Which car should I keep?

I need to sell one of my two vehicles and want someone to bust out their crystal ball and tell me which of the two are going to give me the fewest problems in the next say, five years. Anyone up for the challenge?

They are:

  1. 2007 Toyota Matrix XR Sport Wagon, 4D– 94,000 miles. Purchased used with 13,000 miles on it, this one is in excellent condition, clean and well maintained. No rust. It hasn’t given me any significant trouble until just now. I’ve recently learned that the water pump is leaking and need to be replaced and I need to replace the timing chain tensioner. The car was in a pretty significant front-end accident at about 30,000 miles (frame bent). Since then I’ve had little annoyances, such as a dashboard rattle. But on the whole, the repair has been solid. The Matrix has also had the driver’s side quarter panel repaired, when someone ran into my parked car. New tires, last year.

  2. 2006 Chevy HHR LS Sport Wagon, 4D – 86,000 miles. This one was also purchased used with about 35,000 miles. I’d consider it to be excellent condition, clean and well maintained. There’s a small amount of rust on the body just below the passenger door. This one had the sway bar and bushings replaced in 2012. Otherwise no major problems. Has ABS and new tires as well.

As far as my preference goes – they’re about equal. The Matrix is fun to drive, but the HHR is better long distance traveler. The Matrix has a bumpier ride. The Matrix has more cargo room, the HHR more passenger room. The HHR has little quirks that I don’t like, like the window controls on the center console and the windshield pillars are extra wide which blocks my vision just a little. The HHR handles Wisconsin winter roads better, the Matrix tends to slip around a little, even with new tires.

I rented an HHR one time, and like you found the ride smooth w/good handling, esp when going fast on the freeway. Reasonably easy to handle for its size. I noticed the visibility problem, but didn’t find it to be show stopper. The one quirk I recall was the glove box. I’d put something inside the glove box, and later discover it fell out and was on the passenger side floor. I’ll never figure out how they could foul up the glove box design, but, hey, somebody had to do it eventually!

The HHR will probably be a little less reliable as it ages, with higher repair costs, but the Toyota already has 95 K on it, so problems will be lurking on it too in the not too distant future. I think it is a wash. Toss a coin.

Normally I’d say keep the Matrix. I had a 2003 Pontiac Vibe (basically the same vehicle as the Matrix except for the obvious exterior differences). My Vibe lasted 8 years (180,000 problem free miles) until it was totalled in an accident. I’m leery of the significant damage to your Matrix. You say the repair is solid but it has some annoyances. Only dashboard rattles? Alignment OK? Any “pull” to the car when you’re driving? In other words if you like the way the Matrix drives I’d keep it. Toyotas are known for their long life. I wouldn’t be as trusting with the HHR if you want at least 5 more years.

BTW invest in some winter tires and your Matrix will handle much better in the winter.

From my half-vast experience- which includes owning a 2008 Matrix and renting an HHR, I’d vote for the Matrix if you plan to keep it 5 years. More fun to drive, probably will be less troublesome.

Get rid of the Matrix. Frame damaged cars aren’t always easy to fix correctly. Hopefully yours was.

In any case, keep the HHR. At least it’s not been hammered. Literally.

I rented an HHR too and didn’t find it very satisfying. I think it will age pretty quickly and am especially concerned about the door rust. There’s no such thing as a little rust unless it is just surface rust from missing paint. Isn’t the Matrix from the joint GM/Toyota plant that was shut down though? Are parts going to be readily available such as unique electronic parts? That and the front end damage would be of concern. Sometimes Answer C is better than A or B, such as selling both and starting over with one that suits your needs.

@Bing “Isn’t the Matrix from the joint GM/Toyota plant that was shut down though?”

Yes. But I always thought they"re basically Corollas.

In my book (and Consumer Reports’) the Matrix should be the most reliable long term.

But the real question is which one do YOU like best?

The HHR will hold it’s value more I believe than the Matrix. I owned a 2005 Matrix for about a year and it was nothing but trouble. It also ate front tires like nobody’s business and had a very harsh ride. Keep the HHR.

If the Matrix had not been in an acident, I would say keep it. But in this case, keep the Chevy and maintain it well.

of the 2, I’d keep the HHR as well. Though I lean more towards Bing’s idea. Sell/trade both in for a different car

My vote goes with the a matrix for all of the above reasons if you must choose. The ideal would be to trade both, get a newer car and get to make highter insurance and registration fee payments though just for one car. @same brings up a point. You wouldn’t be asking if you had a definite preference for either one and both could be loosers to keep.Trading forr something you like better is beginning to look better. A little unrequested psychology opinion.;=)

Without the damage I’d vote to keep the Matrix - but the extensive body and frame repair concerns me. I find body repairs, paint etc., don’t hold up as well as the original paint. The bent frame is another notch against it.

The HHR seems to do OK for you. It will need more repairs mechanically than the Matrix, but not significantly more.

Sell the Matrix now. See how you do in the HRR for a couple of years. If you aren’t happy then move on from the HRR too.