Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Matrix vs Vibe

I’m in the market for a new used car (had a 2000 Toyota Tacoma that got repurchased due to the rust “recall”) in Michigan. I’m seriously looking at the Matrix or Pontiac Vibe in the 12,000 range. I have different questions. First, how much will dealers come down if I offer cash between now and the end of October? Second, is there any measurable difference between the Matrix and the Vibe? Prices between the two vary up to $3,000. Third, what about the wear and tear of rust damage on either of these models? Has rust resistance gotten any better since the end of the 1990s? Thanks for any and all advice…

Carol in Kalamazoo

Seeing how these are both econoboxes and econoboxes are the hot sellers right now, don’t expect any big discounts. The Matrix and Vibe are mechanically the same vehicle. You might have better luck haggling with the Vibe though since it has Pontiac badge on it. Rust really hasn’t been a problem since the 1980’s. It’s unlikely you’ll have any rust problems with newer car.

Up until yesrterday, I would have recommended you buy the Vibe, since it is essentially the same car as the Matrix, and selling for a lot less.

However, General Motors is in very deep trouble and will likely merge with Chrysler in the next month or so. This will eliminate a number of brands; Saturn, the Chrysler cars, Dodge trucks, Hummer and PONTIAC. This means that if you bought a Vibe, you may have trouble getting body and trim parts in the future. Mechanical parts should be OK, since they are the same a smatrix.

In any case don’t expect a Pontiac dealer to service it, since he may not be around any more. Having said this, a $3000 saving is worth a small gamble, if you do not expect to keep the Vibe for 10 years.

Rust protection has not improved a great deal since the 1990s. Both Matrix and Vibe have very good rust resistance, but I understand you live in one of the most rust-prone areas of North America.

The difference between a Vibe and a Matrix comes down to minor trim panels on the body. Mechanically they are identical.

When buying a car, cash always speaks louder than anything else. Make the best deal you can, but these are both popular cars with good reputations for reliability, so don’t expect to steal one.

I wouldn’t worry about rust. The factory rust-proofing on newer cars is state-of-the-art. Look around your area and see how similar cars are holding up.

We don’t have any trouble servicing our 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette. Ours was the last year. Body parts will be available from surplus yards. I don’t see a down side to a Vibe at this point.

BTW, why do you think that GM and Chrysler will join up? And if they dump everything but Dodge cars, why bother? If GM is in deep trouble, why add another big money loser? That rumor just doesn’t make sense.

Chrysler has few employee legacy costs, and a pile of cash, but very slow sales. The Jeep brand is a moneymaker, Chrysler minivans sell better than GM’s and by removing Dodge and Chrysler cars from the market, it will give GM more share in the car area.

Agree, this whole deal, which is now being discussed, smacks of desperation, but they want the US government (i.e. YOU)to finance the deal. In view of all the cash forked out to banks and other financial firms, $20 billion or so in loan guarantees is peanuts.

Nissan and Renault have also announced they want to buy part of Chrysler.

Ford is going to sell its share of Mazda in order to raise cash. Credit is very tight now, especially for companies with a very dim future.

The next 2 months will be very interesting to watch. If GM does nothing, their cash flow needs will more than likely put them into bankruptcy within 6 months, just like Chrysler in the 1980s. Cerberus Capital, the owners of Chrysler, are under pressure from their shareholders to do something; the sharp economic downturn was something no one saw coming. Even cheap gas is not going to save the day this time around.

The hope is that combining the best of GM and Chrysler and shutting down 8 more plants, will create a viable company.

If there were no antitrust laws in the US, Toyota could easily buy all 3 US car firms, and selectively shut them down. This is currently taking place in the major appliance field, where there will only be Electrolux and Whirlpool remaining as full line US suppliers, when GE sells its appliance business.

What about YOU? Isn’t the Canadian government concerned about the good citizens employed at the Windsor, Brampton, and Etobicoke plants? There are about 10,000 Canadians employed there.

The Canadian car manufacturing history is one of successfully adapting to opportunities presented by the North American Auto Pact, signed in 1964 by LBJ. It allowed Canadian manufacturign to rationalize and grow to where by 2007 Canada had a $30 billion surplus in automotive trade. Total production rose to nearly 3 million vehicles by all conmpanies, while Canadian sales were about 1.5 million.

A number of years ago the UAW in Canada split off and formed the Canadian Auto Workers Union, CAW, and pushed for higher wages. Health care was already largely covered by the government (worth $12/hr), and when the Canadian dollar dropped to $.62 US, they made massive wage gains without the employer becoming uncompetitive.

Then the Canadian dollar rose, and US companies started loading some of the health care cost on the unions. The CAW balked at all this (no rollbacksd, no benefit cuts) and wanted to retain the $80 per hour wage and benefit package. This is more than many engineers and most teachers make.

The GM plants in Canada are now the most expensive place in the world to build cars. In 2007 Ontario still produced more cars than Michigan but as more get closed, the new Japanes plants will not make up for the loss.

In the meanwhile Honda and Toyota are planning expansions since their wage and benefit packages are much more competitive.

In summary the plight of CAW Big Three autoworkers is met with a shrug by most Canadians because of the greed factor. However, workers at parts plants will suffer job losses since the sales volume will be cut.

These cars are essentially identical vehicles. If you do go with the Vibe, have it serviced at a Toyota dealer and tell them to pretend that it is a Matrix. Pontiac dealer service people don’t seem to realize that they are working on a Toyota Corolla wagon and use improper fluids and other parts. As for rust, my 2003 Vibe has almost 140k miles on it now and not a hint of rust anywhere, and many of those miles were in Michigan. These are awesome cars, get either one and you’ll be happy.

“In summary the plight of CAW Big Three autoworkers is met with a shrug by most Canadians because of the greed factor.”

Are you sure you aren’t a Republican from Texas or Wyoming? ;’)