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Focus ZX3 or Toyota Matrix

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Arnold, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. I've read every thread that has anything to do with cars and still have more questions. I'm buying a hatchback. Parking in small places and gas mileage are issues for me. These two are in the lead in my search of what's available in today's market. Anybody have any comments or any other suggestions. Thanks.
  2. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    I had a Toyota Corrolla Hatchback a few years back in Chicago, smaller than what you are looking at. The car held up well with the different seasons, got good mileage, and pretty much lasted forever.

    All my cars have been Toyota's (3 to date) and I think they are a good bang for your buck.

    Also, since you are in NYC is one smaller than the other, than can save you loads of time when you find that small parking spot?

    Hope this helps.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I don't think the wheel base is that much different, personally I've had Japanese cars (83 Toyota Tercel and 79 Honda Civic wagon) stand up to more mileage and abuse than American cars (68 Chevy BelAir, 75 Pontiac Astra, 90 Dodge Shadow) I've had.

    I'm doing the ZipCar thing since the Dodge died and have driven both. The Focus was zippy, had plenty o'room and I felt safe and secure driving down the NJ Turnpike in a torrential downpour. I did feel like i was sitting a little "low" in relation to the road.

    I really like the Matrix, you could tour a trio if you needed to. The regular edition is a little pokey, but the XR is pretty zippy.

    If it were me, I'd hit the Matrix...
  4. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Same here. I drive a current-generation Corolla (same car as the Matrix / Pontiac Vibe, just different skin), and I dig it. It's a sedan, but a bass fits with ease, and I get almost 40 mpg on the freeway (mine's a 5-speed). Comfortable, simple, worry-free car. I won't be haulin' down any record-breaking time slips at the drag strip, but it's a good little car that didn't take me to the cleaners.
  5. My vote is for the Matrix/Vibe twins - I'm a big fan. Before my Taurus died on me and I had to scramble to get a car, I was dead-set on getting a Vibe for a long time.

    I had a couple of opportunities to load my gear into a Matrix, and it took every scrap of gear I had (DB, 2 BG, 2 cabinets, AI combo, gear bag, stand) without a problem. I also rented a 2WD Vibe in Minneapolis in February for a week and had zero problems - it handled the bad conditions as well as a 2WD car without snow tires can be expected to.

    Ed's right - the standard configurations won't burn the road up, but there are tons of aftermarket options for those cars, and the higher-end versions are a bit faster, if less fuel efficient.

    Since they're mechanically identical, you may want to buy based on looks and/or incentives. Oddly, Consumer Reports shows the Vibe as having a very slight edge over the Matrix on reliability - perhaps the GM car owners are just shocked and dazed by the Toyota build quality...
  6. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Could be! There's another possible explanation - while the Corolla / Vibe / Matrix are all essentially the same thing, the Coralla/Vibe are built at Toyota's NUMMI plant in Cali, while the Matrix is built at a plant in Canada.

    If anyone needs any more completely worthless facts or figures, feel free to PM me. :meh:
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Do you know the circumference of Saturn's second largest moon?
  8. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Let's compare companies, I worked for them both as a service writer and service manager.

    Here's the sitch: You are 10,000 miles out of warranty, and believe it or not your tranny goes. Poop happens, even with the best of them. You bring it to your dealer and ask for assistance with the bill, because you expect the product to do better.

    The 'Yota service manager:
    Well Mr. Arnold, I'm sorry you had this experience. As you've been a good customer here and you've done your part to service your car regularly, we are going to take care of this for you.

    The Ford service manager:
    First he makes a call to his CR rep at Ford (an entry level job at Ford, some fresh out of college kid reading out of a manual), who states that the policy at Ford for out of warranty assistance is to have Ford participate 50% as long as the dealer kicks in 25% and the customer the other 25%. The bill is around $2400, conservatively. The dealer looks at the prospect of paying $600 himself, looks at what he made on the car and verifies the stipulation that you have had every single maintenance check done there, and that you are the original owner. In total he's made a couple grand or so on your business. He calls you:
    I'm sorry Mr. Arnold, this tranny is going to cost you $2400.

    Add to this the odds that the Ford is much more likely to be in this situation in the first place.

    Best of luck Arnold!
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Didja check out any of the Mazda 3 series? They got the highest grade in the Insurance Institute's 40mph offset front impact crash tests. There's a hatchback and a little wagon thingie.

    The Subaru Outback Sport (looks like the older Impreza wagons) wagon is small, reliable, and big interior.
  10. I have a 2004 Focus ZX3, it does exactly what is expected of it. Don't rule out the Mazda 3 hatchback it's a cool little car too. As far as quality, you will find American cars have really improved. Oh by the way, Focus is made in Mexico, profits come to Dearborn MI. Matrix is built in Canada, profits go to Tokyo. That out of the way, buy the one you are most comfortable with, the focus had the most comfortalbe driver's accomodations for my 6'4" frame, and was $3000 cheaper than a comparable Matrix. The real bassits vehicle is the Honda Element (just ask Gard) but they are a good bit more expensive than the ones you mentioned.

  11. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Don't know if it holds any implications for service, but keep in mind that Ford owns a large, controlling share of Mazda. Those 3s are pretty nice-lookin' rides.

    And not to veer the thread off too wildly, but you bring up a good point, John. Ford's profits go to Dearborn while Toyota's go to Japan, regardless of where the cars are built. However, what's the impact of building in Mexico vs. the Nummi factory in Cali (where the Corolla and Vibe are made), which supports 5500 American jobs right in the plant and sources from over 1500 North American suppliers? Ah... Globalization. That out of the way,

    Ed can chime in on this... You could even liken an automobile purchase to selecting a bass. At the end of the day, if it does what you want it to, then that's the way to go. Even if it doesn't have the SOUND in your head, you can always swap out the muffler for one of those tuner "soup cans." ;)
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    The Outback Sports are simply Impreza's but with stiffer shocks and higher clearance (not to mention diff paint job). I think the impreza would be a great car and very roomy inside for it's size. I've got one and I love it. I have a 2000 model with a 2.2 liter engine. If you wanna be economic, I highly recommend the basic 2.5 liter engine (which is about 145hp or more, I forget). Loads of zip and power. If you're power hungry you can also get the WRX version for the turbo. You should be able to tour easily with it. I can fit my bass, amp, and still have plenty of room for 2 others besides myself before I start tapping even into the roof rack storage.

    IMO, the AWD is worth it alone cuz it makes it alot safer to drive not to mention increase your speed while cornering. Should be a great car for the foul weather up Northeast.

    Price wise the standard 2.5 liter engine impreza has come down to around $16-17K. The older models (pre 2003) have this potentially recurring problem of the rear wheel bearings breaking down because of a bad design on Subaru's part (the races were too thin). I've had to replace mine several times but I think it's not probably going to come back for a long while. The newer models don't have that problem. Personally, I love my car and wouldn't bat an eye buying a 2004 or 2005 model.
  13. Thanks for all the ideas. I didn't realize there was an impreza wagon, but I've already emailed 3 dealers so I can get plenty of spam for the 18th day of Chanukah (Christmas for many). I'll be glad to take any other ideas also. Peace.
  14. I have a 2000 Focus Wagon, built in Michigan. It has 93K on it now. At 30k, right after the dealer serviced it, the automatic transmission failed and Ford replaced it. The fuel pick up has been replaced as well as the ignition switch, although there were TSBs (technical service bullitens [sp]) on both, I paid for the second. I understand both of these problems have been fixed in later models.
    Space wise the car is much better than anything else for the money and milage because the rear suspension has no struts intruding into the cargo area. This gives it very flat interior walls and lots of usable space. I would assume the Focus Hatchback has the same rear suspension.

    Since buying the Focus, we've replaced my wife's Expedition with a Highlander for both milage and reliability issues.

    If I were you, I'd take all the stuff I'm likely to take to a job, to the dealer and see if it easily fits in the car.
  15. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I have a Toyota Matrix and I like it a lot. I can and have fit two upright basses in the thing. It actually has more room than most full size SUV's. It's compact but the higher roof line makes it feel roomy, although I don't really care for the red dashboard display which is hard to read during the day with sunglasses on. Ed's right about the XR. I have the regular edition and if I had to do it again I would opt for the one with more horsepower. I did look at the Ford Focus wagon (which by the way is built in Mexico) but I wasn't impressed.

    - Steve

  16. Polyanski


    Mar 16, 2004
    West Michigan
    I drive Pontiac Vibe ( Pontiac copy of Matrix) .Good thing - passenger seat folding flat so you can fit UB .Back seats folding flat also. Gas milege 33 p/g and it chipper than Toyota Matrix.