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Toyota Matrix vs. Pontiac Vibe - Compare Notes



  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I agree with jmcknight. I think the AWD is the best value on the market. It either needs a bit more power, or for the driver to modify their driving habits. The latter is easier to do than most people think. I change my oil with Mobil 1 every 5k.
  • jmcknight2jmcknight2 Member Posts: 47
    - I also use Mobil 1 at approx. 5000-mile intervals. My driving is mixed urban and highway. In October I change to 0w-30 and in April I go with 5w-30. I see there's a 0w-40 grade now, advertized as "European Car Formula".
  • carbonnicarbonni Member Posts: 33
    you said on another board that you need to turn off the overdrive of your AWD Vibe on each hill you drive up. Why do you need to do that?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    carbonni: there simply is not enough HP to get up hills with the AWD. Sure I can punch the gas pedal and have the tranny downshift, but I believe hitting the OD button is the better way to make the tranny last.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    The owner's manual recommends using the OD button if you are towing something because it prevents the transmission from shifting into 4th gear, which is the overdrive gear. If you are in 4th gear already and punch the OD button to force the transmission back to 3rd gear, won't that put more wear and tear on the transmission than simply letting it downshift on its own? The OD button won't prevent downshifting on hills from 3rd to 2nd gear.
  • hudraheadhudrahead Member Posts: 169
    hertzo: True, it can still downshift from 3rd to 2nd if the grade is so steep or load so heavy it just needs more rpm to keep from lugging the engine. If anyone is planning to tow something that heavy then you have no business doing it in such hilly terrain. The Vibe IS a nice vehicle ( I have one) but woefully underpowered in the torque dept. and should not be towing anything in the firsplace. The main benefit of locking out the OD is that it will hold 3rd gear and no "hunt" back and forth between OD and 3rd. What GM should do is make the ECOTEC 2.2 a optional engine choice but maby that is not doable due to the connection with Toyota. Toyota would not like to admit that both the VIBE and MATRIX are way, way underpowered. If you just want to put-put around town or cruise the flatlands they are barely adequate but if you have any mountains (or just hills for that matter)to climb you most likely will not be happy. My wife just loves the car however and would be happy if she had to get out and push it . LOL

    HUD :):)
  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    I don't find my Matrix to be underpowered. I have the XRS version which has significantly more horsepower than the base or XR versions. Torque is about the same though.

    Maybe it's the manual transmission, but I find my car has plenty of zip and I haven't yet had it in the VVTI range over 6k rpm.

    I am still in the break in period and although I am trying to baby it, I find it very hard to do so. The car seems to want to go.

    So far I only have one real complaint. I don't like the speedo markings. The most used range is only the lower left quarter. The range from 0 to 60 feels compressed and the markings aren't where I am used to them.
  • hudraheadhudrahead Member Posts: 169
    capitano: I agree totally about the speedo markings. The car is so quiet that the speed will creep up on you and soon that needle will be @ 12'oclock, not good !!! I got two speeeding warnings before I finally adjusted to the range on the speedo plus you can't really see the darned thing in the daytime anyway. The 04's are supposed to have made some changes as to legibility (lighting) in the daytime but I don't think they changed the position of the numbers, bummer.

    Have you had the dreaded "stinky exhaust" syndrome yet? Most of the time it smells like you are following a septic tank pumper truck ! Have tried different brands of gas per the dealer but it still comes back from time to time.

    HUD :):)
  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    Mine is an 04 and the numbers are white now which does aid visibility.

    I have not had the stinky exhaust syndrome yet. I've tanked up twice using shell 93 octane.

    I have smelled other cars that do (various makes). My 89 Pathfinder had it, but it wasn't totally nauseating. It was a rather distinct smell. Even now I can smell a Pathfinder when one is nearby in traffic.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    if the base engine were the 148 hp 2L from the RAV - two cars with high profiles that weigh approximately the same. Fuel economy would suffer though - about five points probably. That would have me averaging 27, and I wouldn't like that.

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

  • matthew525matthew525 Member Posts: 52
    I don't think so. Now, we're not going to break any land speed records, nor win many quarter miler, but the XRS will get on down the street. I'm often well past 60mph when I realize it and I have to back off to satisfy the spousal unit and avoid the local constabulary. Luckily, she doesn't ride with me often. A slow starter compared to most HP autos, yet, if I wanted an auto that would snap my head off, I would have got the 745i BMW and headed to the autobahns.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    you would have had to try to figure out iDrive...it's probably just as well you didn't! :-)

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

  • matthew525matthew525 Member Posts: 52
    Underpowered thinkers - just found out about the Matrix 1.8L supercharger, manual tranny only. Adds approx 40 additional horsepower; seen costs ranging from $2695 - $2995 plus installation costs. Thoughts? Seems a bit expensive per horsepower added....?
  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    I've seen some talk of it on other sites. Quite a few people seem to think it would be a good idea to get more low-end power out of the matrix base and XR models and as an alternative to getting the XRS model. The downside I see to this it that the XRS has a host of other goodies that the XR does not such as upgraded suspension, disk brakes all around, and ABS. So while the S/C may get an XR to be quicker than the XRS, the XRS IMO represents a better value.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    suspension is the same. Rim/tire package is the same if you have the moonroof too.

    So I guess this means the S/C makes engine output too high to hook up to the auto trans. But I thought the auto in both models was the same? Have not really checked it out though...

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

  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    The suspension designs are the same, but the XRS is dialed in firmer. Not sure if that could be adjusted on an XR without aftermarket parts.

    2004's also allow 17" wheels with moonroofs.

    I think the issue with the S/C is the torque not the HP. The XRS is no longer available with an auto trans. When it was, the torque on the XRS is only marginally higher than that of the XR. With the supercharger the base 1.8l engine is supposed to generate almost 170 lb-ft of torque and the tanny might not be able to handle that.

    The obvious next question is whether the manual transmission in the base and XR versions can absorb that 35% increase in torque. Clutches aren't usually warranty items so maybe Toyota won't care.
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    from what i read only the automatic can get the supercharger.
  • derekgdwderekgdw Member Posts: 51
    Has there been any glaring reliability differences between the two vehicles?

    How about dealership treatment. On the whole are people who buy a Vibe from Pontiac treated just as well by GM dealerships as those who buy a Matrix from Toyota? The dealerships closest to me in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago are O'Hare Pontiac and Scaumburg Toyota. Experiences with either of those two?

    The only real differences I see between the two is the Pontiac has lower resale value (probably due to the mass amounts of rebates and discounts GM offers I would assume yes?), available grey plastic bumpers as opposed to painted, a lower price after rebates, a shorter powertrain warranty, and a navigation system available across the board for those of us who are directionally impaired but don't wish to purchase a car with a manual transmission and a peaky engine. ;-)

    Oh also the insurance rates on the Vibe are slightly (by $4 a month) higher than the Matrix for me. Any clues as to why? All my insurance company can say is that's the price symbol that was assigned to them. *shrugs* Not a big deal at all just curious.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    The Vibe has a roof rack, and the Matrix doesn't. You can't even add the Vibe roof rack to a Matrix, but would have to instead go with aftermarket racks.
  • mattdillonmattdillon Member Posts: 1
    Can anyone tell me if the rear floor of Matrix folds as flat as the Vibe? Can you get the double spoiler on the regular fwd Vibe? Where is the Vibe and Matrix built? Thanks
  • stillageekstillageek Member Posts: 114
    The interiors are exactly the same so yes the Matrix seats fold as flat. The Vibe is built in California at the NUMMI factory while the Matrix is built in Canada at a Toyota Factory which builds the Corolla, Matrix and RX330.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    I'd like to replace one of our current big SUVs with something like a Vibe or Matrix (don't have a real preference, it will depend on price and availability, as I'd like a FWD, probably with a 5-speed).

    Any opinions on the material of the cargo floor? My brother often hauls largish amplifiers (Marshall half stack) and I'm wondering

    a. does cargo slide around more than it would in a vehicle with carpeted floor (which I have now)

    b. are the floors durable (i.e., would said amplifiers likely damage the cargo floor)?
  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    Things do zing around in the back on the hard surface more than on a carpeted surface. I have the cargo mat, but that doesn't seem to have helped much. The nets help a lot though.

    Things slide around on the carpet in my wife's Civic and they slid around in every car I've ever had. I think the reason it gets more attention in the twins is the hard plastic floor makes it a noisier proposition. But the twins have the option for nets, and the tie downs to take care of it.
  • thelthel Member Posts: 767
    I've hauled home cut up sheets of MDF (medium denisty fiberboard for those of you who either aren't wood workers or don't watch Trading Spaces :) in my Matrix. I foolishly relied on the tremendous weight of the material to keep it from sliding around. It worked a bit but I had a moron in a pick-up in front of me slam his brakes and when the MDF slid around it carved some nice gouges in the hard plastic cargo area in several places.

    IMO, the only advantage of the hard plastic cargo area would be the easy cleaning (possibly cost savings as well).
  • luddite649luddite649 Member Posts: 1
    What's the load capacity of the roof rack on the Vibe? Is it compatable with add-on components from some standard manufacturer like Yakima or Thule? Anybody tried carrying something large like a canoe or kayak?

    Finally, what dork of an engineer decided to put the antenna sticking up right in the middle of the roof rack?
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    the antenna was put there by Toyota as part of its design for the Matrix (note that the Corolla is identical). The Matrix does not have an available roof rack. When Pontiac decided it WAS going to have one, you would think they would have moved the antenna somewhere else...

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

  • northernvibenorthernvibe Member Posts: 9
    We haven't tried to tie down anything on our roof rack yet - 2004 AWD Vibe - but we were told that the antenna is "very flexible and won't break." - salesman's words. We said your statement in almost the exact words when we looked at the Vibe and the Matrix on the lots and again to the salesman as we negotiated a price:

    "What idiot engineer decided it was a good idea to put the antenna in the middle of the roof?"

    I hope it can take a kayak or canoe...
  • johnrobertjohnrobert Member Posts: 1
    I own a Vibe --


    So I can tell you that the antenna unscrews completely. If you are going to put something on the roof rack and the antenna is in the way, you can just take it off and put it back on when you are done.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    certainly a pragmatic approach to the problem. Of course, then for long trips where you are carrying something on the roof, you can't listen to the radio. :-(

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

  • billmchalebillmchale Member Posts: 107
    Thats why you have CD players.. I always hate having to change radion stations every 100 miles or so anyway.



  • oacoac Member Posts: 1,594
    Probably bcos the roof rack on the Vibe is simply a design feature not for actual transportation of goods or materials !
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555

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

  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    I would agree with oac except that the Vibe roof rack is indeed functional if you get beyond the antenna issue. But why does the Vibe have a roof rack to begin with? Reasons I have read are (a) it was primarily for reasons of styling, and (b) to clearly distinguish it from the Matrix. If the designers had included the roof rack mainly because they expected people to do a lot of hauling with the Vibe, you would think the antenna would be in the glass. Or maybe a flexible wire mounted on the fender, but I have a hard time imagining the Vibe or Matrix with that kind of antenna.
  • oacoac Member Posts: 1,594
    You didn't say "eh" bcos I am Canadian, did you ?


  • oacoac Member Posts: 1,594
    Bingo !!
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    no, I just didn't get the nature of your response! I thought maybe you were being facetious, but I see from your and herzog's responses that in fact you were not. GM should have moved that antenna, but seems like they cheaped out. Because after all, who buys a car with a roof rack expecting not be able to put anything on it??

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

  • steine13steine13 Member Posts: 2,818
    I'm late to the party here, but I'd like to point out that
    (i) you can indeed unscrew the antenna, and then put it on when the canoe is in place... just don't forget, or you'll break it when you take the boat off... ask me how I know.

    (ii) You can buy cross bars from Thule or Yakima (I've got the latter) and put a canoe on the car, but the spread is marginal... Yakima only recommends putting a couple bikes and a basket up there.

    (iii) You can attach one crossbar to the factory rack and get Q towers and clips for the front... I've done this, and it's very secure for carrying one boat. Use a piece of inner tube to protect the finish from the clip though.. ask me how I know THAT...
    Unfortunately, the load limit with this setup is a lousy 75 lbs., which is ridiculous. I'd love to be able to carry two 60-lb canoes, but no such luck. The Matrix, oddly enough, is allowed to carry 125 lbs with a Yakima carrier. Go figure.

    (who wants his rain gutters back)
  • shane1vshane1v Member Posts: 11
    WHOA! $2800 off the price for having a GM credit card??
    I wonder if I get one and try that with a certified 2004 AWD Vibe....

    How does that discount work?
  • doug716acdoug716ac Member Posts: 1

    I have a GM card that works this way - I earn a 5% rebate on all purchases, up to $500 per year, that can build up for a maximum of seven years. For instance, mine is now $3000 after 6 years and 11 months. They still offer rebate cards, but I do not know if the new ones work this way. One of their cards let you build up more per year, but "caps" the total rebate based on the model (which kinda stinks).

    I am at the end of the "build-up" period so I plan to get something soon - either a colorado or a vibe I guess. Just glad there is one decent choice from GM - this vibe seems good.

    Hope that helps.
  • okmatrixxrsokmatrixxrs Member Posts: 3
    Hello. I recently purchased an 05 XRS and wanted to share my experiences. Both cars seem like very good vehicles, and I was happy to say good by to the baby SUV in favor of the Matrix.

    I seriously considered the Vibe GT. The Matrix I purchased and the Vibe I eyed and drove were both silver, six-speed, 7-speaker sound. The only real difference between the cars is the front end styling. The Vibe GT I was considering was tagged at a "no haggle" $19,900 and the Matrix at a "lets talk" $20,800. I wount up paying $20,200 for the Matrix. The Matrix and Vibe both had the moonroof installed. Add window tint, security system upgrade, and auto-dimming mirror (the Vibe came with the mirror and On-Star package) and the Matrix came out @ $20,700. Thousands of dollars less than the car I gave up and always a blast to drive.

    From the first drives the two cars felt different to me. The Matrix seems more eager to rev and the JBL sound system in the Matrix sounds better to me than the Monsoon sound system in the Pontiac did. The Matrix's engine makes a much better visual presentation than the Vibe (although they spec as being mechanically identical I beleive). Both cars behave as though they are basic, practical transportation. Keep the tach low and they sip gasoline and putter around nicely. The fun begins merging onto a highway or beside a smirking challenger at the light. Get the revs up above 6,000 and keep them there and the car will at the very least hold its own against most everything out there. So even if you are over-ambitious the car at least won't totally embarras you.

    If one were considering a small SUV or small-medium sized pickup I would highly reccommend spending some time with one of these cars. This car will haul while you haul! If you truly enjoy driving then you'll love this car - I reccommend the GT or XRS because having a car with a split-personality is truly a blast! While the 6 speed is no Getrag it has a nice feel to it and allows you to really drive the car.

    I've not stuck a roof-rack on mine. I wouldn't do that to my baby :blush:
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    was a real difference, making the Vibe styling more attractive in my opinion. We bought the Matrix anyway, thinking we could add a factory roof rack from Pontiac. But then we discovered the hatch is not shaped exactly the same and that the roof rack wouldn't fit.
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    We also felt the roof rack added to the appearence, not to mention we may even use it some day. Also the above comparision failed to take into consideration the GM incentives you can apply on top of the "no haggle" pricing. After I negotated my best deal I was able to take off another $3000 in GM credit card points. The Vibe won in looks and price in our opinion.
  • steine13steine13 Member Posts: 2,818
    That Vibe rack is pretty useless... it'd be ok for a bicycle or two. I use it at the base for one "real" Yakima cross bar, and use Q towers in front.

    But it's not very good. Max load is 75 lbs, when the Focus wagon hauls 200 lbs using two cross bars on the factory rack.

    So I'm not sure the rack is a big attraction, but yes, I have hauled one canoe with it successfully. A small Kayak might work OK using just the factory rack + two cross bars on it, but the spread between the bars is very short. I've done it.

    I solved my problem by getting a 2000 Villager. That'll haul anything. Two large canoes, 70 mph, 21 mpg. Who-hoo!
    Anybody need a good used 04 Vibe w/ 15k, cheap? :-)

    04 Vibe base 5sp
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    Again, the main purpose of the rack was for appearance. But it is nice to know I can use it for up to 75 lbs. if I ever need it. If I need to go over 75 lbs. there are solutions from Yakima, Thule, etc.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    Yes, I'll admit that I hardly ever have used roof racks. A Christmas tree here, a sheet of drywall there. That's about the extent of it, and nothing approaching 75 pounds. Now we also have a Highlander with a roof rack, so we're set in that regard. And I'll admit we have been very happy with the Matrix in the 3 years we've had it. Ours is the 4WD with AT, so it lacks the pep others are interested in. But it has been a very good car for a 16-year-old to learn on.
  • vibetrekvibetrek Member Posts: 4
    Have you tried using your roof rack since your 2004 message?

    The designer, and all those who aproved the design, must never have used it. It is quite a impractical spot for an antenna.

  • vibetrekvibetrek Member Posts: 4
    Trying to get used to new car. There seems to be quite abit of window noise. Does anyone else think the car is loud with the windows up?
  • vibetrekvibetrek Member Posts: 4
    Have new Vibe, standard. It seems more than abit bouncey / rough. I have had other 5 doors cars. Has anyone changed the OEM shocks/struts and successfully improved the ride / decrease the bounce shimmy?

  • vibetrekvibetrek Member Posts: 4
    I place plastic tubs in the cargo / trunk area. Sterilite makes grey containers the size of the cargo area. I have 3 medium tubs and a flat crate, 2 by 2, in the rear. Nothing moves. The containers come in a few sizes, including a large one that would fill most of the area. I wanted to use my cargo cover. The medium size ones are short enough for me to do that. However, if you use the lid on the larger ones, you may not want to use the cargo cover.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    yes the Vibe has noisy airflow though the window gaskets. I actually had my driver side gaskets replaced the first month. It helped a bit.
    The Vibe also has a less than satisfying ride. The AWD version has independent rear suspension, which makes a BIG difference in the ride. I test drove both and got the AWD.
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