2004 Toyota Matrix Wagon AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
I just sold my Matrix XR after 162k trouble free miles. The only problem I ever had with the car was the original battery failing at 6mo. Even normal maintenance was pretty cheap with the car; (obviously oil, belts, coolant, air filters are really time based and don't vary from car to car) the Matrix was very easy on brakes & gas and decent on tires too.
The car drove well with that nice Toyota balance of good comfort and reasonable handling. The ability to haul stuff is excellent! The rear seats fold completely flat, the front passenger seat also folds, and you can open the entire hatch or just the glass. All together, the combined to make a great car for road trips or oven to the lumberyard for 2x4's. If I could change one thing it would have been power- another gear in the tranny and 20 lb-ft more torque would have really helped (was disappointed with Toyota when the next generation came out and didn't address these issues, they were the only problems with the design).
If you're reading this, you're probably looking at a used Matrix... if it's been well maintained, go for it. It should treat you very well in the long run.
We bought or XRS new, fully loaded except for navigation. We have driven our car all over the east coast. It has never left us stranded. My wife usually drives it and baby's it. When I drive it, I drive it like I stole it. Besides replacing the a/c compressor and switch, the only thing we've had trouble with was cheap plastics and the clutch. Our 1st clutch went at 80k miles and is ready to go up again at 166k miles. Will invest in the heavy duty clutch this time. A small oil leak developed at 150k miles on the valve covers. We love our '04 matrix so much we are looking for another "03 to '05 before they're all gone and high mileage.
My wife loves the 6 speed manual tranny. The 6 cd changer stereo sound was nice but now needs speakers. The 110 volt receptacle was awesome for her laptop charging along the foldable front seat for college. The versatile seating arrangements have been awesome for Home Depot runs to throwing my bike in to family vacations up and down the east coast. Moon roof rocks too. Great handling with 17' rims, but the tires get pricey. My son is 13 and wants one for when he starts driving. It's been a great family car. Handled his car seat well. 32 miles per gallon rocket. Added a hitch which was bolt on because Toyota had welded bolts for a hitch already. Use it to move my jet boat around our yard.
Bring back the 6 speed 180hp 1.8 liter motor with a heavier clutch. They improved the front facia which was too low and often scraped up in '05. There were some cheesy plastic parts inside such as panel covers. The liftgate cover eventually fell off. Road noise and a stiff ride was my only complaint. My wife loves the ride and said she loved the sporty stiffness and handling. To each his own. My Dodge Ram has half the mileage of our Matrix and has been in the shop twice if not three times as much.
I got the matrix certified used in 2008, and never had any problems with it.
I'm at 90,300 miles and it still runs great. It has great cargo capacity for home improvement projects.
I've hauled anything from a 55" led TV in the box, to 600 lbs of ceramic tile, and it works like a champ.
Good acceleration, good gas mileage.
Like others, I have a tiny complaint about the small compartment under the shifter not staying shut, but other than that and some random rattling at times, it has been wonderful.
We also have a 2004 corolla, and have experienced nothing but the best quality from Toyota.
We're happy Toyota customers, who will be grabbing the 2014 Highlander as soon as it shows up.
Cargo capacity, slick sporty upholstery
Compartment under shifter never stays shut, some rattling that is probably due to the car being almost 10 yrs old.
2004 Toyota Matrix Wagon Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
I bought my Matrix used in '08 with 52k. It's currently at 103k and I still haven't had any problems with it, aside from regular maintenance (oil/filter changes, replaced tires/brake pads). It's my first car and I've really enjoyed its mix of practicality, fuel economy, and relative sportiness. That's sportiness relative to a camry or corolla; it's relatively fun to drive around town, but the fun is limited beyond that. I'm a college student, so the flexible cargo area is great for the frequent moves, group trips to the grocery store, and weekend getaways. As far as style, the asymmetrical dash is cool and the exterior is sporty enough (the solar yellow paint helps). It's been a great car.
-30 mpg (avg.)
-Flexible cargo area, with fold flat seats
-The solar yellow paint
-Road noise could be better (by which I obviously mean quieter)
-Power is good in town and adequate on the highway, but not much better than that.
-Handling and ride quality are adequate, but could be improved.
-More standard features. Specifically, rear wipers and automatic side-mirrors, telescoping steering wheel, and more options for driver seat-adjustment. Leather heated seats would be a nice option, too.