A 2003 Matrix XRS 6 spd was my first ever Toyota. It's stylish, seats are comfortable, interior is roomy & very versatile. Good head room; easy to climb in/out. Good front & back leg room. Good gas mileage, 28/35. Timing chain vs timing belt. Fun to drive & responsive, but car leans slightly on curves; does not feel solidly grounded.
Driver can't stretch out left leg b/c of the foot rest; very uncomfortable for long trips. My husband complains about this. Dislike harsh red dash lights. Reverse next to 1st gear is a bad design; have had reverse warning bell chime in 1st gear believing reverse had been fully engaged. Also, 1st gear is geared too high, driver must press slightly on 'touchy' accelerator to go forward, otherwise car dies.
Rubber trim around doors are thin & most doors have tears in rubber. Faux silver paint on back door driver side handle - is peeling off. No kids to blame for either problem.
At 83K miles I had to replace B1S1 Oxygen sensor. Shortly thereafter, found out left inner & outer boots leak & needed replacing. At 115K miles - tensioner (to serpentine belt) needed replacing.
Have had to replace clutch 2xs. Once at 63K & again at 112K miles @ around $900 a pop. Including original clutch - this is #3. (In comparison, I sold my Honda Civic w/205K miles on the original clutch.)
My on board computer failed at 117K miles and cost over $1200 to replace. (The 2003 Matrix computers were not included in the "improperly manufactured" 2005-2008 Corolla Matrix recall announced earlier this year.) At 119K the the engine lite came on & computer pointed to a bad catalytic converter. Dealer charge for parts, labor & tax --> $1700.00. OUCH!
Hope this helped someone."
"Two plus years ago, I was looking for a dependable vehicle that would give me 30 mpg. Moving from a Q45, it was definitely a transition--but one I have never regretted. Yes, I would like it to be a little taller, like the new RAV4. But this vehicle is a great package at a great price. I've been able to put four adults in with enough headroom to wear hats. And I can still see the look on that guy who was driving an Expedition when he asked me if I had really just taken a washer AND a dryer out of my vehicle at the Salvation Army! I do plenty of driving and I have gone 6 hours straight without a backache. Many reviews talk about it being under-powered. It can be if you leave it in overdrive. But if you need more, take it out of that gear, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the power and ability to climb and accelerate. I still get 30 mpg doing this and shift in and out of overdrive for acceleration and braking. The trans is fantastic, especially at higher speeds. While normal mileage is at 40,000 for 2 1/2 years, I now have 57,000 and not a problem or reason to dislike my choice. Just the opposite- I think it was the perfect one and with the Michelin Pilots, I can maneuver as well as the Q45 and feel just as safe. The only item not resolved is a movement 'click' in the driver's seat which the dealer said is normal."
Cons: "sometimes we wish the car had a few more horsepowe"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car brand new, I remember everybody used to ask me what kind of car it was because there were so few at the time. for 260, 000 miles, all I've done is change the oil every seven thousand miles a couple of sets of tires and a couple of tune ups. this car has never given us any problems. we've raised one child and a 150 pound Bernese Mountain Dog in this car and it is held up just fine. we originally bought this car for its high crash test ratings. we have decided to keep this car forever although we are going to get a new car soon. if you can find one in good shape and well taken care of by it would be a good car for college student as the interior has tons of space.I am 6 foot 2 and I fit in it just fine."
"I am older and find the seats to lack lumbar support and could use extra padding. They are comfortable enough for daily driving. As a commuter vehicle it is great. Fast pickup in the city. Great gas milage. No mechanical problems to date. For ecomomy it can not be beat."