2009 Toyota Matrix XRS

Don Sherman Jeffrey Jablansky

My wallet reels at the prospect of spending nearly $23,000 for a loaded Matrix. It's a pleasant mix of snappy style, dependability, gas mileage, and utility but doesn't excel in any particular category. And 20 large opens up a wealth of possibilities in the used car supermarket: lovingly-maintained Bimmers, full-sized pickups, and rumbling Mustangs galore.

While I own a dog and frequently haul purchases home from the big box stores, the crossover and SUV segments never seem to prompt a "buy me" itch. Few dogs care a whit about their means of transportation as long as the occasional ice-cream treat is involved. Piling building materials and landscaping supplies into elegantly finished interior space inevitably leaves a mess, permanent scuff marks, or both.

The Matrix is neither crossover fish nor SUV foul. It's a small wagon that never commits to driving fun, hauling utility, or sexy style. If it had a more efficiently configured cargo hold (a lower liftover, room for an upright bike) or a turbo under the hood (read MazdaSpeed3), I could get interested. So please wake me when/if the Matrix takes its job seriously.

Don Sherman, Technical Editor

New Car Research

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