Bought Matrix XR in a 5-speed, which is an absolute must. This is not a fast car even with a manual; I can imagine how slow an automatic would be. But with gas over $3, horsepower is highly overrated. I didn't get the option for ABS, but wish I would have. The standard, stock brakes are average at best and don't leave me feeling too confident in them. Stopping distance seems really long. I really enjoy the way it drives. It's very roomy inside. I'm about 6'2" and I feel very comfortable in the car. Tons of room in the back. Plenty of headroom for backseat passengers. Plus, it looks cool. I would definitely get the XR with the cooler looking bodykit over the base model.
Gas mileage good - averaged 29.5 in first couple tanks of mixed driving. Great handling. Looks great.