The 2012 Matrix has earned respectable safety ratings, with top 'good' ratings from the IIHS in frontal and side impact (the related Corolla sedan is a Top Safety Pick). The Matrix hasn't been rated by the federal government, in its heavily revised NCAP testing program.
Like nearly all other vehicles in this class, front side and side-curtain airbags are included, as are anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
Some of us don't have much rearward visibility in the Matrix (it depends on your seating position), as the rather narrow window openings in back allow a pretty narrow aperture. Consider that on your test drive.