Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Matrix

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There is no denying that the looks of the Toyota Matrix don’t go along with the name. But it is a solid hatchback, and there is no denying that.

The vehicle cannot be found in production nowadays due to its production being seized in 2013, along with many other vehicles, including the infamous FJ Cruiser.

During its time on the market, the Matrix was chosen by thousands of people as their daily driver.

It was a reliable vehicle and still a great choice nowadays for anyone looking to get a high-quality hatchback.

That said, a few models of the vehicle were significantly worse than the others. This article will be covering all of those best and worst years for Toyota Matrix.

Let’s list them down before we get into the details:

Best Years for Toyota Matrix:

  1. 2008
  2. 2013
  3. 2012
  4. 2011
  5. 2007

Worst Years for Toyota Matrix:

  1. 2009
  2. 2003
  3. 2006
  4. 2005

This article will focus on each of these models individually to understand exactly why they have earned their respective positions.

There will also be a section of the most common problems users have had with this hatchback. You should not skip over that one.

So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it!

List Of The Best Years For The Toyota Matrix: What Years To Buy

Let's find out which year models of the Toyota Matrix are good to drive

As promised, this section of the article will detail all of the models of the best year list, which was mentioned in the introduction above.

These models are the most reliable and can be purchased without any second thought.

#1 Best Year: 2008 Toyota Matrix

The first and the best model of this entire article is 2008 Toyota Matrix.

One would expect the last one to be the best, but that was certainly not the case. This one came five years before the Matrix was discontinued, and it was extremely reliable.

The 2008 hatchback is equipped with a 1.8L engine that can generate 126 HP.

It will not break any records, but the power is enough for daily usage. You might be worried that the model may not have enough safety features.

Well, that is not true. Despite it being old, the Toyota Matrix has front and side airbags. There is traction control, too but only on trims with the automatic transmission.

The driving experience is good but not great, which is expected with a vehicle such as this one.

#2 Best Year: 2013 Toyota Matrix

Coming in second place is the 2013 Toyota Matrix. This hatchback model was the last one to ever be on the production lines.

It was fantastic, too, with many features that the 2008 one did not have. The only main issue was that the fuel economy was not so great.

The 2013 Matrix features a 1.8L engine that can produce a higher HP, clocking in at 132. However, the S model has a 2.4L engine, and it can output a decent 158 HP.

Both of them provide a decent driving experience. When talking about the interior, it is great. It has a classic Toyota feel but with a premium touch. It is solid and will last for a long time.

#3 Best Year: 2012 Toyota Matrix

The 2012 Toyota Matrix is another option one could consider. This model has earned a lower spot than its successor because the base model did not have a USB or Bluetooth.

That is a feature that should have been included. But other than that, this model was mostly similar to the previous one.

The fuel economy of this model is also similar to 2013 one. The engine is not very fuel-efficient, with the average being 25 mpg.

That is less for such a low-powered hatchback. It does makeup in other departments, such as safety.

All the latest and greatest features, such as airbags and stability control, have been provided.

#4 Best Year: 2011 Toyota Matrix

Although the 2011 Toyota Matrix model did bring some changes when transitioning from 2010, it is vastly similar to the 2012 model.

Toyota made some decisions, and one of them was to discontinue the XRS variant, which was the top-of-the-line one. But the other variants did get added features, such as cruise control.

There are two engine options, with the weaker one being a 1.8L and the bigger brother having a capacity of 2.4L. There is a difference between night and day in performance.

The weaker variant feels underpowered, while the latter is solid and provides an amazing driving experience. It is found in the S line-up only, and it does suffer from poor fuel economy.

#5 Best Year: 2007 Toyota Matrix

Finally coming in the fifth and final place is the 2007 Toyota Matrix. This model has earned the last spot on this article for two main reasons.

First, basic safety features, such as ABS and stability control, had to be bought as an extra package. The second one is that the acceleration of this model is the worst on the entire list.

That said, this 15-year-old model checks most of the right boxes, which has helped him earn a spot on this list. The interior has an attractive design.

The controls are placed in an easy manner to get used to. The cargo space can be expanded to 53.2 cubic feet, which is plenty for most people.

List Of The Worst Years For The Toyota Matrix: What Years To Avoid

This section of the article will be moving on to the second list mentioned in the introduction.

This section will focus on the worst aspects of all of these models.

It is recommended to stay away from them because they have very poor performance.

#1 Worst Year: 2009 Toyota Matrix

The 2009 Toyota Matrix is the one to get if you want to run into as many issues as possible.

This model was the most unreliable one in the short history of this vehicle. It was plagued with engine issues, making driving and even owning it simply unbearable.

Owners complained that the vehicle would consume too much oil. The engine would also produce a lot of noise when the cold starts.

This model of the Toyota Matrix was prone to rust too. This is serious because rust compromises the vehicle’s structural integrity, shortening its lifespan greatly.

A transparent layer on the top of the paint would also start to feel, making the paint easy to get chipped.

#2 Worst Year: 2003 Toyota Matrix

Next up is the first-ever model of the 2003 Toyota Matrix that was ever unveiled to the public. This model was another one plagued with various issues.

The most common ones were related to the engine and the transmission. Unfortunately, owners complained that the engine would fail.

This means there is no other fix rather than replacing it entirely. It would also accelerate unexpectedly, which can result in an accident.

Transmission issues on this model included the system failing and the gears becoming loose over time.

The transmission system would also emit a rattling noise when in use. This is pretty serious, and if you are one to hear it, you can expect the system’s failure at any time.

#3 Worst Year: 2006 Toyota Matrix

The 2006 Toyota Matrix was better than both of these because users reported much lesser engine issues.

It did have its fair share of problems, with the most annoying one being the door handles cracking.

This means the manufacturer used poor quality materials, which led to the handles cracking.

There were problems related to the paint too. The paint on the front bumper and the hood was done badly, which would result in it chipping.

The rubber seal on the doors would pop out again and again, preventing the formation of a proper seal.

The electrical system was unreliable too. The ignition starter would fail, and the vehicle would stall when driving.

#4 Worst Year: 2005 Toyota Matrix

Finally coming in the fourth and final place is the 2005 model of the Toyota Matrix. This one has introduced 17 years ago and is better than many other models on this list.

It did have many problems, but it was better than the others. Engine issues persisted with this model, which could be identified with the illuminated CEL light.

One major concern with this model was related to the airbags. The airbag light would turn on unexpectedly, which prompted concern because they could eject at any given second.

There was a recall at that time. So, if you do purchase this model, you should make sure that its airbag was fixed.

What Are The Most Common Problems With The Toyota Matrix?

We are finally done with all of the model years of the Toyota Matrix that one can consider. But this article is still far from being finished.

Moving on, we will be looking at the most common complaints of the Toyota Matrix reported by consumers over the years.

It is recommended to read this section of the article in its entirety.

1. Failure Of The MAF Sensor

The first issue on this list is one of the most common problems found in the first generation of the Toyota Matrix, which was in the market from 2003 to 2008.

MAF stands for Mass Air Flow. It is a key part of the fuel injection system of the vehicle.

When it goes faulty, you can expect many issues that include huge performance drops and shifting problems.

So, how does the MAF sensor become faulty?

That can be due to many reasons, but the most reported one is a restricted exhaust system.

The sensor will become faulty and will provide inaccurate readings that will directly impact the engine’s performance.

The vehicle may start jerking or even stall while pretty serious driving. It can be fixed, but you can expect to pay around $300.

2. Falling Windows

Another common issue that owners of the first generation of the Toyota Matrix faced was that the windows would fall and were unsecure.

This was due to poor quality control and should never have happened in the first place.

If you own a hatchback model that was manufactured between 2003 and 2008, then there is a very high likelihood that you will have to face this issue.

As you cannot avoid it, the only way to fix the issue is to tighten up the loose screws. Opening the door panel is simple.

You should also use painter’s tape to secure the window so it does not fall off. It is recommended to use thread lockers to prevent the screws from getting loose once again.

3. Constant EVAP Codes

The next problem on this list is yet again a very serious one. This one turns on the check engine light. When a diagnostic tool is connected, an EVAP code will appear.

If the code is related to the gas cap, the EVAP canister is leaking. This prevents the fuel vapors from entering the atmosphere.

Although the problem is not that serious, its repetitive nature does make it annoying.

So, what can you do to fix it?

The first thing you need to do is tighten up the gas cap. If that does not work, you should check if the gas cap is damaged or broken.

If it is, you need to get a replacement as soon as possible. If the EVAP canister is to blame, then it should be replaced.

4. High Oil Consumption

The next problem on this list is another annoying one.

Owners complained that their Toyota Matrix would consume oil at a high rate, which would result in them needing to be topping it off again and again.

This is not viable and could indicate a leak in the engine.

So, what issues can arise with excessive oil consumption?

Well, the first main problem is overheating. The oil is also responsible for dissipating some of the heat. If the level is too low, then the engine’s lifespan may be severely decreased.

It can also result in unexpected engine stalling while driving, which is pretty serious and can result in an accident.

So, if your vehicle is exhibiting such issues, you should get it professionally diagnosed.

Related: Why Won’t My Toyota Matrix Start?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Many Miles Will A Toyota Matrix Last?

Although it may not be a champion, there is no denying that the engine is built like a tank when talking about performance.

It can last through thick and thin, which means it will be able to power your vehicle for 300000 miles.

That is pretty impressive. This number will drop if a strict maintenance schedule is not maintained. Another plus point is that it will be rare to find a model close to this mileage.

Q2. Which Is Better Matrix Or Corolla?

Did you know that the Matrix is often called the hatchback version of the Corolla?

This means that Toyota took the Corolla and transformed it into a hatchback. This also means that it has better legroom and overall greater cargo space.

The base engines are the same, but the Corolla can output higher HP if you compare the same models. They trade blows with one another, and they can be classified as equals.

Q3. Why Did They Stop Making Toyota Matrix?

Like the FJ Cruiser, which was also discontinued in 2014, the Matrix had disappointing sales.

This may be due to the underpowered engine or poor fuel consumption. As no official reason was provided, we can only guess.

It was a decent vehicle and was highly bought before 2008. There are many other options out there that are newer and better.

So, if you are on the lookout for a newer model, you should consider them.

Q4. Is Toyota Matrix Easy To Maintain?

Yes, it is. The Matrix is easy to maintain because there is very little chance of it failing on you.

If you are looking for a proper figure, the Toyota Matrix has an annual maintenance average of $319.

That is pretty decent, and this number will be acceptable by many people.

The vehicle itself has earned a 4 out 5 star rating for reliability, which means you cannot expect much to go wrong with it.

Q5. Is Toyota Matrix A Sedan Or SUV?

It is neither. The Matrix provides the comfort level of a sedan while offering the larger cargo space of an SUV. It is a mix between both and has been loved by users since it hit the market.

The Matrix was based on the Corolla, which is a sedan. The names are different, but they are also vastly different in looks. It is easy to distinguish between them.


With the best and worst years for Toyota Matrix finally covered, this article has finally ended. I hope this article helped you decide which model of the hatchback will be suitable for you.

If you have read through the entire thing, you may already be aware of the best model. Well, for those who don’t know, the 2008 model of the Toyota Matrix is the best out of all.

It is the most reliable and a great option for anyone looking for a solid hatchback. It has a decent set of features too, which include security.