An all-new, next-generation Toyota Corolla is expected to arrive within the next two years, but there’s still one unknown: will that car again spawn a hatchback variant for North America? New reports suggest Toyota officials are still mulling whether or not to continue the Matrix hatchback for a third generation. Should they?
Hatchbacks do provide additional cargo space and versatility, but they don’t always resonate with buyers — at least not here in America. Ward’s notes sales of the second-generation Matrix, which premiered in 2008, have faltered ever since.
“There’s no change right now on the car,” Bob Carter, general manager and vice president for the Toyota division, recently told Ward’s. “[But] we haven’t made the decision yet.”
Apart from the fifth door, D-pillars, and availability of all-wheel-drive, the Matrix is essentially mechanically identical to the Corolla — in fact, it rides upon the same platform and powertrains.The Matrix — along with its rebadged clone, the Pontiac Vibe — launched in 2002, which wound up being the best sales year for the model. Sales totaled 66,836 in the Matrix’s debut year, and slumped until 2008, when a revamped model boosted sales ever so slightly to 49,567.
Did the refresh double as a remedy? No. In 2009, Matrix volume dropped to 26,121 units; that figure decreased to 14,492 in 2010. Thus far in 2011, Matrix sales are down 37.3 percent, although some of that drop is partly attributed to a post-Japanese earthquake parts shortage.
Perhaps Americans’ taste for non-hatch/wagons is to blame, yet other similar models do manage to outsell the Matrix. For instance, hatchbacks account for nearly 43 percent of all 2012 Ford Focus models sold in the U.S. Interestingly, the Matrix has typically perform better in Canada, where its available all-wheel-drive apparently find favor with some buyers. That said, even the 2011 Corolla has started to outsell the Matrix in the Great White North — albeit only by a small margin.
So the question remains: should Toyota axe the Matrix altogether? Should it nip the model from its U.S. portfolio but continue selling it in Canada? What should Toyota take into consideration if a third-generation model is ultimately green-lighted for production? Share your wish list with the world by means of the comments section below.