I like the looking of Matrix, and the interior seems large because of its height. The gas mileage of my car is about 25mpg (local) and 30mpg (highway). Because it is higher than other sedans, the view is pretty good on the drive seat. The main drawback is the engine noise -- I have to keep turning the radio volume up and down whenever the driving speed changes. The engine doesn't seem to have enough horse power for its weight. So if you are looking for a "fun" drive experience, it's definitely not a good choice. However, it is very convenient car. The interior space is decent, and the rear seats can be totally put down for large luggages.
M choice was a RAV4 however! the matrix fits my desires in a car and for less cost. Mileage and passenger space excellent. My passengers are mostly over 6' tall. and the storage room is great.
First, I want to respond to a number of things I read about the Toyota Matrix that almost caused me to not consider it, inluding noisy, clunky, uncomfortable. I have the XRS model, which includes the larger engine, wider tires and a number of other nice features. As small cars go it is quiet. The seating is NOT uncomfortable, and this is from a guy with significant back problems. Considering the small wheelbase the ride is very good. The designers of the Matrix made the inside quite roomy, easily seating 4 - haven't tried 5. Seats are comfortable, although I would like more lumbar support for long trips. Passenger storage is good, but not great, although my opinion improved a lot after my wife discovered the SECOND, LARGE console storage compartment below the first little one. There are two cup holders in front and two in back that are reachable from the front, if necessary. There are also two "water bottle" sized holders in the map pockets that are usable as long as you don't need maps. I didn't like the outside appearance at first, but it's grown on me. It's a very sporty, but heavy look in my opinion. The rear and side view mirrors are plenty large, but there are blind spots I just couldn't eliminate by making adjustments. I purchased an inexpensive stick-on convex mirror for the driver's side mirror which solved my problems. There's plenty of horsepower to easily merge into traffic or accelerate out of a difficult traffic situation. I've been getting 26mpg on the highway(I do confess to a lead foot) which I found disappointing because my '99 Sienna minivan with 34 more horses only gets 2mpg less(same lead foot). The 5-speed automatic transmission works smoothly, but if you are in city traffic it wants to shift up and down way too much. If I switch the shift mode to "S" I can set an upper limit on what gear I'm in which is helpful. Cruise control works very nicely. Handling is very good. It would be great if the steering was a bit quicker and the suspension was a little stiffer. The only other complaint I have is that if I want to get a duplicate key(includes remote locking, unlocking) it would cost me over $300!!. I was able to get a duplicate (no remote capabilities) for $75 from an independent locksmith, but that's still an awful lot of money. Overall, this is an excellent car, and my wife and I are quite happy with it. I can't afford my "ideal" car, but this one comes close at a very reasonable price (not counting the duplicate key!).