I read a lot of tepid & dismissive reviews before I purchase the Matrix S. I've driven many of the cars recommended as alternatives. I think the problem is perception. The look of the Matrix is a bit sportier than its performance. But the gap between its main contender, the Fit, is even greater. If you accept that no one really cares what you drive, so don't rely on your car to define your personality, what you get in the Matrix is Balance. I think this balance is what confounds the automag pros. A little sporty, a lot practical, amazingly reliable. Design is Clean & Simple, Driving is Balanced & Poised. Quick & smooth without being completely lifeless. A sport hatch for the pragmatic.
I like the ground effects. The AC vents are great, a small detail but I detest vents that won't aim or stay put. I love the AutoStick. My wife can drive auto, and I can shift. Shifting works best 'clean'; rev it, get off the gas, shift up, hit the gas. It's nice to flip into 'D' if my cell rings.
I love the clear Gauges and lack of buttons on the steering wheel. The controls are clean & simple. A little more color on the console would be nice. Maybe red rings around AC controls that match the Opitron gauges. That would make the interior pop a bit more.
As a previous Matrix owner I had certain expectations for the new model. My previous was a 2005 XR, my new model is the larger motor S with a 5 speed auto. The new model has much better pickup and feels more confident on the road. The downside to this is the fuel economy is lackluster. My best mileage when all highway miles was just at 30 mpg. My old matrix I averaged 30 overall with a lot of city driving, and had more than a few 36 mpg tanks. So far after only 5800 miles I've averaged 23 mpg with this car. For comparison, my old V6 Oldsmobile Alero got better mileage. I'm very disappointed in the fuel economy of the larger engine, I keep my tires inflated properly and drive conservatively.
The engine has much better acceleration than previous model. That is mostly from the larger engine.
Address the fuel economy of the 5 speed automatic with the 2.4 liter engine. I've been getting worse overall (and highway) mileage that I received on my 2001 V6 Oldsmobile Alero.
2009 Toyota Matrix S 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
2009 Toyota matrix ....Grey interior ....problem with seat staining from getting wet, seats replaced 2 times front and back still having the same problems ....3 water leaks.....replaced the carpets....car still smells mildew...Is this Toyota quality???? Toyota needs to do something!!!!!!! I had a 2005 matrix - good little car, shouldn't have ever traded in.
I recently came off a trip and the mileage I got with my Toyota Matrix was 40 mpg going and 41 mpg returning. It's no bull. I couldn't believe it myself. I never drove over 62 mph; used cruise control; and I was the only person in the car. The car operated flawlessly. I'm 73 and this is probably the best vehicle I have ever owned. I have owned many.
Bought an'09 base model 1.8L manual with power package June 1 of 2008 for 16K. Have 13500 miles on it. Smooth ride, smooth shifting, excellent stability control for cornering, excellent disc brakes, decent gas mileage (28-29 city and 34-35 highway), good cargo capacity (can fit my bike w/o taking wheel off), very readable dash, adjustable telescopic steering wheel, seat comfort lacking in lumbar support, poor paint job (easily scratches from road debris), and horrible rear visibility (almost didn't buy it because of poor visibility). Given price difference with a Prius, e.g. 16K vs 23K, I figured it was a better value. Glad I bought it.
brakes, cargo space, driver's seat a couple of inches higher than most comparable cars, stability control, smooth ride and smooth shifting, price, extremely reliable
Improving rear visibility is a MUST - not with cameras which can break, but with different rear window/pillar design. More comfortable seats, i.e. lumbar support, and a better paint job would be nice as well.