I needed an economical, affordable, and reliable car for around town and to commute to work in. The Matrix fits what I need exactly, it's big enough for a child seat in the back seat, has the versatility of a "mini" SUV, is pretty stylish, and is actually fun (enough) to drive every day. The 1.8L with 5 speed won't win any races, but is surprisingly smooth and refined, especially on the highway. I know a lot of reviews on the new Matrix are filled with critics, but I really think it's a great little car for what it tries to be. Our other car is a Lexus, and our 3rd Lexus - the Matrix gauges have the same feel of the new IS, really. Give the Matrix a shot, I'm glad I didn't buy a Civic.
Fuel economy, front styling, practical.
Alloy wheels on base model, better base sound system.