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View Full Version : Toyota Matrix vs. Mazda 3s?



klapa
08-02-2014, 03:22 AM
I need to get another car - something that makes more sense in my "new" situation.

I had the luxury in the past five years of a 6 mile commute to work, but now face a 60 mile commute everyday. I drive my old STX - which still "runs like a watch" and gets just over 30 MPG combined driving, yet the stress is taking it's toll.

Just since starting this new commute in March I've had minor failures with the cooling system (radiator fan switch in thermostat housing), brakes (both master cylinder and one flexible hose), and passenger axle (hit a big pothole).

Add to that - I have a leak in my power steering gear seal caused by the pothole hit that will need to be fixed as well.

So I need a new daily driver that is newer and more reliable. As I have two Basset hounds I also need some space - it is difficult for them to climb in the rear seat of my coupe, so what I am looking for is a hatchback with some room as this would also sit low to the ground for my digs to get in. One dog is 70 lb. and the other 65 lb.

I have narrowed my prospects to either a Mazda 3 hatch or a Toyota Matrix. In either case I would be getting one in the 2004-2007 model used.

The Mazda seems to have more space - and more zip, as it has a 2.3L as opposed to the Toyota Corolla based Matrix with a 1.8L. The Mazda also has more available options. Either way I want a 5-speed as opposed to an automatic as I believe the former would be more reliable in the long term.

I am just worried about Mazda reliability - I KNOW Toyota reliability, yet while the Mazda has great reviews it is an unknown for me.

I wondered if any here have any knowledge or experience with either of these cars.

Murgatroy
08-02-2014, 03:34 AM
Is the Matrix not a 6 speed?

I have a friend who has four big dogs, Great Pyrenees, and he used his Matrix for years and was very satisfied with it.

hobbie2k
08-02-2014, 05:45 AM
For those years, I would pick the Mazda. I think it's better looking inside and out, and by all accounts it is a better drive. Reliability should be comparable, and while it is different to a Toyota, it's not so different as to present a problem. My brother had a 2.3/manual one that ran great for him for 100k, till he traded it for a Toureg. I also had a Ford Fusion for a little while with the 2.3/manual and never had an issue with the drivetrain. On the other hand, my Aunt has a Pontiac Vibe (Matrix twin) that has also been bulletproof (and I think is better looking than the Matrix).

There is one issue with the Matrix (and other Toyotas from that era) that always bugged me, the instrument panel and centre stack use different color schemes that just look cheap to me.

Another thing to consider (though you probably don't need it in NC) is that the second gen Matrix had AWD as an option.

METDeath
08-02-2014, 12:36 PM
Is the Matrix not a 6 speed?

I have a friend who has four big dogs, Great Pyrenees, and he used his Matrix for years and was very satisfied with it.

That was the XRS with the 2ZZ-GE in it. Almost bought one of those when the black car died.

crymson
08-02-2014, 12:47 PM
I have friends in my local Toyota club with 2zz 6 speed matrixes (matrices?) that have run over 200k no problem. Their nice cars and mechanically very similar to my 7th gen but with room in the engine bay. My parents have had Mazda 3s for years, but they've never run up big miles, but they're also nice cars. Never had to work in one before. I don't think you'll go wrong whichever choice you make.

Nitro_Alltrac
08-02-2014, 01:57 PM
My sister had a XRS she bought new in 04. She put around 200K on it before she got a new car. She never had a bit of problem with it. She didn't the basic maintenance (oil changes, brakes, tires). Never had any major issues with it. I'd recommend it myself.

grimmythereaper
08-02-2014, 03:42 PM
my gf has a 04 matrix XR and she cariies our dog and her sisters dog to the beach every now and then, her sisters dogs are a pit bull and some kind of rottwroler (sp?) mix. both dogs weigh about 70 pounds each. Our dog is a 12 mut. leg room up front is really good but not so much in the backseats. engine bay is huge compared to the 1zz-fe that is it. The car is suprisely peppy at the bottom end, The gf also only runs 93 octane. Stock sound system is ass, lol. Door seals around the back pass. doors wear out very easy compared to the front seals and the back door is heavy as hell, we had to replace the shocks on the rear door shortly after she got the car and that almost 5 years ago. The car has around 230,000 miles on it and still runs like a top, all we do is basic mantince on it. There is a recall for the driverside window( a bolt gets loose over time and the window makes a popping sound when it goes down) and for the ECU. Sorry for the choppy answers i was thinking as i was typing :)

Murgatroy
08-02-2014, 05:10 PM
That is what Jim had, the XRS, I drove it a time or two, pretty peppy.

The only problem he had as the In Dash Nav or whatever he had going out so he spent way too much to get an Alpine unit put it.

Murgatroy
08-02-2014, 07:36 PM
My bad I am completely off, Jim had a Pontiac Vibe, not a Matrix.


Granted, it is the same thing.

klapa
08-02-2014, 07:36 PM
Thanks for all the input everybody.

The inventory for any of these cars around here (Raleigh NC area) is pretty lean.

I went to a greasy type small car lot this AM to look at a 2003 XRS with the 6-speed. 135K and price around 5500. The addy looked great but checking it out in person I was sure these folks had some PhotoShop on the computer.

http://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/607913436/overview/

This car has a pretty used up interior as far as the plastics go - and the seats had stains too. All the interior plastics had paint worn on the edges - the driver side window switch assembly was just flopping around. The lower front plastics on the exterior showed scrapes for multiple bottoming out.

This is the first time I had physically looked at a Matrix up close, and my overall impression is that the interior plastics look really cheap and fragile. Still - it is about the only hatch that also has a rear window that can be opened separately from the door - which is a plus.

I am leaning towrds the Mazda 3 - but might need to settle for an automatic as the manuals are few and far between around here.

I'm also looking at Ford Focus SES - these have a 2.0L and 6-speed - but don't have a tach!?

METDeath
08-02-2014, 08:50 PM
Looking at that ad, I think they used scaled down cell phone photos from an older cell phone.

4thgenceli
08-02-2014, 09:20 PM
I love my Mazda. Both the 626 we recently had, the cx7 we have now and the 3 her parents have.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk

klapa
08-02-2014, 11:56 PM
Well,

Maybe I am going to end up getting a glorified mini-van.

I am going to look at this car tomorrow - it looks like a good deal to me. I might buy it.

http://eastnc.craigslist.org/ctd/4551420801.html

Murgatroy
08-03-2014, 07:50 AM
I am a sucker for a wagon.

VavAlephVav
08-04-2014, 07:42 PM
na, if im buying anything even faintly resembling a wagon or suv it's gonna be a damn Jeep.

:koolaidman:

MCcelica
08-04-2014, 08:01 PM
My mom had an 03 Matrix XRS. Hers was a failmatic but it did pretty well in the upper RPM range. They put a ton of miles on it before they sold it to my sister, who still daily's it. It's given her significantly fewer problems than her old Maxima did. The way it's built, it actually corners pretty well too.

My wife has an 08 Mazda 3 which, beyond basic maintenance, has given her 0 problems as well. She bought it with 18,000 miles on it, and it's now up just over 110,000. Given those two choices, I'd say you're good to go either way.

METDeath
08-04-2014, 08:39 PM
Only downside, they don't actually make a rear anti-sway/stabilizer bar for the Matrix anymore, you can find them used on eBay though. There apparently isn't one from the factory.

MCcelica
08-04-2014, 08:54 PM
^Doesn't need it if he's hauling dogs. Lol, "HANG ON, POOCHIE! WE'Z GOIN' SIDEWAYZ!! WOOOOOO! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! !!!"

Murgatroy
08-04-2014, 09:29 PM
^Doesn't need it if he's hauling dogs. Lol, "HANG ON, POOCHIE! WE'Z GOIN' SIDEWAYZ!! WOOOOOO! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! !!!"

I don't know about your dog, but my dog loves her some mad tite dorifto.

MCcelica
08-05-2014, 03:58 PM
I don't know about your dog, but my dog loves her some mad tite dorifto.

<- haz FWD car.

METDeath
08-05-2014, 04:05 PM
<- haz FWD car.

Lift off over steer, fewl.

MCcelica
08-05-2014, 08:53 PM
Lift off over steer, fewl.

... I was implying that my car just goes through the corners...

I very rarely even understeer.

METDeath
08-05-2014, 10:14 PM
LIFT OFF over steer... completely different.

Nitro_Alltrac
08-05-2014, 10:34 PM
911 style lift off oversteer?

Murgatroy
08-05-2014, 10:44 PM
911 style lift off oversteer?

That is called a pirouette...

MCcelica
08-05-2014, 10:55 PM
Shakes head...

hobbie2k
08-06-2014, 03:48 AM
Ass-dragging is always an option...

klapa
08-09-2014, 10:27 PM
I ended up buying that Mazda wagon for $5700. It is a 2004 Mazda 6s Wagon with a 3.0L V6, all leather, power and heated seats, power moon roof, Bose sound. Only really visible wear in the interior is the driver side window control plastic has paint worn, and the steering wheel sound controls have worn out letters on them. Exterior was better than average, though the passenger side headlight seems to be glued on one of the seams.

It all seemed good til right when I got home after the ~126 mi. ride on a really hot day - I had a CEL but worse - the oil pressure light was flickering when I was at a stop with the engine in gear!! Yet there were no noises at all coming from the engine. Later that night, I went out and started it up and ran it for about 30 min. with no such problems with the oil light.

The next day - I made my 30 mi. drive to work with no problems till the end, when I left the interstate. Once again, the oil light would flicker when stopped at a light with the auto in gear. If I would shift into N at the light - no flickering. The difference on the tach was a needle above 750 RPM in N and a needle below 750 RPM in D. My boss has a OBDII scanner and checked the thing finding that everything had been reset the morning of the day I bought it. The CEL code is for "EGR Solenoid position unknown".

I figured I was fu*ked without the pleasure! The CEL code didn't bother me SO much - the oil pressure DID!

I read up on the forums that this "flickering" can be caused by a faulty OP switch - which in my experience is nearly never the case.

I needed to travel to Charlotte the next day, so I left the thing to a shop to get a pressure gauge put on it. The "manual pressure check" test came back with 90PSI at cold idle, and 20PSI at hot idle - which seems pretty good for a engine with ~120K. It was a hot day and they must have run the thing for a long time as ~1/8 tank of gas was used.

The oil pressure switch was replaced and I will find out Monday AM if I still have a flickering oil light, as the problem never appears until after a long run at load on a hot day.

My budget was a max of $6K - and I looked at about 8 cars here locally - the only Mazda4 and Toyota Matrix in this price range. They were all REALLY crappy in the interior - and some on the exterior too.

As it is - I didn't want an automatic - but nearly NO cars for any price were available with a manual. The automatic I have is a five speed - with the "manual sport shifter".

hobbie2k
08-10-2014, 02:22 AM
Sorry to hear that. Hopefully you'll get lucky and it is just the OP switch. I had a Jeep Cherokee 4.0 some years ago that one day the pressure gauge fell to zero. I stopped immediately and had it towed to the shop. I got lucky and it was just the OP sending unit. So it's not "always" a major problem. :)

4thgenceli
08-10-2014, 03:21 PM
My father in law has a 2005 grand Cherokee limited with all the bells and whistles. I borrowed it a few years back to drag Jasmine to the exhaust shop. As I'm about 6 blocks from home the dinging starts. I look at the gauges and it says 'Check Gauges'. Oil pressure is at zero.

I freak the fuck out. Pull down a side street kill the motor and start looking. No puddle underneath. No obvious signs of damage. Level is fine. I call her dad and ask wtf. He cackled and said 'Yeah the sending unit needs to be replaced. It's sitting on my bench. When you get back you can replace it'. I fire it up and everything is fine.

Needless to say I shat myself.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk

hobbie2k
08-11-2014, 11:47 AM
The problem with the 4.0 is that both the sending unit and the oil pump are prone to failure, so people would think "it's just the sending unit again," only to find out a minute later that this time it really was the oil pump...

Nitro_Alltrac
08-11-2014, 05:02 PM
I love those 6 wagons. Sweet looking car. There are a couple that I'm seeing on my way to work now. I wouldn't mind having one.

Hopefully the switch will take car of the problem. If the mechanical gauged showed good pressure it's almost got to be a bad switch.

klapa
08-14-2014, 02:47 AM
For the time being - things look good, at least from the standpoint of the oil pressure light.

I have driven it to work three days now - the 30 mile trip each way - never a flicker - whereas before I had the problem on a sub 90F day.

I am not ready to claim victory though - except for yesterday (91F) everyday has been cooler - max 88F.

I really like this car - it looks good, is very smooth, and has all the power options - it's nice to ride in luxury for a change! The dogs can just hop in!

Everything seems to work except little nagging things like the dome light switch - the 6 CD in dash and all the Bose speakers work fine - sport shifter is pretty cool - cruise, seat heaters - all of it works good.

It needs shocks and could use some anti-sway bars, and the AC works great till the weather is hot, then it fades.

I'm not doing anything till I take a long ride on a hot day and don't see any flickering oil light.

klapa
08-14-2014, 02:57 AM
The problem with the 4.0 is that both the sending unit and the oil pump are prone to failure, so people would think "it's just the sending unit again," only to find out a minute later that this time it really was the oil pump...

I have the 3.0 V6 - this is what you are referring to, right?

I have also read about oil pump problems - which are not really normally found on most engines.

Edit: Oops! I see you were talking about the Jeep 4.0L.

4thgenceli
08-14-2014, 03:22 AM
Sorry, her parents have the Limited with the 4.7l v8 (pretty sure it's the HEMI).

klapa
09-05-2014, 04:29 AM
So -anyway - to close things out here, I am risking the "HEX" by claiming victory! YAAY!

I drove it a long way over Labor Day weekend - 300 mi. with about 100 mi. through the mountains. Never even a flicker on the oil light.

Before this - and after this - I drove it the 30 mi. each way trip back and forth to work with over 100F temps - never a flicker.

So maybe I lucked out and accidentally "out-shysted the shyster".

I had to replace a uneven worn tire, fix the problem (tie rod end), and get a 4-wheel alignment - that and the oil pressure check plus switch replacement cost me $300 - raising the total cost to $6100. Add to that - I only had one ignition key and no remote - so had to pay $150 to get a second key (need key chip programmed by dealer) and remote!! (WHADDA RIP!!)

I like this car allot. It is as smooth as silk - the dogs can just hop in the back with no real effort. I like the "luxury" for a change - power front seats, power windows and mirrors, power moonroof, heated seats and mirrors, all leather interior, BOSE 5.1 sound with 6-CD in dash - and it all works!

The 5-speed auto was great in manual mode in the mountains - I hardly needed to use my brakes at all.

Still - I am back driving the trusty ole ST to work and back - much better gas mileage and I'd rather add the miles to my ST with 261K on the ticker already.