The Matrix offered a lot of room and many of the virtues of an SUV, such as a little higher driving position, easy access, and optional AWD. You'll find a compliant ride, fairly nimble handling, and effective brakes. Notable shortcomings are a flawed driving position and a noisy engine. Overall, the Matrix offered a good and practical alternative to a small SUV. The Pontiac Vibe is essentially the same car.
Alerts
There are 6 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
Fuel Economy & Emissions
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
NA
2012
NA
2013
NA
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
NA
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
NA
2012
NA
2013
NA
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS, head protection and side air bags standard from 2009. ESC standard from 2010.
Road Test

The Matrix offered a lot of room and many of the virtues of an SUV, such as a little higher driving position, easy access, and optional AWD. You'll find a compliant ride, fairly nimble handling, and effective brakes. Notable shortcomings are a flawed driving position and a noisy engine. Overall, the Matrix offered a good and practical alternative to a small SUV. The Pontiac Vibe is essentially the same car.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
wagon
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 4-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 1.8-liter 4 (126 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2008 Toyota Matrix owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"the inner lining on the driver's front wheel came loose (several fasteners) and the trim dropped onto the tire. Took to the dealer and since no longer under warrenty, had my insurance co pick up the cost"

Emil B., TX (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"The front and rear side panels are plastic. They break loose from each other when bumped. Problem is that you can snap them together but you can't repair them so that they won't separate again with minor challenges."

Anonymous, NY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Loose interior trim or moldings

"trim piece between doors has come off"

George Y., ON (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Hood paint began peeling away and had it repainted in 2014 along with the front bumper cover.The rest of the car is fading but it is exposed to the AZ sun 24-7"

Timothy H., AZ (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"The clear coat just all of a sudden started peeling off of the roof and front bumper and has taken away from the appearance of the car. This happened after warranty expired. The finish was maintained properly, but the finish did not hold up."

Anonymous, FL (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"The paint is getting pits in it on front hood. On top the paint seems to be wearing off."

Anonymous, (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Clear coat started peeling on the bumpers, hood and roof at the beginning of the year which required the car to be completely repainted. It was expensive to have it completely repainted in the summer of 2019."

Anonymous, FL (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Rust

"Rust on the surface of the hood. Rust bubbling up"

Anonymous, ME (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Premature brake wear

"have had break-wear problems at least once each year we've owned the car (2011), but miles driven doesn't seem to justify the problem"

Anonymous, NJ (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Uncertain but could have been premature wearing of front passenger brake pad"

Anonymous, MB (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"brake pad used too fast"

Anonymous, QC (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Regular brake failure

"No problem really. The brakes warned us that they were getting thin by squeaking"

Richard R., TX (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Normal wear of brakes, pads etc"

Anonymous, MA (2008 Toyota Matrix Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Rotors

"Brake pads and rotors (front) were replaced"

Julie G., MA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Not sure if the rotor issue was normal wear or somewhat premature. I can't find the last time I serviced the brakes"

Anonymous, NC (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine mounts

"Worn out. Had to replace all engine mounts"

K W., TX (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Oil leaks

"Req'd replacement of front crank shaft seal. Was leaking"

Anonymous, MB (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Persistent oil leaks even after a couple trips to the shop. Not sure where coming from"

K W., TX (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"seals broken from rough roads"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Oil leaks around oil filter"

Anonymous, ON (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"There was something leaking that they had to take out the engine to reach. So, it was a very expensive repair due to the time it took. When you start getting repair bills like that, it's hard to judge whether I should be thinking about buying a new c"

Betty E., GA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Engine oil leak that was taken care of by removing the cylinder head and machined."

Anonymous, ME (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Clutch replacement

"Clutch was slipping badly, replaced within 8 months of purchase as a used vehicle, purchased warranty did not include clutch repair or replacement"

James O., VA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"The clutch wore out, a bearing went"

Anonymous, ON (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"To be honest, a teen-ager learning to drive wore out the original, 10-year-old clutch. I don't regard this as a Toyota fault."

Robin G., KY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"The mechanic broke an axle seal during the process of replacing the clutch. He did repair it at no cost to me but the car was unavailable for an extra week."

Steven M., WI (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Torque converter

"Torque converter lockup code."

Alan F., PA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission rebuild or replacement

"The clutch catastrophically broke and had to be fully replaced, including the housing, costing over $3000. Parts for the Matrix appear to be unusually expensive for a car of this price range"

Anonymous, VA (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

"Low beams not bright enough"

Anonymous, HI (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Keyless entry

"Back driver side lock doesn't work automatically"

Michelle L., WI (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Tire pressure monitor

"More than one of them were bad and had to be reolaced"

Nick G., OH (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Warning lights

"Check Engine light came on. When checked by mechanic no fault was discovered"

Anonymous, FL (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Wiper motor or washer

"The intermediate settings stopped working and the wipers will not come to rest without fiddling with them both low and high function OK. My mechanic (private) analyzed that the problem is in the switch. There does not seem to be an aftermarket one available and the Toyota replacement is about $200 plus express shipping. I am living with it since I do not anticipate that they will fail completely."

Anonymous, NY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Rear window wiper motor failed and required replacing"

Anonymous, MB (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"here a constant dripping noise when it rains but can not find it"

George Y., ON (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Water pump was leaking."

Richard J., CA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Seals and/or weather-stripping

"Whistling and noisy at the front driver door"

Anonymous, ME (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Squeaks or rattles

"under dash rattle"

Anonymous, AZ (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Wind noise

"Front driver side wind whistles. The dealer says its fine. its loud and unexplained...probably poor fitting door and seal"

Anonymous, ME (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

"The rear door handle on the drivers side broke in half about 4/18/20. It was replaced 4/22/20."

Anonymous, (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Mirrors

"Rear mirror snapped off the window. Side mirror no longer electronically operable"

Christopher I., NY (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Windows

"Driver's side window fell off the track"

Christopher I., NY (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

"Passenger rear door power window does not work. Dealer said the motor has quit functioning. Out of warranty. Have not had it repaired due to cost"

Timothy H., AZ (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Catalytic converter

"The converter itself was OK but the connection point to exhaust pipes was rusted out, so the whole unit had to be replaced at great cost. Was told that the law required that if any part of portion of the converter was bad, the whole unit had to be replaced. Muffler shop gave us a better price than the dealer but it was still very expensive."

Anonymous, NY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Exhaust leaks

"Had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a deer and the exhaust snapped and the replacement cost was $1950.00 to replace complete system."

Anonymous, ME (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Exhaust manifold

"Crack developed in cold weather; caused sensor malfunction and surging of the engine"

Julie G., MA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Loose/rattling heat shield

"Suddenly I heard a rattling noise. After I drove it a couple of miles, I realized it was a problem, but not an immediate danger. When I got home, I looked under the car and found that one or more of the bolts holding the heat shield had rusted through the shield, and that the heat shield was rattling against the exhaust pipe, very scary noise for someone not mechanically inclined. I fixed it with plastic zip ties, which is not a permanent fix, but I don't want to go to the shop to pay a few hundred dollars. I probably will replace the zip ties with stainless hose clamps, surprised they've lasted this long. There isn't a good place to attach the zip ties or hose clamps. I think that this should not have happened, i.e., the heat shield where the bolt was attached should not have rusted through. And it looks like the attachment system is unnecessarily complicated and inconvenient to fix."

Anonymous, VA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveline vibration

"Wheel bearings needed replacement. Must have driven for almost one year with vibrations. Problem was not discovered after numerous check-ups during the year. Once discovered, Mechanic had difficulty replacing bearing assembly due to rust. Mechanic had difficulty with shields that make scraping noises while car turns. Expensive repair that continues to deteriorate and scrape on turns as time progresses"

Anonymous, NJ (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Electrical failure

"Alternator died"

Alan F., PA (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Shocks or struts

"When hitting certain bumps/potholes, the rear of the car will make a LOUD noise of metal hitting metal"

Rob W., CA (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Wheel bearings

"Several yrs ago the right side bearing went, now its the left. Only vehicle I've owned needing wheel bearing replacement. Also the rear wiper shaft and arm failed leaving the wiper stripped on its arm and requiring replacement. 10 yrs and lots of kms so maybe shouldn't complain too much !! Overall been a great, practical, fuel efficient car"

Anonymous, MB (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Radiator

"radiator had a major leak from the seam on right edge. Caused my engine to overheat and blow"

Michael P., NY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Water pump

"It was leaking"

Anonymous, FL (2008 Toyota Matrix XR 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"Needed an emissions test before being licensed and it would not pass and had to be repaired in order to obtain licensing."

Anonymous, ON (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

"engine replacement went fine, no problems with local mechanic"

Michael P., NY (2008 Toyota Matrix Standard 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

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