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Toyota Matrix.... Pre purchase research

johnkarnjohnkarn Posts: 11
edited April 2014 in Toyota
Ok, so here's the deal. We think that the Matrix may be the best vehicle for us (from a fuel economy standpoint); we know that the Pontiac Vibe is the same thing. Assuming we want a USED vehicle with similar characteristics (fuel economy and reliability primarily); what OTHER vehicles should we consider? We are looking for something post 2000 model year, that is 2WD, and has an Automatic Tranny, beyond that we also want something that is low mileage.


  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,242
    I think the Vibe/Matrix are in their own category. The only similar vehicles are the new Honda Fit and Nissan Versa. for us, the Fit felt much smaller inside, and the Versa didn't have fold-flat back seats. I did a lot of research, also wanting a used vehicle, and we wound up buying a 2004 base Vibe with AT. We've been very happy with it so far. We wanted good fuel economy and loved the fold flat hard plastic back seats for dogs and carting other things around.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • Thanks.. What about the Mazda3 5 door?

    Also, when I go shopping; I would like to take a copy of the Kelley Blue Book with me, but I may not be able to get my hands on a current copy at the library (generally current issues are kept on hand as non circulation reference). Say I get a copy that is dated 2005; is there a general rule of thumb that I can deduct x percentage for each year the book is out of date? Say it gives a value of $10,000 for a given vehicle, but the book is dated for 2005 and not 2007; can I reasonably deduct 5% for each year it is out of date (taking a total of 10% or $1000 off the listed value)
  • Take a wi-fi enabled laptop, phone or pda. Then you can use the KBB online. Beg borrow or steal if you have to.

    In my case, since I don't have ready access to the internet when I'm outside, I will research the few vehicles I want to shop and kbb print out several examples for each. I will also avoid buying right this minute. Most deals will wait until I get home, get a chance to validate it, and maybe then call back for a final haggle. I feel more in control of the outcome that way.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,242
    wonderful car but will not do nearly as well as the Matrix on fuel economy.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • I do think that the Honda Fit is a good choice (I have had nothing but Honda Motorcycles over the last 20 years), but the model is too new to have a lot of them in the used pool. Same goes for the Nissan Versa.

    I am thinking that the Ford Focus would also be in the group of models competitive to the matrix. What other models fit that category that have model years between 2000 and 2005? I am not necessarily closed to anything but the Toyota; my main focus is economy primarily, followed closely by reliability and design.
  • The Fit looks like a great economy car, but just a little lightweight and underpowered for my taste, plus the fuel tank is a little small even with good mpg. The Versa looks like a very good choice for an economy car, but I am put off by the less than practical hatch loading access because of the extreme taper of the hatch opening. The Focus ZX5 Hatchback looks about perfect to me, with excellent fuel economy plus 14 gal tank (= great driving range), large cargo area with easy access hatch. I'm quite annoyed that Ford dropped it in the '08 lineup.

    I've been driving a '97 Escort LX Wagon 5-spd Manual for 10 years, now nearing 150k miles, and it is the direct ancestor of the Focus hatch and wagon models. NO major repairs, except the predictable timing belt and water pump replacement at 120k ($6-700), a couple of emission system sensors recently ($3-400), and too frequent brake service because too much heat builds up on the standard front rotors, causing warping that needs to be trued out. That's not bad and I didn't need the extended warranty I had on the car.

    If I didn't need to stay with the narrower width of the Focus (sim to Fit and Versa), I would consider the Vibe/Matrix strong values at just slightly higher cost. They are 3" wider and would use up a little more of the tight clearance in our small garage than my wife will be comfortable with.
  • If there is a place where I can post what I am looking for, and where I am looking for it, that dealers would look at and respond to? I am trying some reverse marketing and put out there what I am looking for so I can start negotiating an out the door price. I simply believe that dealers should compete for my business and I do not have the time to search to find what I am looking for, do my research on what I found, and then contact the dealer to be stonewalled with a simple lack of response. Unlike my experience when I bought my last motorcycle, I knew the players and contacted each one directly by email before ever setting foot in the place; but I had them competing against one another and got a great deal:

    I got the bike, the extended warranty, the priority maintenance agreement, the taxes and tags paid, the cover, a matching set of helmets with headsets included and still paid over 1000 less than factory invoice on a bike that only had 5 miles on it. I sold it a couple of years later for more than I paid for it with 40,000.

    I am simply trying to get similar results with a car, but I am also trying to save time.

    It seems to me that the customer service standards at a car dealer are different from what you would find at a motorcycle dealer; and it's sad.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    You don't say where you are, but if you are close to DC you can see if has what you are looking for. No hassle online shopping, with their inventory and prices a click a way.
  • I have begun my search for a used Toyota Matrix Xr 2WD(2006, 2007 model). I have been saving for a Matrix for a long time! What sold me on the Matrix over the Corolla was how much you can fit in the Matrix and the potential to take it camping.

    I need advice. After reading the forums, I am a little discouraged about what I have complaints regarding the Matrix transmission. I noticed the complaints were mainly the 03' and 04' models; are the later model tranny's better? I don't know if I should buy an automatic or manual transmission? I fear the automatic 1.8L is a slug, is this true? I don't even know if I should continue to look for a Matrix? Is the Corolla a better car? I am loyal to Toyota. My current car is a 1990 Toyota Camry....can I get this long of a life out of a Matrix?

    Thank you.
  • irismgirismg Posts: 345
    I just thought I'd mention that I'm a farly tall woman, and I sat in a new generation Matrix and found it uncomfortable. My right knee seemed jammed against the dash/console.

    Interestingly, sitting in a 10th generation Corolla was just fine, plenty of room, like being home. I think the shape of the dash is just different enough to make a difference. So I share this in case you think Matrix and Corolla are identical, I find this is not true! I can't speak to the earlier versions, though, just the '09s, which are old enough now to be reasonable on the used market.

    Happy shopping!
  • irismgirismg Posts: 345
    You have to keep in mind that Matrixes and Corollas are no longer Japanese cars, like they were when my '98 came out. I think I saw a 40% on the window sticker last Sunday. I don't know how long it's been that way, but I consider it a change for the worse. That said, I believe that if you stick with later models you'll be fine.

    Test the 1.8 for yourself to see if it's fast enough for you. Brand loyalty is really not necessary this day and age, buy what you need instead. If you are considering a Corolla rather than a Matrix, for example, then it sounds like you haven't decided if you need a car that can carry things besides people or not. Determine what you need FIRST. Also, if you looking at a car with a CVT, like a Nissan Versa or Rogue, a Prius, a Jeep Compass, or a Dodge Caliber, bear in mind that you will have to change slightly the way your foot talks to the car to make it go, as the traditional way of stomping on the accelerator doesn't yield the same results! Also for the last 10 years or so since fuel-injected cars were the norm, you must never pump the accelerator to start them or you create expensive problems for yourself and for the car's next owner. Simply bump the key, let it idle for 5 minutes, and go.

    Anyway, hope my two cents is helpful...
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Simply bump the key, let it idle for 5 minutes, and go.

    Umm, except in subzero weather, 15 seconds ought to do it....

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

  • irismgirismg Posts: 345
    Thanks for the clarification. Here in the southern plains, we rarely get subzero weather.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Where I am in California, we don't even have sub-freezing weather, let alone subzero weather. And I don't even do 15 seconds of warmup in the morning, I just start it and go.

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

  • irismgirismg Posts: 345
    Well OK. I guess I like mine nice and warm before I start off. Point being, you don't have to start the car and go back into the house to let cars warm up for 15 minutes like you used to. To me, 5 minutes is a very short period of time.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    No, you definitely don't need to do 15 minutes. And if you idle it for five minutes in the morning, just be aware that it is significantly reducing your fuel economy. Certainly, I could understand it might be a worthwhile trade-off for you, having a warm car to get into. :-)

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

This discussion has been closed.