2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix
How to upgrade the stereo system in your Vibe or Matrix
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your car's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:
- The factory stereo system
- Removing the factory radio
- Removing the factory speakers
- Adding more bass
- Other options for your Vibe or Matrix
Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car.
Overview of the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix
The Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix share a lot more than exceedingly cool early-Aughts names. If fact, they share pretty much everything save for some deep internal parts and the more noticeable brand-specific details like styling, trim, and, in some cases, stereo gear.
Just because platform-sharing is economical for manufacturers doesn’t mean it can't be fun for drivers. These identical cousins are practical enough for a trip to the warehouse store and peppy enough to make the trip interesting.
Whether you call them compacts, crossovers, hatchbacks, or sport wagons, the Vibe and Matrix have a lot to offer. And because there's a whole lot of Toyota Corolla baked into the package, you'll probably get a lot of miles out of yours. With that in mind, an updated stereo seems like a pretty smart way to make a good car even better.
The stock radios look a little different, but the dash itself is the basically same in both cars. So is the removal and replacement process. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory stereo system
The stock stereo packages differed a bit, so while the removal and replacement essentials are mostly the same for both cars, there are some differences in the premium systems.
Buyers could choose from base and navigation receivers, and 4-speaker, 6-speaker, and 7-speaker premium systems (Monsoon for Pontiac, JBL for Toyota) were available as well. Each premium system offered a rear subwoofer, located in the rear side panel on the passenger's side.
Replacing the JBL receiver in a Matrix comes with a couple of additional challenges. There is no wiring harness available, so you'll either need to splice into the factory wires or use Posi-Products connectors. We recommend the latter, because it's a lot easier and quite likely more secure. You'll also need to bypass the factory amplifier, and the harness included with our installation packages handles that for you.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
In the Vibe, replacing the radio means losing OnStar voice prompts and the factory satellite radio. The satellite radio is pretty easy to replace, at least. And with the Pontiac's Monsoon system, you can use the factory amp with an aftermarket receiver.
This dash kit fits right into the cavity and holds a single-DIN receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory radio in your Vibe/Matrix
Before you get started, set the parking brake and disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short. Once that's done, you're ready to get to work.
And there's not much work, really. Use a panel tool to pry out the bottom and sides of the receiver trim panel to release the retaining clip, then pull the bottom of trim panel out and up. Disconnect the harnesses and remove the panel. Stash the panel in a clean, safe place, then remove the four 10mm screws securing the factory radio. Disconnect the harness on left side of the radio, then disconnect the wiring harness and antenna.
When you buy your new receiver at Crutchfield, you'll save some money on the dash kit (when needed) and wiring harness adapters you'll need to install your new stereo. Both come with their own instructions, so follow those (along with your Crutchfield MasterSheet) and you'll be good to go.
You'll need to use the factory brackets to install a double-DIN receiver, so if they're missing for some reason, you'll need to visit the dealer (or go online) to acquire replacements.
Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat-blade screwdriver, 10mm socket, and a ratchet and extension
Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.
Steering wheel audio controls
In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your car's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with a compatible aftermarket receiver.
You'll have plenty of good options when you replace your car's door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the factory speakers
The front door speakers/woofers can be replaced by a variety of 6-3/4" or 6-1/2" aftermarket speakers. The tweeters, present only on JBL or Monsoon systems, are 1-1/2" models and most component tweeters will work nicely. Exactly what fits your Matrix or Vibe will depend on the stock system, and our Outfit My Car tool will make sure you choose the right size.
You'll need to remove the door panels to replace the speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing your front door speakers
Removing these speakers is pretty easy, but you will have to remove the door panels. You'll start by using a panel tool to pry off the sail panel on the top of the door. There's only one retaining clip, so this won't take a lot of effort on your part.
Next, pry open the screw cover in the door release recess and remove one exposed Phillips screw. Remove one Phillips screw from the bottom of the door pull cup, then pry the cup out and set it aside.
Keep that panel tool handy, because the next thingyou'll do is remove the power options switch panel by prying at the top edge to release the retaining clip. Once it's free, remove the panel, disconnect the wiring harness and remove the entire assembly. To remove the door panel, pry around the outer edges of the panel to release eight retaining clips. Lift off the panel and set it aside, preferably in a clean, safe place.
The tweeters are easy to remove and pretty easy to replace (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the tweeters
The tweeter/bracket assemblies are held in place by a pair of 10mm nuts. Remove those, then disconnect the wiring harness and remove the whole assembly. Remove one Phillips screw from the rear of the tweeters to separate it from the bracket.
If your new tweeter has a screw hole on the back, they you might be able to use that to mount it in place of the old tweeter. Otherwise, use our universal backstraps (or hot glue or silicone) to secure the new tweeter, and secure it to the factory bracket. You'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect the new speaker to the factory wiring.
The Toyota's JBL speakers have this cool orange surround (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the woofers
Removing or replacing the woofers (or full-range speakers in base cars) is pretty simple, but you'll need to do some drilling no matter which car or stereo system you're dealing with.
To remove the speakers, you'll need a drill and a 1/8" (or 1/4" for base speakers) bit to drill out the rivets that secure them. Once that's done, pull the old speaker out and set it aside.
You'll need to drill new holes for the speaker mounting bracket that's included with your Crutchfield speaker purchase. You'll also get the speaker wiring adapter you need.
Drilling out rivets and making new holes isn't difficult, but whenever you're drilling into your car (or anyone else's, for that matter), it's important to know what's around and behind the place you're drilling into. Work carefully and wear eye protection.
Once the new speakers are installed, be sure to test them before you put the door back together. If everything's working properly, you're ready to start putting the doors back together. Take some time to check the door locks and windows, too, before you consider the job finished.
If you're working on a JBL-equipped Martix, shop carefully, because replacing the 1- or 2-ohm factory speakers with higher-impedance aftermarket speakers will result in lower volume levels.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, Torx T-20 driver, 10mm socket, ratchet and extension, drill and 1/8" or 1/4" bit
Drilling out the rivets that hold the speakers in place isn't all that difficult (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the rear door speakers
The factory rear door speakers vary in size a bit, depending on the model and the type of factory audio system. From the JBL-equipped Matrix and its low-impedance 4" speakers to the Vibe's 6-1/2" speakers, there are some notable variances in what you're starting with. Where you end up will be determined with the help of our vehicle database, and all you need to do is enter your vehicle information to see what your options are.
As with the front door speakers, you'll need to drill out some rivets and do some things to accommodate whatever new speakers you choose. You may also need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect the new gear to the factory wiring. Mounting brackets and wiring harnesses are available with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
If it sounds like we're glossing over the details, it's because, well, we are. Getting into the details of each Matrix/Vibe variation would take some time, and all the info can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet anyway. The work isn’t hard (the process is very similar to the front doors), so you'll likely be fine. If you have questions, remember that any Crutchfield stereo or speaker purchase includes free tech support for the life of the gear. Got a question about your installation? Give us a call.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, Torx T-20 driver, drill and 1/8" or 1/4" bit
Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.
Getting to the factory subwoofer involves a fair amount of work (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Vibe or Matrix
Both the Pontiac and Toyota 7-speaker systems include a 6-3/4" subwoofer on the passenger's side of the cargo area. Removing and replacing this sub takes some time and effort, but the sonic improvement is worth it.
As you might expect, there's some stuff in the way, and that's where the work comes from. It's not hard, but it is work. it's still a thoroughly do-able DIY project, though, and all the disassembly details for your Matrix or Vibe can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.
As we've noted earlier, replacing this low-impedance sub with a higher-impedance aftermarket model will result in lower volume levels. Keep that in mind when you're sub shopping.
Tools needed (Matrix): Panel tool, 10mm socket, ratchet and extension
Tools needed (Vibe): Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm sockets, ratchet and extension, Torx T-20 driver
There's a decent amount of room for a subwoofer enclosure back here (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Adding bass to your Vibe or Matrix
If your Vibe or Matrix doesn't have a sub already, it'll be kind of difficult to put a new one in that side location because a lot of fabrication work will be involved. On the other hand, the cargo area offers a decent amount of space if you want to add a subwoofer in an enclosure. Exactly how much space depends on which car you have. The Matrix offers a 12"H x 40"W x 52"/21" D space, while the Vibe gives you a 15" H x 41" W x 32"/24" D space. Remember, we said these cars were identical cousins, not identical twins.
Of course, if you use your cargo area for, y'know, cargo, you might want to reserve as much space as possible for luggage and groceries and things. If so, a more compact powered subwoofer will be a better choice for your Vibe or Matrix.
Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.
Adding Dynamat will keep road noise from messing with your sound quality
Other options for your car
Here are some other ideas for your Vibe or Matrix. If you want to see more, check out our Automotive Accessories section.
These are remarkably handy, efficient cars, but whisper-quiet, they ain't. While Lexus-like silence is probably unattainable, there are some things you can do to hear more music and less exterior noise. Lining the doors with Dynamat when you install your new speakers can really help you hear the sounds you want to hear.
Add an amp (or two)
The factory amp is an issue in these cars, and a new amplifier will help you get the most out of your new speakers anyway. You'll get cleaner power (and a lot more of it), which will result in much, much better sound. A mono amp can provide the juice you need for your new subwoofer, too. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.
Quality mats and liners from WeatherTech will help protect your Vibe or Matrix from dirt, damage, dog hair, and discarded coffee cups. At this point in the car's life, the factory mats are probably trashed anyway, so an upgrade will look better and work a lot better.
Installing a security system in your Vibe or Matrix isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's less complicated than it could be and it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.