Was deciding between the Vibe, Mazda3, Mazda6, Passat, and Matrix. Decided on the Vibe/Passat based on price, gas mileage and test drives, then chose the Matrix because I started to prefer its style over the Vibe. Love the Matrix, kicks the crap out of my old '99 Chevy Metro which got a little better MPG, had no acceleration, but was a great college car (cheap and reliable). Love the storage space. I have been keeping a complete record of the gas mileage since I got the car and it gets an average of 28 MPG (the way I drive), but is capable of getting up to 33 MPG (if you drive really efficiently).
A CD-player that can read MP3 CDs would be nice (maybe that was an option I didn't see though). Better starter tires! Mine came with Continentals and I already need new ones at 22k miles because of cupping.
I love the 2006 Toyota Matrix. It's a well-built, peppy, fuel economic car that's fun to drive. The only problem we have with it is that the small rear windows (hatch and behind the doors) create bigger blind spots, but once you get to know the car, it's not so bad. My husband and I bought this car after our 2005 Matrix was totaled. A speeding drunk driver jumped a sloped median, landing his Jeep Cherokee V8 on the hood of our Matrix, then flipped over and crushed part of our roof. My husband and I were injured, but WE WALKED AWAY, vowing to buy another Matrix since that one saved our lives. I heard that the Matrix may be replaced in Toyota's line-up, so get one while you can!
6-disc CD changer, sun/moon roof, great turning radius, decent amount of pep, instrument panel laid out nicely, storage for everything, you actually sit a little taller than in most cars so there's a better view of the road, handles nicely around tight turns, (proven) safety features.
Windows in back could be bigger and the detachable rear headrests further decrease visibility until you're used to the car. Sidenote: airbag gas (all cars) smells like burning plastic. No one mentions this and people in crashes have actually made their injuries worse trying to get away from a "fire".
Comfortable to drive and well laid out on the interior. Very spacious when the back seat is folded down. MPG is excellent, I average 40 mpg on long trips!!
Driver's seat is able to lift up so short people can have a better line of vision. Passenger seat folds forward and lays completly flat. Of course I love the extras: 6 cd stereo, sun roof, alloy whels, ABS brakes.
Glove compartment is too small to hold the book w/the owners manual. The little compartments are cheap plastic and fall apart when you try to use them.
Matrix is like my son'e MINI cooper for $10000 less. Great car, quality, reliability, fun and roomy. Only changes I recommend would be remove coin slot under handbrake, very hard to get to. Left side instruments have no lighting at night.
Everything, size outside, inside room. Very comfortable cloth seats. Economical car. Bargain for the price. Car is very peppy. I out accelerate Porsches.
Coin slot under handbrake is hard to get at. Lighting on left side of dashboard is dark at night. Cargo area needs cloth. Metal and plastic items are noisy when they roll around. Black color exterior shows every scratch and dirt. Never will buy black again.