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Toyota Matrix vs. Pontiac Vibe - Compare Notes



  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    I like my car, so I guess I will keep it a while...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • beaterbeater Member Posts: 16
    Has anyone had occasion to install a trailer hitch on their Vibe yet? I have been looking and no one in my area stocks one although they all will special-order if I pay in advance. I have no problem with that except they can't tell me if they will have to make any cuts on the fascia around the rear bumper to provide access to the hitch. They tell me that I cannot get a refund on special orders so if it takes cutting the fascia, too bad. Since my interest in the hitch is only to support a bicycle carrier, I don't want to have any permanent alterations made to the car. It looks like without cutting the fascia, the hitch might be too close to the ground but I'm not sure. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who's installed a hitch who can answer my concerns. I'd also appreciate knowing what kind of hitch they went with and how to order it and whether it bolted into existing holes in the frame or required drilling or welding.
    Thanks in advance.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Saw a new Vibe at the mall last night. The owner said she ordered a hitch from http://www.etrailer.com made by draw-tite. She is getting it installed this weekend. I will keep my eye out for it when she gets it done and report back.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    Your post slipped in right before mine. Thanks for the feedback. ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • beaterbeater Member Posts: 16
    Thanks for the timely response to my plea. I've called GM and Toyota and they do not make nor do they plan to offer any hitches. I can understand their position. Not many folks ought to be thinking about towing much with a 130HP engine. I just don't like to mess with a roof-mounted bike rack. So, I'll keep an eye out at this topic to see what develops.

    Thanks again
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Caught up with the Vibe at the mall. Hitch is on. No drilling required, three threaded holes in the rear frame line up with the hitch, just screw in the three bolts. Looks like if you had the right wrench at home you could install it yourself the day you needed it. 1-1/4" box, that may efect the bike racks you can put in. http://www.etrailer.com
  • beaterbeater Member Posts: 16
    I read your response in the Vibe topic before I came here. Thanks for the info. I assume the installation didn't require cutting the plastic fascia around the rear bumper. I'll order one and try to install it myself. Thanks again for your timely input.
  • frenchcarfrenchcar Member Posts: 247
    Sold my Focus ZTS, closely checked out Mazda, Elantra GT and then Vibe and Matrix but ended up buying a Suzuki Aerio SX and we are glad we did. Far more comfortable, sits high, better vision, peak torque comes in at a useable 3000 rpm, has a 2 stage self adjusting timing chain, liquid filled motor mounts, direct ignition, good load space, is getting more zippy all the time. No problems. We have owned Toyota, Pontiac and Suzuki in the past along with 13 other brands at one time or another. Suzuki is reliable, very few recalls and Import Tuner Magazine is doing a project on one of them. Check them all out before making your decision. Car and Driver is all wet this time and I will tell them so even though I subscribe to it.
  • joelisjoelis Member Posts: 315
    Its kinda in the same boat as the Aztek - meaning that its hard to look at with those little wheels on the four corners of a poor fitting (appearance wise at least) box.

    But, you DO get what you pay for in this case.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    seeing more vibes on the streets in my area. And now the local Pontiac dealer has a bunch of vibes on the lot, whereas it is still next to impossible to find any matrices at the Toyota dealer, except a couple of base models with the plastic wheel covers.

    I thought Toyota was the king of adding unwanted options to beef up the price - I stopped by the Pontiac lot, and those vibes are mostly stickered above $20K. At least the Toyotas I have seen so far have been in the $18K range...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • yamahar6yamahar6 Member Posts: 23
    Does anyone know if the clutch on the six speed matrix/vibe is the same as on the Celica GT-S?

    I know that the 6 spd. and the engine is the same, but I have heard (from edmunds' long term of the GT-S) taht the clutch is "difficult."

    Personally, when I test drove the Vibe GT, I stalled it - twice, something I usually never do, both times it was at a stopped position - oh well, perhaps I was just not concentrating.
  • pjr99pjr99 Member Posts: 2
    Just took delivery of my Vibe GT.....It was an ordeal to get it with the Moons and Tunes package. So far, so gooooood. In ref to the above post, I find the clutch very smooth.

    Any thoughts on Eibach springs to lower the car 1.5" or should I be looking elsewhere??

    Seems like


    has a set to drop it 2" and will offer a rear sway bar in approx. 2 weeks. I found this info on the Generation Vibe Forum:


    Thanks in advance for any info.

    Phil R
  • beaterbeater Member Posts: 16
    I ordered a Draw-Tite hitch for my vibe thru etrailer.com. Cost with shipping was $98.82. Delivery took about 7 working days. The installation was no problem. There are 6 existing holes with weld nuts in the frame of the Vibe. You align the hitch with its 6 holes with those and install the 6 bolts which come with the hitch. The hitch is about 20 lbs so it helps to have somebody help you hold it until you get the first two bolts installed. Total time was under 15 minutes.

    It should be noted that the instructions indicated that Toyota matrix models, except for the base model, would require removing part of the fascia in order to complete the installation.
    Hope somebody finds this information useful.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    and congrats on your new Vibe GT! Here's a direct link to our ongoing Pontiac Vibe discussion where you can share notes with other Vibe owners/enthusiasts. We look forward to hearing more about your ownership experience. Happy motoring!

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    that the best small car from GM is actually from Toyota! I give GM ten more years in business making cars!!! LOL

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • johnclineiijohnclineii Member Posts: 2,287
    Laugh away, Nippononly. When you are done, we will tell you that Vibe/Matrix was actually a GM idea, and most of the execution, particularly of the interiors, was also GM.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Member Posts: 1,265
    That is absurd.
  • steine13steine13 Member Posts: 2,818
    How's twenty sound? It took them over twenty years to "improve" market share from just under 60 percent to less than half that... and "if present trends continue", the idea isn't so absurd after all. I'm not saying it'll happen, and don't want it to (major employer in my area, for one thing), but it's not impossible.
    Personally, I think they build decent trucks (and excellent transmissions), but the only GM _car_ I would consider owning is the Vibe, which they don't build, and whose mechanicals they didn't design.
    Your Malibu/Grand Am/Le Sabre/... all look and feel as if they'd been designed by committee -- not just one, but least 3 different committees. The new Caddys look distinctive; let's see how they hold up. But Cadillac isn't going to save GM's bacon; they need to build good, pleasant, modern automobiles. Good luck...
    East Lansing, MI
  • johnclineiijohnclineii Member Posts: 2,287
    Two years ago I might have agreed.

    Today, I will just post as my rebuttal:


    TWO YEARS. In two years NO current GM car model will have been unchanged. Pretty amazing.

    Time will tell what the effect will be.

  • protegextwoprotegextwo Member Posts: 1,265
    "... and "if present trends continue", the idea isn't so absurd after all."

    Well, Mathias I don't see myself making a GM vehicle purchase in the near future, ether. Nonetheless, do not underestimate the Chevy brand loyalty that many many Americans consider a "birthright". Chevy trucks, SUV and vans will still sell well in our country for at least a couple of decades, lol! BTW, can I interest you in my co-workers 1997 Chevrolet Suburban, he will give you a good deal....

  • dindakdindak Member Posts: 6,632
    With a name like "nippononly". you know this guy hates anything not made in Japan.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    I just happen to have a soft spot for japanese products!

    The first car I ever owned new was a Saturn S-series - the import fighter from America! Of course, that was a mistake, but...........

    BTW, I don't really think GM will be out of the car business in ten years...it is just that SO LITTLE of the Vibe is GM and SO MUCH is Toyota...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    Here's a direct link to Edmunds' road test of the 2003 Pontiac Vibe GT. What do you think?


    Thanks for your comments!



    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards

  • ztzzztzz Member Posts: 16
    Edmund's road test of the Vibe GT incorrectly states that:

    "both the Vibe and Matrix are built at the same assembly plant in Fremont, Calif. where Corollas are also made."
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    My Matrix was built in Ontario, wasn't it?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • steals32steals32 Member Posts: 2
    Have a young active family. I'm wondering if this car is too small to haul a child in the back seat, as well as a large running stroller or large luggage cases.
    I'm getting tired of stuffing things into a sedan trunk.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Not an owner yet but a father of two, so I understand. Split folding rear seat should solve the size of the stroller problem, and plenty of cargo tie downs to secure it and other things. Take the stroller down to the dealers and check the cars out. I know there are some Vibe owners with young children, hope they post next. Good luck.
  • steals32steals32 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the info. Have you compared the Vibe/Matrix with other similar vehicles? Any thoughts on storage, family usability?
  • edchenedchen Member Posts: 31
    If the stroller can fit sideways then you shouldn't have a problem. The rear cargo space is a bit vertically challenged since the hatch slopes forward and the rear seat slopes backward. For, example a squarish item like a monitor box would not fit. Large luggage on the other hand should fit fine. If you need to lower one of the rear seats to make more cargo room, most likely the larger side, then you will only have room for one child seat in back.

    Like montanafan says though, go to your dealer and bring the stroller and luggage if they fit in your current car and see for yourself.
  • CapeCodCapeCod Member Posts: 117
    Has anyone found a good trunk liner for the Vibe ??? The hard surface is too slippery !
    Would prefer a light weight fabric...
    washable, rattle proof, etc....
    Am thinking of making by own !
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    sells a cargo mat for the Matrix for about $50 retail. It is washable, lightweight, rattle proof, and groceries will not slide around when it is installed. When you want the hard surface instead, you simply roll it up and stash it...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • winterdriverwinterdriver Member Posts: 1
    I am seriously considering the purchase of an AWD Matrix, but I live in north eastern CA, in the Sierra Nevadas (ever heard of the Donner Party??) and snowfall is considerable. I have alot of faith in the Matrix in most lousy-weather scenarios, but has anyone had to plow through deep snow in the thing? (12" or more). There will undoubtly be days when the town plow won't make it to my street before I do, and I'll be climbing up 5 miles (some @ 10% grade) in deep snow. I will be putting the best studded snow tires on my car and am a very experienced winter driver, but I'm concerned about the clearance of the Matrix. Anyone have real snow experience last winter (or this one, for that matter...) with their Matrix? Also, does the AWD do its job??
  • toyotakentoyotaken Member Posts: 897
    There probably won't be too many people who have had alot of experience in the snow in a Matrix as of yet as they came out about April of this year. However, from experience I have had driving AWD versions of the celica, camry, and corolla back when they did have them, a BIG determining factor for getting through the snow is clearance. Especially where the snow gets pretty deep. (I live in Buffalo, NY) The older camry's and corolla's had a pretty decent amount of clearance, and handled pretty well in the snow up to about 6" - 8" even when the typically shoddy plowing here in Buffalo wasn't keeping up with the snowfall. The AWD celicas back then didn't do quite as well.

    The good thing about the base or XR AWD Matrix is that it does not have all of the ground effects of the XRS model, so should do a bit better. Plus it has narrower, all season tires. From my experience, narrower treads tend to handle snow better as well. I would hazard to guess that it will do quite well especially if you get a snow-specific tire on it. There are many times when we're clearing the lot after a big snowfall overnight when our Landcruisers, 4-Runners and most of the other vehicles we have are stuck until we plow/shovel them out, but the RAV-4's just plow right through. The only time we've had most of them really stuck was last year when we had the 7 feet of snowfall in 48 hours. *LOL* and I don't think we can blame the vehicles for that. Hope this helps
  • zukhovzukhov Member Posts: 34
    A foot of snow or more. Ah...I haven't driven it in snow, but it sounds like you are in need of something different. Remember this vehicle is not permamnent 4 wheel drive. It kicks in when it detects a wheel slipping from start up. I'm sure it will be a trooper with the studded tires and all, but I'm not sure it will meet your demanding requirements.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    Which is it? When we bought a 4WD Matrix the dealer said it was full-time 4WD rather than an AWD system like the Subaru system or the old Toyota All-Trac. The sales booklet say "full-time 4WD" -- which would be like the system in German cars.

    Ground clearance for the Matrix is listed at 5.9 inches. When my wife and I saw that figure, after we agreed to buy one, we were concerned that we would scrape on the bump at the end of our driveway. Our '94 Corolla has scraped when fully loaded, and our '87 Nova (aka CA-built Corolla) scraped regularly. But we haven't had a problem with the Matrix. Does anyone know what it is that only 5.9 inches from the ground?
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    The Matrix/Vibe is not 4WD. Generally 4wd operate one set of wheels (most common-rear) until the 4wd is activated manually, or recently automaticlly. Generally, 4wd feature a low range which is good for beaches or off road. Many AWD, such as the Subaur, feature full time four wheel power, split 50/50. Some systems allow for more power to the end with the best traction when needed. The Matrix/Vibe system is front wheel drive until slip is noticed at which point power is split 50/50 to the rear. When back under control, power returns to just the front.. So it is not 4WD, not a Subaru style AWD.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    the Toyota system is 90/10 front to rear in normal conditions, like Subaru automatics. The Subaru manuals use a different system that is 50/50 all the time. Both systems, and Toyota's too, wait until wheel slip is detected before transferring power between wheels, which makes them different from "real" 4WD, which is simply driving all four wheels the same all the time unless it has a Torsen center differential, like the new 4Runner does, in which case it can skew that power back and forth as needed, while maintaining 40/60 front to rear under normal conditions.

    The AWD Toyotas (currently RAV4, Matrix, Highlander) and the automatic Subarus use computer sensors to detect when wheels are slipping and then use an electronic clutch to divert more power to the wheels with grip. As such, they are reactive rather than proactive, and is certainly not full-time 4WD, in the sense it is used by the Germans for their cars.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    So if the rear wheels are always receiving at least 10% of the drive power, the book technically is correct when it says Matrix has full time 4WD? I think this might be a better system, but it's amazing that a salesman would say it's the same system used by Audi and VW.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    but the AWD of this type is too slow to react to things such as, say, icy patches on the road. By the time the system reacts, you have passed the icy spot.

    OTOH it will certainly be enough to scramble up an icy driveway at your favorite ski resort!

    It is TOTALLY not the same as Audi's Quattro system with the Torsen center. That is a mechanical gear apportioning torque front to back, and operates fronts and rears near a 50/50 ratio depending on conditions.

    The advantage to the Toyota system is gas mileage, at the expense of a little 4WD traction.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • mailman54mailman54 Member Posts: 111
    CapeCod: Pontiac sells a rear cargo mat made out of rubber that covers the entire cargo area behind the front seats. It should help prevent stuff from sliding around. I've ordered one to keep my dogs from sliding around the back. Don't know if they have one for just the trunk area.

  • rrjd111rrjd111 Member Posts: 3
    I need help in deciding to buy ether a vibe or Matrix? I would prefer the Matrix 4WD even though it will cost $2,000 more to purchase. The problum is that I can order the Vibe with the Nav System and no alloy wheels,on the Matrix according to the dealers I must take the Alloy wheels and the Nav system is not offered on the XR $4WD in this area.I Need advice.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    Toyota options up its cars so that if you want one specific option, you have to buy a truckload of stuff you don't want.

    I know you can get base Matrix (wheel covers) with AWD, because I have seen some around. That may just be in my area of course.

    My advice would be to approach the biggest dealer in your area, and ask if they will either order you the car you want (long wait, not 100% guaranteed) or get you one from a dealer in another area where different option combos are available.

    But then, why not just get the Vibe? What is it about the Matrix that you prefer, and is it something you could live without?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • rrjd111rrjd111 Member Posts: 3
    The reason I would prefer Matrix over Vibe is because of the better resale and Matrix comes with Leather Wrappped Streeing wheel. Do You think the Nav system is the price?
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    and I would prefer to save my money and use a map, but if you like that sort of thing, it seems to be comparably priced to other nav systems in other cars...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • LuzerLuzer Member Posts: 119
    I wanted a cheap afford able car for commuting.

    I am a Toyota Fan, means Corolla was the choice.

    I like the Matrix for the usability of fold down etc - but this was too steep at an extra $2000+

    Things that changed my mind -

    1) $2000 from GM.

    2) $1050 off the MSRP (about $350 over Edmunds invoice of $18602, but about $50 over the dealer invoice at the place, which included advertising cost and some other BS which total about $300)

    3) $700 discount on options pkg, listed on sticker.

    MSRP was $20005.

    I will pay $18550.

    Base Vibe with:

    Auto Tranny

    Moons and Tunes

    Power pkg

    6 CD changer

    Aluminum wheels

    Side Air Bags

    They're adding in wheel locks and cargo net gratis.

    Working backwards:

    $20550 - $2000 cash rebate= $18550.

    Starting from $20550 -

    - $299 doc fee (here's their profit!!)

    - $159 tags, reg etc (I get back balance)

    $20092 - 6% tax = $18954.71

    Use $18954 for reference as to my price paid before Tax, Title Doc etc.

    Tax in my state is calculated on the $2000 cash as well.

    A previous deal was $900 under MSRP of $19100.

    (no al wheels and CD changer) But that car had 150 miles. We checked after the price was set.

    Note also GM increase prices recently. Base is up $25, option pkgs up $25 each; Al wheels $40 increase. Edmunds reflects new pricing. Older priced cars are still around - not sure when increase happened.

    If you've read this far, try this site -


    Test drive for yourself.

    Car and Driver comparo rated this 5th out of 6, not too good, in April(?), 2002 issue.

    Seats were an issue to them.

    My thoughts - a little under power, but so what.

    Good overall for the next 15 years.

  • LuzerLuzer Member Posts: 119
    If comparing with Toyota Matrix -
    Use $18954 for reference as to my price paid before Tax, Title Doc etc

    But don't forget GM's $2000 back.
  • rrjd111rrjd111 Member Posts: 3
    The Matrix is for my wife who states that she has no sense of direction and a man would he would rather use a map and save the money!In addition the Toyota's extented warrenty has MSRP of $900.00 for the 7/75/0"0" deduct Platinim Plan vs GM's Major Guard Plan same coverage MSRP $2513.00. So Comparing The Matrix vs Vibe, Vibe is more expensive to own when comparing the true cost of ownership of both vehicles.
  • montanafanmontanafan Member Posts: 945
    Have been told GMPP Major Guard 72/75 $0 when bought new for Vibe is $1,690 FWD and $1,790 AWD for a MSRP.
  • LuzerLuzer Member Posts: 119
    Was at the dealer yesterday to do the paperwork.
    Finance guy offered the usually "$2500" extended to 75K miles at a GM special price of $995.

    Check AAA plan for extended warranties - should be about $700.

    Friend just bought a Sienna van- extended warranty was asking $995, but came down to $850.

    Everything is negotiable....
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