Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Toyota Matrix w/300k

Ok, opinion time. I’m currently driving a 2005 Toyota Matrix. Not the most exciting car in the history of the world, but it has been a trooper. 298 k on the odometer and the only problem has been a recall for the ECM. Other than that, it has been worry free. My problem is, I have around an hour commute (52 miles each way) each morning, and I’m worried about how much longer she’s gonna hold up. I’ve thought about trying to swap in a crate motor, but apparently Toyota doesn’t even offer one (?) I’ve seen a few aftermarket motors, but they seemed geared for track days or for hoonmobiles. I guess my question is, should I even bother trying to do anything with the Matrix, or just get something else? And, if your answer is something else, how do we feel about a 7 yr old Porsche with 65k on it? CTS-V?

You think either of these cars will give you the service of your Toyota ?
Not likely. If you do replace, get another Toyota.

" You think either of these cars will give you the service of your Toyota ?
Not likely. If you do replace, get another Toyota."

" Not the most exciting car in the history of the world . . . "
Key words: Not & exciting

There are things other than reliability concerns. Thatherton has two problems:

  1. Reliability running out
  2. boredom

I’ll bet that Thatherton already has an idea that the Porsche could require a little more attention. In some cases, boredom and falling asleep at the wheel is worse than a little extra maintenance.
I think he/she is ready for some excitement.

Thatherton, do you care to weigh in on this ?


I think you’re both right. I dig the Porsche is gonna be more work, but that’s cool. The Matrix was awesome for reliability, and in-town, its actually kinda fun; but good lord was it anemic on the highway. I keep finding 2000-2003 996’s for between 14-20k on the internet. Same for CTS-V’s. Now, I don’t wanna spend 3k a year in maintenance, but turning a wrench I have no problem with.

The pragmatic part of me thinks I should buy a Tiguan, but I hate that guy.

I wouldn’t put any major money in the Matrix, drive it as long as you see fit. As for its replacement, how about a Mazda 3? (with the skyactiv engine, not the turbo) It’s better handling than your Matrix, about as practical, and about the same mpgs. And reasonably reliable.

Gotta be a joke with the used Porsche/Caddy, right?

“I think he/she is ready for some excitement.”

Different people have different ideas about excitement, apparently.
For example, I had been after one of my friends for several years about switching his Railroad Retirement payments from a mailed check to direct deposit. The advantages (no lost or delayed mail, no need to go to the bank to deposit/cash the check, etc.) are obvious.

However, my friend, who is the king of the procrastinators and who is also a rationalizer par excellence, told me that he is, “an excitement junkie”, and that he needs the stress of worrying about whether or not the check will arrive and/or arrive on time each month in order to bring excitement to his life . Why anyone would need that kind of stress in order to get excitement, I cannot fathom.

Anyway, last year, knowing that he would be forced to accept direct deposit within a few months, I decided to mention nothing more about accepting technology for this function. A couple of months after I knew that he had been receiving his payments via direct deposit, I asked him about his feelings regarding this change. At that point, he admitted that the “excitement junkie” stuff was just nonsense, and that he was really just too bone-lazy to make the change until he was forced to do it.

Years ago, another friend was perpetually late for every social function as a result of his barely-functioning AMC Hornet. When I pointed out that he might wind up missing out on certain opportunities because of this constantly breakdown-prone car, he told me that he “liked the excitement” of never knowing whether the car would start, and whether or not he would be able to reach his destination on time (or at all). This, despite having more than enough money to buy something more reliable.

Years later, he confessed that his lack of automotive knowledge just made him very anxious about going into a dealership to buy the new car that he desperately needed. Until that Hornet just plain stopped functioning altogether, he couldn’t force himself to go car shopping.

So…when somebody tells you that they need excitement, they may actually be using that word in order to conceal something else about their personality…

" Not the most exciting car in the history of the world . . . "

Boring is good. No surprises, starts reliably etc. Would you rather drive an exciting car that breaks down frequently ? Toyota is noted for making boring cars. But, for the most part, they are cars that offer few surprises. You jump from one to another, the controls are in the same place and they start and run with the best of them. It works. Most commuters don’t want an exciting trip or even one that feels like the road elicits a jolt with every road irregularity.

Toyotas tend to have great resale value because they create no exciting surprises. Boring is good when you commute 100 miles a day. You want excitement ? You won’t get it handling wise in rush hour traffic regardless of what you drive.

@VDC @Thatherton
I agree. At this stage in my life, the only excitement I need is whether a 6 foot putt will role in or not for a beer bet.

According to MSN auto list of most boring cars…I’m sure Camry and Prius would be right there with anyone’s list. That an Outback is there, simply means they take the excitement out of having to travel in really poor weather…no breakdowns or getting stuck, no excitement ! Viva la “boredom” ! And…Honda the world’s most prolific manufacturer of the internal combustion engine. No one wants any excitement there with their generators and lawn mowers do they ?

-Toyota Camry
-Honda Accord
-Subaru Outback
-Mercedes-Benz R-Class
-Chevrolet Tahoe
-Nissan Sentra
-Toyota Prius

Note that the odometer on the Matrix is going to stop at 300k.
Short-sighted design.

A 52 mile commute each way requires 1) real reliability 2) comfortable seats 3) affordable upkeep.

It’s doubtful that any Porsche can deliver on these.

I would keep driving the Matrix until it becomes either unreliable or it needs a major expensive component replacement, such as the trnasmission. With your driving style and good mainteance, you still have at least 150,000-200,000 miles left on the car. A few years ago I took a taxix in Malaysia. It was an old Toyota Corolla with 1.4 MILLION KMs (870,00 miles) on it and ran well, although the seats looked ratty.

If you want 1,2,3 requirements mentioned above, as well as some fun to drive, a Mazda 6 would be my choice. The newest Honda Accord is a fun to drive car as well.

@VDCDriver Excitement comes in different forms. A “happily married guy” (with a very competent wife) in our town found his when he took off wih an exotic dancer without letting anyone know. Being the son of a well respected church minister made it worse. I don’t know how much fun he had, but he spent a lot of money and soon wanted to come back home. His wife did not want him back, however and he moved to another part of the country to start a new life.

It’ll probably last a while longer, since it sounds like you are pretty much doing all highway miles. That said, if you’re bored, a change of car wouldn’t be a terrible idea. You could check out the new Accord Sport or the coupe with a V6 if you want a good mix of practicality, fun and reliability, or there is also the Civic Si. I’d probably pass on a Porsche though, especially a 911. Even if you can do maintenance on your Matrix, dealing with the rear engine on a Porsche could be about impossible to do yourself, given its limited access without dropping it from the car.

Ok, so the consensus seems to be skip the Porsche and just roll with the Matrix till it drops. I’d like to get something for it as a trade though, so I might do something soon. One more opinion poll: 2011 Tiguan with 35k vs 2008 Mazda CX-7 with 52k…thoughts?

@Thatherton–you won’t get much for the Matrix for a trade-in. In fact, twice I have had deaers give me a better price for a car straight out than if I traded in my old car (the dealers also told me to take my old car home and not leave it on the lot). When you are trading in a car, there are really two sales transactions: 1) you are buying a car from the dealer; 2) the dealer is buying a car from you. You want the car the dealer is offering for sale, but he probably really doesn’t want your car. Sell the Matrix privately or donate it for a tax write-off.

I agree. The Matrix is worth very little to anyone but you. Keep driving it until a major expense comes up, like a new transmission. Then sell it to someone that buys anything. There’s someone near me that will pay $600 for any car; running or not.

If you want a second car, decide what you want. Make a list of features that you like. Then break the list in to must-haves and nice-to-haves. Now you can start looking. Maybe you would like to have a fun car as a second car. But you still need something for commuting. You could have 2 cars, and if that’s what you want, then you need to spend accordingly on your fun car.

BTW, would you drive a Corvette on your commute? That is essentially what you are suggesting with the CTS-V. It would be less expensive to maintain than a Porsche, but still expensive compared to an inexpensive commuter.

@Thatherton I would forget the Tiguan or any other European car. The Mazda would be OK if it checks out with a mechanic’s inspection. Personally, I would not like to buy a car with that many miles, unless it has a complete maintenance history.

I drive 150 to 200 miles a day in my Mazda 3i SkyActiv. I love it. Fun to drive, comfortable and fantastic gas mileage. Now that gas is 4 bucks a gallon (or more) I am especially happy with my car.