A Boring-Looking Everyday Hatchback That Packs A Yamaha-Tuned Screamer Under The Hood - SUV VEHICLE

A Boring-Looking Everyday Hatchback That Packs A Yamaha-Tuned Screamer Under The Hood



  • The Toyota Matrix XRS featured a high-revving 1.8-liter engine developed in collaboration with Yamaha, delivering 180 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque.
  • The Matrix XRS had a spacious interior with ample cargo space, foldable rear seats, and durable materials. It also featured a 115-volt power outlet and other interior highlights.
  • Despite its potential, the Matrix XRS didn’t achieve high sales and was eventually discontinued by Toyota. The second-generation Matrix XRS had a larger engine but still faced popularity issues. A well-maintained Matrix XRS can cost around $9,000 on the used car market.

Back in 2002, Toyota introduced the Toyota Matrix, a wagon/crossover/hatchback model based on the Toyota Corolla aimed at the younger generation. Conceived via a collaboration with General Motors, it was also sold in the United States as the Pontiac Vibe. The Matrix’s base variants shared powertrains with the Corolla, a 1.8-liter inline-four making varying amounts of power depending on the trim and driveline chosen.

Besides a front air dam, fog lights, and rear spoiler, there wasn’t much to distinguish the top-ranked XRS variant from the lower-ranked variants. All Matrix models featured a roof that tapered to the rear, contour lines on the sides, and a sloping hood, which gave the car somewhat of a wedge profile. In terms of performance, however, the Matrix XRS was a league above the lower trims. This piece details everything about a boring-looking everyday hatchback that packs a Yamaha-tuned screamer under the hood.

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In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, like MotorTrend and Edmunds.

The Toyota Matrix XRS’ Howling 1.8-Liter Engine

2004 Toyota Matrix XRS

Toyota and Yamaha have a long history of collaboration: Yamaha helped Toyota develop the 3S-GTE, 2UR-GSE, and 4A-GE engines. Yamaha also had a hand in developing the Toyota Matrix XRS’s high-revving 2ZZ-GE mill.

Toyota introduced the ZZ engine, a four-cylinder unit built on an all-aluminum block, in the late 1990s as manufacturers scrambled to downsize their engines. The 1ZZ engine’s incredible fuel efficiency came at the cost of power. As the century drew to a close, Toyota engineers began developing the 2ZZ mill.

Inline-Four Engine Developed By Toyota And Yamaha

To ensure that it produced enough grunt to power with its performance models, the automaker called on Yamaha to help build the power unit. They came up with a high-revving, lightweight 1.8-liter engine with redesigned pistons, a high compression ratio, forged connecting rods, and Toyota’s intelligent valve timing system dubbed VVTL-i.

The engine, which ran on high-octane fuel, put out 180 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque and delivered peak torque at 6,800 RPM and peak power at 7,600 RPM; it had an 8,200 RPM redline. Toyota briefly offered a four-speed automatic with the XRS, dropping it in favor of a six-speed manual also found in the Celica GT-S.

Performance Specifications


Naturally aspirated 1.8-liter inline-four


180 Horsepower


130 LB-FT


Six-speed manual



Fuel Economy (cmb/city/highway)

25/23/28 MPG

0-60 MPH

8.9 seconds

Top Speed

129 MPH

(Specs: Toyota)

You Could Draw More Power From The Engine By Adding A Supercharger

2011 Lotus Exige

The 2ZZ-GE was so good that Lotus used it to power some of its cars, including later Elise Series 2 models. A supercharged version of the Yamaha-built mill powered the lightweight Exige S. The engine’s 220 horsepower 165 pound-feet of twist was enough to turn the featherweight Lotus into a supercar killer.

Lotus proved that all you needed to do to get more thrust from the Matrix RS’s engine was installing an intercooler and supercharger. No other changes were required, as the mill’s forged internals could handle the extra power.

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The Matrix XRS was the performance variant of a very practical car. The target market was people who wanted a small, utilitarian vehicle with a bit of fizz.

The Matrix XRS’s Rear Seats Folded Flat To Free Up More Luggage Space

The Matrix XRS had it all: a zesty, high-revving engine, proven Corolla underpinnings, and lots of space for people and cargo wrapped in an attractively small package. All passengers had plenty of legroom, and despite the car’s sloping roof, tall rear passengers could travel without scraping their heads on the headliner. The XRS’s padded seats provided extra comfort.

With all seats in place, the XRS had a cargo capacity of 21.8 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded, cargo capacity increased to 53.2 cubic feet. Impressive for a hatchback. Furthermore, the front passenger seat also folded flat, allowing for moving long items or serving as an in-car workstation. Toyota fitted the XRS with durable upholstery and a hardy cargo floor that could withstand plenty of punishment without staining or tearing.

One of the most underrated and ingenious features int the Matrix XRS’s interior for its time, was a 115-volt power outlet, the kind seen in modern trucks and SUVs, including the 2024 Toyota 4Runner. You could use it to charge your phone or gaming devices. The power outlet received plenty of praise. The Matrix XRS also came with more noteworthy interior features.

Toyota Matrix XRS Interior Highlights

  • Silver-rimmed instrument gauges with backlit red numerals
  • A six-speaker audio system
  • Optional navigation system
  • Optional side airbags
  • Upgraded sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer.

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Toyota Discontinued The Matrix Due To Declining Sales

Red 2004 Toyota Matrix XRS

The Toyota Matrix XRS had the potential to become a sales success for Toyota. However, the American public never fully embraced the Matrix or its sibling, the Pontiac Vibe.

Toyota Introduced A Second-Generation Matrix XRS Featuring A 2.4-Liter Engine

Before Toyota axed the Matrix, it restyled the model and gave the XRS variant a larger power unit. The peppy 2.4-liter inline-four powering the second-gen Matrix produced 158 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 162 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 RPM.

One gripe with the Yamaha-engineered mill was its lack of low-end torque. The new Matrix XRS engine solved this issue at the cost of reduced horsepower. However, despite changes to the engine, revised suspension settings, and interior improvements, the Matrix XRS remained unpopular.

Toyota Eventually Discontinued The Matrix In The U.S. In 2013

When former Toyota executive Bill Fay said in December 2012 that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Toyota ditched the Matrix, the world knew that the model’s days were numbered. By then, the top-ranked XRS model had already been forgotten, having left the Matrix line-up after the 2010 model year.

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A Well-Maintained Matrix XRS Will Cost You Around $9,000

The Matrix XRS wasn’t around for long and wasn’t popular. Therefore, they rarely appear on the used car market, the first-gen models especially. But if you are smitten by the sound that its high-revving Yamaha-tuned engine makes, the few good examples that pop up usually cost around $9,000.

Check The Engine For Failing Lift Bolts

Early 2ZZ-GE engines suffered from lift bolt failure. Though harmless to the engine, the lift bolt fault caused a drop in performance. The first-gen Matrix XRS doesn’t suffer from other significant faults, a testament to Toyota’s bulletproof reliability.

Nevertheless, request a full-service history to ensure that the car was taken care of properly and check for signs of accident damage. It might take some time to get used to the noise produced by XRS’s rackety engine. However, getting that dime of an engine to the redline every time and again should wipe away your gloom.

Check Whether Your Matrix XRS Was Affected By The ‘Sticky Pedal’ Issue

If you opt for the second-gen model, check whether the ‘sticky pedal’ issue affecting the Matrix and other Toyota models was fixed. Toyota issued a recall for 2009 to 2011 Matrix models, citing a fault that could cause the throttle pedal to remain partially depressed. It led to instances of uncontrolled or unintended acceleration.


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