We've had our new Matrix for 6 weeks now, and are in love with it! We wanted a car or SUV with great gas mileage, but that is big enough that I (at 6' and 260lbs) could comfortably ride or drive (rear-view mirrors in small cars tend to sit in the middle of my line of sight), and with enough room in the back to handle a carseat or two, should that time come soon. We hoped it would have enough pick-up to get on the highway with the short and unpredictable on-ramps around here, and have at least a little class. Finally, we wanted, above all, a car that was dependable, and easy to repair if needed (as opposed to the Mini Cooper we turned in, which required you to take off the bumper and remove the radiator for every mundane repair). We were able to find the best combination of all of these elements in the Matrix. It really does average about 30 mpg, I can fit comfortably in any seat, the mirror is noticably higher than other small cars I sat in, and the hatchback with fold-flat rear seats made transporting luggage and Christmas gifts a breeze! It is certainly no sports car, or even luxury sedan, but it does fine getting up the on-ramp and around traffic. As a bonus, the front wheel drive and traction control made driving in the ice and snow much easier. It is a bit louder on the road than a sedan because of the hatchback, but only just. It does have some style inside and out, and the interior feels like quality materials, but if I had one complaint, it would be the somewhat spartan interior. And Toyota's track record for dependability has been stellar in my personal experience. A little online research confirmed what I suspected in terms of cost-of-ownership. Parts are cheap and repairs routine, too. In short: Pros: gas mileage, roominess, quality interior construction, hatchback convenience, reliability Cons: definitely not a sports car, interior is all plastic everywhere, a tiny bit noisier than a sedan Summary: It's great for couples with no kids yet, or as a smaller vehicle for those that do. College kids will appreciate the amount of stuff they can haul in one trip, as well, while not wasting too much on gas money. It's comfortable on long drives or zooming around town. But, it is a "no frills" sort of car -- no LCD screens or cameras or subwoofers.
Comfort, handling/"zip", design (use of space, wheel base, etc--not looks; don't care about that) and DEPENDABILITY!
Pros- roomy cargo, comfortable seats, toyota quality. Cons- extremely noisy, lousy radio, bumpy ride.