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.