Opinions Please!! We’re in the market for a new used car and have narrowed our choice to the Toyota Matrix and the Subaru Forrester. We know we want a manual transmission and are looking to maximize our gas mileage - the mileage issue has us leaning toward the Matrix. Other considerations to put out for your considered opinions – we drive ~20k mi/yr, we have 2 60-pound dogs, we need to transport kayaks and/or bikes. Please respond with your thoughts, even if they include other models we should consider. Thanks!
They are both excellent vehicles. The Matrix has the advantage of better gas mileage, and the Forester has the advantage of more carrying capacity. Incidentally, if you can find a Pontiac Vibe, it is mechanically identical to the Matrix, but may be cheaper, due to the “stigma” of the Pontiac name.
I would add a Subaru Outback/Legacy wagon (2005+ only) into the mix. They good similar mileage to a Forester and many world better car than a Matrix or Forester. There are really basic versions of the Outback that keep cost down. Outback/Legacy are a different realm of car missing that terrible small car feel in the smaller SUV’s.
The Matrix is best bet for MPG though due to its small engine and lack of AWD.
Some older Matrixes (Matrices??) came with AWD. It was only dropped in the past couple of years, and is being reintroduced with the latest model.
You will be really mad about gas mileage if you buy the Forester.
If gas mileage is your primary consideration, go for the Matrix/Vibe (same vehicle). The Forester has AWD, which is great if you must drive in snow. Otherwise, it adds to maintenance costs and weight, and reduces fuel mileage.
I own a Legacy wagon. I love the AWD, and I can haul two Great Danes in it, but I’m not really thrilled with the gas mileage. It’s not horrible, just not as good as my similar-sized Accord.
If you really like the Forester, consider a Legacy or Outback wagon. The Forester is a bit taller inside, but there’s more room overall in the Legacy/Outback. My Danes are about twice the weight of your dogs, and they fit comfortably inside the Legacy. But then again, I know Dane owners who drive either a Toyota Matrix or a Pontiac Vibe, and they are happy with the room inside.
A 2003 Matrix is rated at 25/30mpg
a 2003 Forrester is rated at 19/25mpg
at 20000 mpy, that comes to $400 per year difference.
Its 24MPG in mixed driving for my mother and sister in law with early 2000’s foresters. I can imagine the Matrix gets you near 30MPG.
I’d get a Matrix or Vibe. There might be some minor differences between the Pontiac and the Toyota, but they are essentially the same car. If the weather is ever so bad that you feel unsafe in the Matrix, you shouldn’t be driving anyway. Spend the extra $400 from gas savings on doggy treats!
Just to be contrary. Consider a CRV in the mix. It has the most room and as economical as ANY awd vehicle. My daughter’s is a tank (reliability) after 150k miles and I think as a used car you stand the best chance of getting something you’d be satisfied with. I’m high on owner satisfaction ratings by CR and the Matrix isn’t as good as CRV or Forester. That’s why they have had a remake and added more power. I know of NO ONE that dumps on CRV’s (or RAV 4) though older RAVs are smaller (as big as Forester).
“I’m high on owner satisfaction ratings by CR and the Matrix isn’t as good as CRV or Forester.”
Sometimes I wonder about Consumer Reports. A few years after I bought my 1998 Buick Regal, I looked CR to see how they rated it. There were all solid red dots or half-red dots; a seemingly high reliability car. Yet they rated it with mediocre reliability. The Accord and Camry, on the other hand, were given the highest reliability ratings, but had no where as high a rating on the quoted system reliabilities (the dot system) as my Buick. I’ve always wondered how they came to two different ratings. Don’t the red dots mean that much?
WE OWN AN 03 AWD VIBE AND LOVE IT. WE INCLUDES OUR 70LB LAB WHO SITS IN THE BACK SEAT. I AM NOT SURE THE AWD IS THE SAME AS YOU WOULD HAVE IN THE SUBARU THO. I BELIEVE THE FRONT WHEELS SLIP BEFORE THE REAR KICKS IN. I BELIEVE THE SUB HAS A MORE FULTIME AWD -BETTER FOR DEEP SNOW AND HIGHER SPEED TRACTION AS WELL AS TAKING OFF ON A GRADE. ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW MORE?