We bought our Matrix new in 2003 and have loved it! The Matrix provides the fuel economy of a compact with the cargo space of a ... well, not a full size SUV but much more than a compact. We regularly get more the 30 miles to the gallon. It also manuvers easliy like a compact. There has not been a shopping trip yet that hasn't been carted home easily. The rear seats fold flat providing enough space for us to haul things like: lawn mower, wheel barrow, Bowflex, crib mattress and crib (disassembled), strollers, pack-n-plays, etc, not all of these things at once but many together. The seats are not slung back like many sedan type cars; they are more upright like SUVs which I think is more comfortable. Not only has our Matrix been reliable in getting our stuff to and fro around town; it's also comfortable on long road trips. We've taken several 1000+ mile trips and shorter 250 mile trips including 2 adults and two middle school aged boys. We had enough space for everyone (though it might have been nice to have the roof rack) and no car troubles. Aside from the roof rack, you might want to consider the larger 6-cylnider engine if you'll be hualing goods or people regularly. That's why I rated performance at only 4 stars, but it's to be expected for 4 cylinders. We get compliments on our car everywhere we go, from the exterior look to surprise at how much it holds.
I recently purchased my Toyota Matrix. Its such a good car. I have 2 girls, a 7 and 4 year old, we have to have room for all their belongings and this car is roomy and the hatch/trunk is awesome! Lots of room back there. We love the color, the way it drives, the sound is amazing and it came with a 5 disc in dash changer. Super awesome. One thing we love and is unique, car has a regular car charger portal, but also an electric outlet, so i can charge my cell and the children can plug their regular chargers for their DS's and stuff. Love it!! Another great thing, the front passenger seat folds, so when I put the A/C, i fold the seat and the children can feel the A/C a lot better. We love our car. Couldn't be happier with it.
Excellent car. Very versatile for such a small vehicle, carrying either passengers or cargo. Economical too as it is very good on gas. Given that it's a Toyota, it will no doubt be a quality car for years to come. It also has a sporty look for a hatchback. The XR model has a regular electrical outlet in the dash, one of the most handy additions I've seen in a car. Highly recommended.