Kamis, 28 April 2011

New Toyota Matrix 2011

The 2011 Matrix is due a minor styling facelift and its sporty and all-wheel-drive (AWD) models will likely get a new engine. The 2011 Matrix will remain basically a station wagon version of the 2011 Toyota Corolla compact sedan but with the additional benefit of available AWD. Toyota is phasing-in the installation of an electronic brake override designed to thwart sudden acceleration and every model-year 2011 Matrix will have the upgrade. Most 2010 models should have it as well.

Should you wait for the 2011 Toyota Matrix or buy a 2010 Toyota Matrix? Wait for the 2011 Matrix if you want the latest styling tweaks or you’re interested in a bit more power. Neither should be compelling enough, however, to pass up a great deal on a 2010 Matrix if you need a compact wagon now. Toyota’s extending generous cash-back and low-interest incentives as it tries to recover from sales lost during the sudden-acceleration recall. Obviously, verify with your dealer that any 2010 Matrix you’re considering has the brake-override system as well as the modified gas pedal and replacement driver’s-side floormat fitted as part of the recall.

With miles of style and attitude to spare — the 2011 Matrix is ready for whatever, whenever. With its low profile and wide track, Matrix has performance inspired styling backed up by the power beneath the hood.

The S Package—available on both Matrix and Matrix AWD—brings out Matrix's aggressively sporty attitude courtesy of 17" Aluminum Alloy Wheels with Wheel Locks, Sport Grille, Fog Lamps, Power Moonroof, Roof Mounted Spoiler, Chrome Exhaust Tip, Colored Mirrors, and Sport Front & Rear Fascia. The performance inspired XRS is set off by its newly redesigned Front Grille, Fascia and Rear Bumper in combination with Front and Rear Underbody Spoilers, Fog Lamps, 18" Aluminum Alloy Wheels, Scuff Plates, and XRS Badging.

The 2011 Toyota Matrix will likely receive slight modifications to its grille and front fascia, minor changes to its taillamps, and perhaps new wheel designs. . Revisions to passenger-compartment textures and graphics would be welcome, too. Otherwise, this 2011 Toyota will retain the shape and size the second-generation Matrix sported when it debuted as a 2009 mode. 

That means a slightly disheveled collection of arcs and angles on a vehicle that’s taller than the typical compact car but not as long overall. Matrix’s shape translates to great head room and lots of cargo space, though rear-seat knee clearance is modest. Newer arrivals to the category of hard-to-define mobility boxes tend to be less lengthy still, and taller, too. These include the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, and, from Toyota’s own youth brand, the Scion xB. Matrix’s competitive set, however, is broad enough to include compact four-door hatchbacks like the Mazda 3 and true compact wagons, like the Hyundai Elantra Tourin.

None of these rivals offers AWD, though. Just 10 percent of Matrix buyers choose it over the standard front-wheel-drive, but having AWD available does qualify Matrix as a sensible on-road alternative to bulkier compact SUVs. One competitor the 2011 Matrix won’t have to contend with is the very vehicle more like it than any other: the Pontiac Vibe. A Matrix with different (and nicer-looking) sheet metal, the Vibe has been discontinued along with the Pontiac brand.

Every 2011 Toyota Matrix will have the brake-override system, which is designed to cut engine power if the accelerator and brake pedals are applied simultaneously. Toyota is poised to make some changes beneath the hood of the 2011 Corolla, and since Matrix shares the same selection of four-cylinder engines, it should receive similar treatment. 

The entry-level 2011 Matrix is likely to again be called the Matrix Standard and should carry on with a 132-horsepower 1.8-liter engine rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque (Think of torque as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.) However, the 2011 Toyota Matrix S and sporty 2011 Toyota Matrix XRS models are apt to exchange a 158-horsepower 2.4-liter for a 169-horsepower 2.5-liter. Already used in the midsize Toyota Camry, the 2.5-liter would have only marginally more torque than the 2.4, 167 pound-feet to 162. But the 2.5 is a newer design that should deliver better gas mileage. Fuel economy would further improve if Toyota upgrades the automatic transmission available in the Matrix S and XRS models, from a five-speed to a more efficient six-speed, as in the Camry. 

The automatic used in the 2011 Matrix with the 1.8-liter engine will almost certainly remain a four-speed, for cost-savings. All these models will likely continue with a five-speed manual transmission as standard. They’ll also come with front-wheel drive, which places the weight of the engine over the driven wheels to the benefit of traction in wet conditions. AWD is an alternative exclusive to the Matrix S model. Not intended for off-road use, the system is designed to maximize traction on wet or snowy pavement. It automatically reapportions power to the rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip, then reverts to front-wheel drive when grip is restored. A four-speed automatic has been the only transmission available on AWD Matrix S models. 

Toyota will need to determine if fuel-efficiency gains would offset the added cost of any 2011 Matrix powertrain revisions. But upgrades would help performance, too. Currently, the Standard model can feel slightly underpowered and driving a Matrix really is entertaining only when you combine the XRS with manual transmission. Toyota already enhanced Matrix’s safety equipment for model-year 2010, making an antiskid system – also known as stability control -- standard on every model, not just the XRS.

Toyota will not announce 2011 Matrix prices until shortly before the car goes on sale. But even with a new engine and possible new transmissions, 2011 Matrix prices won’t climb much above model-year 2010 levels. (Base-price estimates in this review take into account the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee. Toyota’s fee for factory-delivered cars was $750 for model-year 2011; Toyotas in some southeastern states are delivered by independent distributors and may carry different destination fees.)

The best-selling model in the 2011 Matrix line should again be the Standard. Estimated base price for the 2011 Toyota Matrix Standard is $17,450 with the five-speed manual transmission and $18,260 with the four-speed automatic.

Expect 2011 Toyota Matrix S pricing to start around $19,500 with manual transmission, $20,700 with automatic. Power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, a household-type power outlet, and a leather-covered steering wheel with audio controls should again be among S-model upgrades over the Matrix Standard. Estimated base price for the Toyota Matrix S AWD is around $21,800.

The 2011 Toyota Matrix XRS prices would start at an estimated $21,840 with manual transmission, $23,100 with automatic. Positioned as the sportiest Matrix, the XRS has included 18-inch tires instead of its stable mates’ 16s or 17s. And the XRS and the AWD S are the only Matrix models with a handling-oriented independent rear suspension instead of a budget-conscious torsion-beam setup.

Returning as key options for the 2011 Matrix should be a Power Package that brings the Standard model close to S-level equipment for around $1,000. Toyota could decide to add cruise control to the 2011 Matrix Standard or S model instead of charging $250 extra as it did for model-year 2010. A power sunroof should continue as an option on all 2011 Matrix models for around $900. The navigation system will probably again be confined to Matrix S and XRS models, where it has been available for about $1,800 and $1,300, respectively.

Mileage estimates for the 2011 Matrix had not been announced in time for this review. But with no expected change in powertrain the 2011 Toyota Matrix Standard’s fuel-economy rating should remain 26/32 mpg city/highway with manual transmission, 25/31 with automatic.

If the 2011 Toyota Matrix S and XRS get the larger engine and it’s coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of a five-speed, expect these models to squeeze out another mile per gallon or two in both city and highway driving compared to their 2010 counterparts, which were rated at 21/29 mpg city/highway. Similarly, an engine and transmission change to the 2011 Matrix S AWD would better its chances of improving the 2010 version’s rating of 20/26 mpg.

Manual transmissions account for a miniscule percentage of Matrix sales but the prospect of improving overall fuel-economy averages could drive Toyota to upgrade from a five-speed manual to a six-speed for the 2011 Matrix S and XRS. That would improve their chances of beating the 2010 versions’ rating of 21/28 mpg.

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