Toyota 'Matrix' World Premiere

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DETROIT, Jan. 8 The Toyota "Matrix" was unveiled today at a world premiere press conference at the 2001 North American International Auto Show. Matrix combines the functionality of an SUV, the style, image and performance of a sports car and the affordability of a subcompact sedan. According to Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager, Matrix is the result of listening carefully to what is most-important to young new-car buyers. "Young buyers want vehicles that are high in image, and high in functional utility," Esmond said. "The problem is that utility and image have always come at a price out-of-range for most young buyers. Matrix will be active, accommodating, adaptable and, most important, affordable." Matrix will ride on a new platform that is similar to that of Corolla, a logical decision designed to ensure the affordability that is key to the Matrix formula. Matrix will be offered in three trim levels, each with a distinctive level of utility and performance. Buyers will be offered a choice of either front-, or four-wheel drive systems, with either manual or automatic transmissions. The standard four-cylinder engine for Matrix will be ULEV-rated. It will feature Toyota's variable-valve technology and deliver 130 horsepower. The Matrix sport model, unveiled at the press conference, will push that performance envelope considerably. The sport model will feature the same 180-horsepower engine and six-speed manual transmission found in the Celica GT-S. Power will be complemented by a sport-tuned suspension and standard 17-inch wheels and tires. Toyota's CALTY Design Studio, in Newport Beach, Calif., was responsible for the initial styling concept for Matrix. CALTY's assignment was to render a fresh new take on the basic SUV configuration of four-doors-and-a-hatch. CALTY's styling theme for Matrix was "Street-Performance Utility." The design would be biased toward sport, while maintaining the image and reality of true utility. Designers capitalized on recent advances in metal stamping techniques, to create "edge-web" body panels. The edge-web detailing integrates sharp surface edges with rounded web-like contours to create strong, flowing character lines. Not only is Matrix configured like an SUV, it was designed to offer the kind of interior function and flexibility consumers have come to expect in a sport utility vehicle. It will feature ... -- ample room for five passengers, -- a wealth of storage space, -- rear seats that fold into a flat floor -- and surprising convertibility. A new cargo-floor sliding track system was developed especially for Matrix. The system will be the basis for a wide variety of accessory possibilities, designed to adapt to, and accommodate, specific active lifestyles. Matrix will be built exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Canada, in Cambridge, Ontario.

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