When we were looking to buy, we had a few primary concerns: cargo space, being able to park it in NYC, mileage, price, and of course safety. We're thrilled with the Matrix because it's delivered on all fronts. Playing in a band, I need to haul alot of equipment around with me- it has more than enough space and the plastic cargo area is durable and eases loading in/out. It's shorter (though taller and wider) than the Corolla, and parking even in tight spots has been a breeze. the MPG has been at around 28-32, depending on where i'm driving (city or hwy), and this will go up over the next year or two. i paid 15,000 for it, which i was happy with! and it's gotten great safety ratings!
Ergonimcal interior design, high placement of the manual shift (closer to the steering wheel). plenty of cargo space compared to most hatchbacks. Plastic cargo area. overall economy of the vehicle. better than average factory stereo. VERY good pickup and handling for a small car!
A less wimpy horn. better placement of the coin holder (it's under the parking brake, which is hard to reach). more adjustible drivers side seating. a less flimsy trunk cover. I HATE plastic bumpers- at least have an option of a real bumper that doesn't break or chip if someone bumps you lightly.