2004 Toyota Matrix XRS Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 6M)
I purchased this car new with the intent of keeping it a long time with Toyota's reputation. This is the 5th brand new car I have purchased and my first Toyota. It is also my last Toyota. I have never had more problems or put more money into maintaining a car than this one. I just traded this car in with only 83,000 miles on it because I did not want to sink any more repair money into it. Unusual problem areas: neck to gas tank was rusting and would not allow gas cap to seal so car will not pass state emission tests - cost of total repair was over a thousand. Transmission failures after 80k on Matrix (cost over 3k).
The Matrix is fun to drive and offers flexible storage with great gas mileage.
Improved quality! Not only is there poor quality but Toyota refuses to back anything up.
I purchased this car new. No major problems, only had to replace a battery and the headlamps after 5 years! Comfort is excellent on long trips, have driven 1K miles a day in it on trips. Gas mileage is also excellent. At 63 MPH have obtained better than 36 MPG, did 38.1 MPG once, no complaints here. The AWD is an excellent advantage in extreme rain drenched roads and snow. Never have been able to spin the tires. I am using Michelin Hydroedge tires, the car really handles quite well. Just keep the required maintenance up and this car will last a long time.
The AWD with the right tire combination makes the car very road worthy and quite safe to drive where other cars would be questionable under the same circumstances.
Engine could be a bit quieter, but considering the performance so far, quite a fair trade off.
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.