I bought my Matrix, new, in Sept '02 and since then have only put 52K on it.
I have done all of the routine maintenance and have only ever had to replace the serpentine belt a few times and one brake light bulb.
This car has been more reliable than I ever could have hoped for.
Plus, it has great cargo capacity.
I can load it with dozens of bags of mulch, or a week's worth of camping gear.
Even my 29 inch mountain bike fits in the back with the seats down.
I will admit, on long drives the seating position can become annoying, but bring a small pillow or something and you can go for hours, plus, you won't need to stop for gas often!
Avg MPG, 30 in summer, 26 in winter.
It has a very wide cargo opening when considering the size of the car overall.
The rear seats truly fold flat, and the front passenger seat does as well.
I love that it sits slightly higher than a typical small car, so I'm not falling into it when I get in, or climbing to get out.
It also has rear seat heat/AC floor ducts, which was unusual for this class of car in 2002.
Keep up on the maintenance and this car should easily get 200k miles.
Also, if you put low profile tires on the Matrix, you will absolutely notice a loss in ride comfort.
Not terrible, but on long trips it can be fatiguing.
We bought our 2003 Matrix used in 2005. It had just over 20K km on the clock. It now has 260K. It has really been trouble free motoring - replaced 2 wheel bearings otherwise only routine maintenance. It has maintained a very adequate fuel economy. We love this vehicle so much that we are buying a 2013 model with as close as possible the features of our present one. Everything still works fine.
Spaciousness and comfort. Exterior finish is as good as new even though we live in a very harsh climate.
The instrument dial is hard to read in bright sunlight. Blindspot when reversing. Plastic finish in luggage compartment has proved to be brittle in extreme cold.
This was our first new car purchase, and given our extensive Toyota experience (5 previous used Toyotas), we were expecting much. The flexibility of a 64/40 fold-flat rear seat with solid plastic cargo liner was outstanding. So too was the fold-forward passenger seats, which extend the size of possible cargo to 8' in length! Unfortunately the other aspects of the car weren't panning out so well. To summarize, performance, economy, fit-and-finish, trouble free driving, and fun to drive quotients were just not living up to the claims. After repeated problems with MAP sensors and various parts breaking repeatedly, if fell out of love. Now 7 years old, I've seen enough of my last Toyota.
Cargo configuration and interior room are excellent. The split rear folds flat and has included cargo tie-down points. This car can move an incredible amount of stuff.
Poor build quality: Exterior door handles break off regularly (common problem, try a web search). 3 MAP sensors replaced under warranty. Cheap interior trim, painted parts scratch easily, other parts fall off. Stereo died at 3 years. Anemic acceleration with 30% less mileage than claimed.
My 2003 5-speed only has just over 77,000 miles on it and the bearings in the transmission are going. I bought a Toyota specifically to have a long- lasting, good car. I called Toyota customer service and got the same story about not taking it to a dealership for routine maintenance so they couldn't help me if the car hadn't been properly maintained.
I bought this Matrix about two months ago with 175,000 miles on it for my daily 400 mile courier route and it's been great - so far. Since a 200 mile leg allows me to drive at only 55 mph, I net almost 33 mpg across the entire route - which is better than I expected. The car rides great, runs smooth, and shifts easily so it's been a pleasure to drive.
I like all the little storage compartments, the great gas mileage, and the smooth ride.
I hear an occasional vibration noise or whistling wind. I was surprised that there was no cruise control or electric side mirrors (both standard equipment on my '98 Mazda Protege).