this model also received many complaints due to unintended acceleration of the vehicle.

“The contact owned a 2009 Toyota corolla Matrix. While driving 50 mph, the vehicle accelerated independently and crashed into a rail several times.” – NHTSA.gov

“Gently put my foot on accelerator, approx. @2mph, turning right, Matrix began to go faster, put my foot quickly on the brake, the car accelerated at a higher speed crashing me into a brick wall” – NHTSA.gov

Owners also reported instances of car stalling that would occur intermittently and at various speeds.

“2009 Toyota Matrix stalls randomly 3 to 7 times a day. Stalls occurring randomly while driving, including some on highways and some in intersections.”

“Vehicle has stalled several times. All instances the vehicle stalls while driving. Problem is random and non-repeatable. I have had the vehicle stall while at various speeds ranging from 15 mph to 55+ mph.”

  • The 2009 Matrix had a total of 79 complaints on CarComplaints.com and 311 problems based on CarProblemZoo.com data.

Common problems:

  • Takata recall
  • Unintended acceleration
  • Stalling
  • Loss of power steering
2009 Toyota Matrix

Related: Toyota Corolla: 12 Common Problems (Solution Guide)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
2013 Toyota Matrix213
2012 Toyota Matrix353
2011 Toyota Matrix2164
2010 Toyota Matrix217711
2009 Toyota Matrix7931111
2008 Toyota Matrix2936
2007 Toyota Matrix111616
2006 Toyota Matrix272808
2005 Toyota Matrix243596
2004 Toyota Matrix132188
2003 Toyota Matrix423518

What Problems Do Toyota Matrix Have?

  • Engine failure
  • Transmission failure
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Transmission stopped working
  • Loud whining noise
  • Rattling noise from engine
  • Engine stalling
  • Premature brake wear
  • Brake pedal goes down to the floor gradually
  • Sudden unintended acceleration
  • Tire cupping
  • Takata recall
  • Rubber door seal popping out
  • Hubcaps do not stay on
  • Check engine light on

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Toyota Matrix?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Toyota Corolla8.2$10,001 – $12,372City: 26 – 27 /Highway: 34
Subaru Impreza8.1$8,729 – $20,965City: 17 – 27 /Highway: 23 – 26
Hyundai Elantra8.0$7,296 – $8,990City: 26 – 28 /Highway: 37 – 38
Scion xB8.0$10,020 – $11,362City: 22 / Highway: 28
Volkswagen GTI8.0$10,773 – $14,202City: 21 – 24 /Highway: 31 – 33
Honda Civic Hybrid7.9$13,637 – $15,321City: 44 /Highway: 44
Ford Focus7.8$6,617 – $10,483City: 23 – 28 /Highway: 32 – 40
Nissan Cube7.8$7,260 – $7,884City: 25 – 27 /Highway: 30 – 31
Toyota Matrix7.8$10,228 – $11,782City: 20 – 26 /Highway: 26 – 32
Volkswagen Jetta7.7$7,035 – $13,908City: 23 – 30 /Highway: 29 – 42
Volkswagen Eos7.6$9,165 – $10,963City: 22 /Highway: 30
Dodge Dart7.5$7,035 – $8,748City: 21 – 28 /Highway: 30 – 41

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com












  • Ian Sawyer

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