So IT Nerd…. Why Did You Buy The Toyota Matrix If You’re Anti-Toyota?

I got an e-mail from a reader of this blog asking the above question. It’s a fair question as I’ve spent a fair amount of time being very mad at Toyota. First over my issues getting my car fixed. Then over the recalls that Toyota has had this year. But it didn’t start out that way. My wife and I were fed up with owning or leasing crappy cars from “the old GM” and we wanted a change. At the time Toyota was the #1 car maker in the world and had a reputation for making quality products. We saw the then new 2009 Toyota Matrix at the Canadian International Car Show in 2008. We were impressed with it for the following reasons:

  • It had the option for front wheel drive or all wheel drive. The latter was “borrowed” from the RAV4 which meant it was a proven system which was a plus for us.
  • Two engine choices exist. A 1.8L four cylinder engine “borrowed” from the Corolla and a 2.4L 4 cylinder engine “borrowed” from the Camry of the day. Again we thought that was good because they were using a proven pair of engines.
  • The platform is a modified version of the Corolla platform. Again, a proven platform which should be a good thing.
  • You can fold the front passenger seat down and stick large objects into the car and close the rear hatch. Plus everything is plastic which is easy to keep clean.
  • The interior space is massive. It is classified as a compact wagon, but feels much bigger.

So with all of that in mind, we test drove it and we cross shopped it against the only other hatchback that had all wheel drive at the time which was the Subaru Imperza. Though Subaru had slightly more horsepower and torque (170/170 vs 158/162 for the Matrix), it was slightly smaller. Thus the Toyota won. You can read about what happened after that.

Now, I’ll be fair. Even with all the problems that we’ve had, we still like the car as it is extremely versatile. If I want to toss a couple of bikes in the back, help someone move, or deliver some computer equipment to a client, it can handle it. It’s easy to park and all wheel drive gives me that extra layer of security. But the recalls, the lack of customer service, and the early electrical problems have really given my wife and I a really negative impression of Toyota. As I type this, we have to admit that we’re unlikely to purchase another Toyota product.

So what would we purchase? If we were looking for another compact wagon with all wheel drive, we’d only have two choices. The aforementioned Subaru Imperza and the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart would jump to the front of the line. Something else that would get some consideration would be the Nissan Juke. I haven’t seen one first hand, but it might be a contender if it were big enough. We’ve been considering something bigger and the Ford Edge has gotten our attention. We test drove a Ford Fusion a while ago and we were really impressed with what Ford is doing.

So I hope that answers that question. If not, post a comment and I’ll answer it. Oh, if someone who works in Canada for Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi, or Ford happens to read this and is willing to show us why their vehicle is a better choice than our current set of wheels, please send some electrons our way. We’re willing to listen. And to be fair, if someone from Toyota Canada is reading this, please drop us a note and tell us why we should give you guys another chance. We’re open minded enough to listen to what you have to say.

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