As we enter the halfway point for the Toyota Matrix One-Year Test, our staff has mixed emotions: It's a capable people and gear mover, and it draws looks from those on the road--especially Gen Ys.

But the abundance of squeaks, rattles, and buzzes afflicting this particular tester leaves us wondering if it was assembled on a Friday by AMC rather than Toyota.

A visit to the dealer at the 7200-mile mark determined the steering column was rubbing against the dash pad and that the buzzy exhaust heat shield is a normal Matrix characteristic. Really? While it was in the service bay, we had the 7500-mile service performed (oil and filter change, plus tire rotation) costing us $56.95. We still aren't used to the "drive it like you stole it" powerband (useable power doesn't kick in until the six-grand range on the tach), nor the Twist-O-Flex shifter.

However, we find the chassis superb; it sticks well in the corners, and the hard-surfaced cargo area is one of those "why didn't someone do this sooner" ideas.