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Best Mini-SUV Ever Designed by The Saint from El Dorado on 06/15/2009. Trim: 2003 Toyota Matrix XR 2WD, Owned 6 years.
Pros: An attractive vehicle that is very versitile and extreamly rellable. It's 6 years old with 80K miles on it and I still get 30 MPG on the highway. And it is comfortable to drive and ride in. My 6'4" buddy and I went to Alaska, spent almost everyday for four weeks in the car comfortably. The AC/Heating/Vent system is the best design I have seen on any vehicle, being versitile and easy to use. Vents are perfectly designed. The convertable storage area in the rear allows me to fold down the rear seat into a completely flat serface up to the back of the front seats for hauling stuff. The pax seat folds down for that really long lumber, etc. We took all of our camping gear to AK, no problem.
Cons: There are three issues with the 2003 Matrix. Although I like the design of the instrument panel, the instrument lights are red and very hard to see in daylight, especially if one is wearing shades. With the headlights off (note the Matrix's daytime driving lights are on all the time), the instrument light should be green to be seen. And, red only at night. This might have been fixed in the newer models. Secondly, I have the standard AM/FM/single CD player. Its good audio but I wanted an AM/FM/Cassette/multiple CD. It was available but at about $600.00. Way too expensive. Thirdly, the front seat folds down for storage but is not level to the back. A very minor problem in rare instences.
Overall review: This is great car with few minor design problems. If Toyota brings it out in Hybred, I'll buy it. Exceptional storage, passenger space, driving comfort and overall reliability make it the car for me. Daytime driving ights provide for exceptional vehicle visibility for hightened safety; although, the difficulty in seeing the instruments in daylight due to the red instrument light is an issue. The storage space configuration options (split rear seat fold down and passenger seat fold down) provide great flexibility of use. Exceptional gas mileage and mechanical reliability make it super affordable. I have had no mechanical trouble except the standard stuff that is expected of a car of this age and mileage; tires, break pads, etc. The front seat is about 3 inches higher that most sedans and makes it easier to enter and exit. I have praised and recommended the Matrix to many people and will continue to do so. I intend to get a plug-in hybred next time I buy. I hope it can be a Matrix.
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