We bought this car new. It has not had any problems. We even pull a 10'X6' trailer around town three or four times a year. It has 106,000 miles on it. My kids have broken the back exterior door handles due to pulling down instead of just out (due to their height). Other than that - it is a great car and we consistently get 31 mpg. There is a funny noise it makes when it is 45 degrees or colder until it warms up.
I like the Vibe's styling better, but I got the Matrix because of the yellow color. It's extremely practical, like an SUV w/o the bad gas mileage. I've fit a push mower and a old clunky stationary bike in the back with the seats folded down (not at the same time although that wouldn't be impossible). The gas mileage is good too; I've averaged 27-30 mpg depending on how hard I've driven. It doesn't bother me but if you're gonna get a yellow car be aware that bugs like yellow cars like they like streetlamps. Compared to other cars the A/C is quick to start cooling during the summer. My only issue with it is that it's not very fun to drive. Maybe next time I'll go for the HHR SS,or the Audi A3.
The Color, gas mileage, large cargo space, Cassette Player, A/C, Dash Design, Rear Legroom.
Up the fun factor... a lot, Make Leather seats available, Make rear wipers standard, improve road noise, Better armrests, Height adjustable seat, Longer seat track. Make a hybrid version to compete with the upcoming Fit hybrid. That pretty much covers it.
My 2004 Matrix is only the second car I've owned in 20 years (my 1994 Audi finally died). I was reluctant to "trade down" to a Toyota, but I now have no regrets. This roomy, versatile vehicle is the same size as my little Audi (I measured!), and has a smaller turning radius, too. I have a 5-speed manual transmission that is smooth and fun to use. Driver visibility is fine all around, CD/radio sound system is quite good unless you're traveling at more than 50 MPH, when road noise competes. Cargo/passenger/folding seat options are terrific. Driver seat is very comfortable, even on 4-hour highway trips (can't say the same for the Audi!)I'm averaging 30 mpg on regular fuel.
Body styling, driver visibility, great fuel economy, comfortable seat, peppy little engine/transmission, excellent brakes, versatile interior configuration options for passengers/cargo, outlets to plug in electronic toys, roomy glove box and other little hiding places to stash stuff.
Road noise at higher speeds begs sound insulation in the side doors, which seem flimsy. Starting on wet road surface with manual/clutch transmission is sometimes a wheel- spinning, failure-to-grip-the-road experience.
Sporty vehicle that we loved the look of. Great for short trips, errands, and hauling. Mileage good, but there is a paint issue with the hood that Toyota won't own up to (missing layers of paint after 2-years of ownership). Also, I agree the sound system is poor but what do you expect in this price range? Driver seat seems more comfy than passenger for long trips, uncomfortable for passenger. Basically a bit more attention to quality and they will perfect this model (maybe they have already). Bottle water holders in the door would be a great addition to this model. Nix the cheap backseat beverage holders.
Storage, sporty look, and mileage.
Even though auto lights are safer, it was nice to be able to "flash" lights at other drivers who did not have them on. Paint quality issue on hood never resolved (chipped many layers), bulb for the gear shift is out and we have no idea what to do. Make seats more comfortable. Improve sound sys.
I bought this car in 2003 (2004 model) and now have 76000 miles on it! Not a single problem! I have a manuel transmission and it is so much fun to drive. It's young and stylish and I wouldn't trade it for any other car :)