Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. sees a market niche for a sport wagon aimed at 25- to 35-year-olds who don't care for the ride of a truck.
The vehicle goes on sale in January 2002 with a base price expected to be comparable to a subcompact sedan. Toyota did not release sales goals.
The Matrix will be positioned as a sporty vehicle to avoid cannibalizing sales of the Toyota RAV4 sport-utility. The RAV4 will be pushed as a more rugged vehicle, said Toyota marketing chief Steve Sturm.
The Matrix's base engine will be a 130-hp four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing that will be shared with the Corolla. Drivetrain choices will be front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The 180-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine used in the Celica GT-S will be an option. The Matrix will have standard 17-inch wheels.
The Matrix was designed at Toyota's CALTY Design Studio in Newport Beach, Calif., and will be built in Cambridge, Ontario.
The company expects it to compete against the Pontiac Vibe, which will be built at NUMMI, the Toyota-General Motors joint venture plant in Fremont, Calif. The Vibe also will use elements of the Corolla platform.
The Matrix also could compete in size with the Chrysler PT Cruiser, though the DaimlerChrysler vehicle's styling is more retro compared with the Matrix's more futuristic design.
The Matrix's interior has seating for five and fold-flat rear seats. Features include a floor-mounted cargo rack that slides out of the rear hatch that can accommodate a bicycle, for example.