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Although Toyota has traditionally marketed its Matrix as one of the sporty, fun cars in its lineup, most people have purchased this small wagon/four-door hatchback for a very different reason: practicality. The first-generation Matrix had a backseat large enough to fit three kids or a pair of adults, and its perfectly flat, plastic-coated load floor was suitable for all manner of cargo. Being related to the Corolla sedan also helped, as the Matrix enjoyed above-average fuel economy and a solid reputation for reliability. On the base Toyota Matrix, you'll find a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. The S and XRS models upgrade to a 2.4-liter engine that makes 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. On the XRS and front-drive S, you can get a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The AWD S comes only with a four-speed automatic. Equipped with the 2.4-liter engine, the Matrix returns fuel economy Ratings are 21/28 with the manual, Every 2009 Toyota Matrix XRS comes with antilock disc brakes all around. Also standard are front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is included on the XRS and optional on the lower trim levels. Inside, the redesigned Matrix looks and feels much like the original car, though obviously updated. It continues to offer a sportier ambience than the Corolla. The driving position is vastly improved in the '09 model, with credit going to the new telescoping steering wheel and increased seat-track travel. The controls are laid out to ergonomic near-perfection. In back, the tall, deep bench is comfortable for children and adults alike, and it folds completely flat in 60/40 sections
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