The 2013 Toyota Matrix five-door compact hatchback has always been the Toyota that gets ignored.

Now comes word that it may, in fact, leave the market altogether when the current Corolla on which it's based is redesigned for 2014.

From assumptions that it had gone out of production in 2009--it hadn't, as this site had to point out to ourselves--to a recently reduced array of features and equipment options, the Matrix chugs along with steady but unspectacular sales.

Although they are related under the skin, Toyota's compact hatchback is hugely overshadowed by the hundreds of thousands of Corolla compact sedans sold every year.

Autoweek reports "a strong possibility" that the Matrix will not be renewed for the U.S. market.

Puzzlingly, the article says the Toyota Matrix hatchback would continue to be sold in Canada, although sales in that market--a fraction of the U.S. volume--hardly seem likely to justify development of a new Matrix, which heretofore has been a model sold only in North America.

It's possible that Canada's somewhat higher car prices might justify a Matrix that would be a relabeled Auris, the new and high-volume hatchback Toyota just launched in Europe.

Despite surging sales of compact hatchbacks for Ford in its Focus line, Toyota apparently believes its compact buyers prefer sedans to such a degree that a new Matrix wouldn't be worth the trouble for the U.S.

2011 Toyota Matrix

2011 Toyota Matrix

And the current Matrix is hardly helped by subpar fuel economy, at just 29 mpg for the best model.

The Matrix does have one attractive feature not found in any Corolla: optional all-wheel drive (popular in Canada), although it drives mileage down further, to 23 mpg combined.

Toyota is notably opaque about its product plans, so we'll no doubt find out in time whether the Matrix will vanish or reappear with the new 2014 Toyota Corolla.

Meanwhile, if you've been thinking about buying a Toyota Matrix--you may want to think harder.

Just in case it does go away.


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