I just sold my Matrix XR after 162k trouble free miles. The only problem I ever had with the car was the original battery failing at 6mo. Even normal maintenance was pretty cheap with the car; (obviously oil, belts, coolant, air filters are really time based and don't vary from car to car) the Matrix was very easy on brakes & gas and decent on tires too.
The car drove well with that nice Toyota balance of good comfort and reasonable handling. The ability to haul stuff is excellent! The rear seats fold completely flat, the front passenger seat also folds, and you can open the entire hatch or just the glass. All together, the combined to make a great car for road trips or oven to the lumberyard for 2x4's. If I could change one thing it would have been power- another gear in the tranny and 20 lb-ft more torque would have really helped (was disappointed with Toyota when the next generation came out and didn't address these issues, they were the only problems with the design).
If you're reading this, you're probably looking at a used Matrix... if it's been well maintained, go for it. It should treat you very well in the long run.
I've never owned a car I liked better. In fact, when the time came to upsize to a mini-van, I traded in my newer Honda Civic which had a lot fewer miles. The Matrix had proven itself a better car all around. This car very comfort for someone under 6 feet tall. It's robust, has tons of cargo space and gets good gas milage 27-28 mpg hwy. I use mine to commute 50 miles to work everyday and another 50 miles back home.
I love the XRS. I actually had a XR and it was a great car too, but I wanted something in a manual. This is a fast little car at approx. 4500 RPM. What is great you dont have to go that high and drive it economically. For a car that is fun, roomy, comfortable, decent MPG, and sporty. Look no further.
We bought or XRS new, fully loaded except for navigation. We have driven our car all over the east coast. It has never left us stranded. My wife usually drives it and baby's it. When I drive it, I drive it like I stole it. Besides replacing the a/c compressor and switch, the only thing we've had trouble with was cheap plastics and the clutch. Our 1st clutch went at 80k miles and is ready to go up again at 166k miles. Will invest in the heavy duty clutch this time. A small oil leak developed at 150k miles on the valve covers. We love our '04 matrix so much we are looking for another "03 to '05 before they're all gone and high mileage.