The 2011 Toyota Matrix S compact five-passenger wagon improves on its Base sibling with a larger powerplant, as well as a number of additional standard features and option packages. The Matrix S trim is also available in a full-time all-wheel-drive (AWD) version. A somewhat offbeat appearance, meanwhile, is complemented by 16-inch steel wheels outside, while inside this top-shelf trim boasts cloth upholstery and front bucket seats with a fold-flat front passenger-side seatback for some additional cargo space on top of its 49 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Further standard amenities include remote power door locks, cruise control, and air conditioning, all accented by a simulated alloy steering wheel with mounted audio and cruise controls, as well as simulated alloy dash trim. The six-speaker audio system stars an MP3-compatible single-CD player, while phone pre-wiring allows for easier communication on the road.
Options for the flagship Matrix S trim include the S Sport Package, with 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear underbody spoilers, and a color-keyed rear spoiler. Also available is the Premium Package, with a power tilt-and-slide moonroof, XM satellite radio, and Bluetooth wireless technology.
Speaking of technology, the 2011 Matrix S trim, along with the rest of the Toyota lineup, receives standard Smart Stop Technology. This system, a response to Toyota's safety woes of last year, automatically slows engine revs when the brake and accelerator pedals are pressed at the same time. The Smart Stop system is complemented by 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, and front head-restraint whiplash protection. Additionally, the S trim sports standard front fog/driving lights, as well as daytime running lights.
Power for the 2011 Matrix S is provided by the standard variable-valve-timed (VVT) 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine, with a 5-speed manual transmission standard as well. The AWD S trim sports a mechanical limited-slip center differential, along with a standard, if a bit dated, 4-speed automatic transmission that leaves reviewers scratching their heads at its resulting 20/26 mpg. EPA estimates for the stick-shift S trim, meantime, are 21/28, and for the five-speed automatic, 21/29.