2003 Toyota ECHO 4-Door Sedan 1.5 VVTI
Cheap, reliable, flawless!
There is a hole in the driver's side floor carpet, but that was there when I bought it, and I suspect someone tore it, as the carpet seems strong. No other upholstery wear to date.
Trunk lock cylinder was not functioning 100% when purchased; again, I think it was carelessness of the previous owner. The key still works, however you are able to turn it the wrong way and the lock cylinder will just turn with your key and not open the trunk. When turning back the right way, it will stop where it's supposed to be and not move; at that point you are able to continue and unlock the trunk.
Water pump, thermostat and coolant change at around 120,000km - however, I consider this to be part of maintenance, along with oil changes, tire rotations, and other things; it's just something that needs to be changed on every vehicle eventually.
Original Toyota battery died at 150,000km.
Have changed front and rear brakes (pads and rotors) once since it was purchased (very little wear and tear).
Still has the same summer tires from when I purchased it, and I bought a set of winter tires the same time I purchased the car, and both are still in great shape (again, VERY LITTLE wear and tear).
Rear shocks make noises from time to time. Started at about 150,000km. Still rides fine; again, the noise is only from time to time.
A/C does not work as well as it used to. However, it was fine until I took it to a bad mechanic. While installing a serpentine belt, I believe something was forced a little too much and now it doesn't work as well as it used to. However, it still works enough to keep me cool and comfortable in hot weather.
No timing belt, has a timing chain. Less maintenance = BONUS!
This car is fantastic. I've had several cars over the years, and this is by far the best one. I keep looking to upgrade because it is a 10 year old car; however, if I do purchase another one, I don't think I would sell or trade this one in. It has been with me for a while and has been amazing.
The ECHO's parts barely show any wear whatsoever in the 5 years that I've owned it.
The engine does tend to shake a bit because the engine is pretty small, but it's nothing to worry about.
The A/C and heat take a bit of time to actually heat or cool, but I've found this common with all of the Toyotas I've driven.
Performance is obviously lacking a bit. Acceleration is slow, however the car starts to move quicker once you hit about 70-80km/h and up.
Reliability is outstanding, even after having what seems like an owner that didn't take care of it. Running cost is VERY low gas/petrol & repair wise.
The only problems I see are with handling and aerodynamics.
Handling: The car is not the best (as to be expected) when cornering or driving in snowy/icy conditions. Winter tires are a MUST. If you can get a great set of winter tires, you'll never regret it. The ECHO is awful for winter driving. Low power makes it get stuck in snow quite often, and poor aerodynamics make it a bit dangerous to drive in winter when the wind is blowing.
Aerodynamics: The car is a bit high off the ground, looks skinny and is somewhat boxy; because of this the aerodynamics of this car are practically non existent. A strong wind will push your ECHO around even at low speed.
Perhaps some kind of traction control could have been helpful?
I only have a few problems with this car, however these are not enough to stop me from purchasing another in the future. And for the price they are going for nowadays, it's kinda hard not to buy another if looking for a good reliable car that will get you from point A to point B and not let you down.
This is the only family oriented vehicle I've owned, and I'm not sure how the previous driver drove it, but I drive the HECK out of it. It is just as great as the day I bought it.
The ECHO was still made in Japan and it shows. As long as you're not looking for a sports car, or a huge car, then this is an absolutely FLAWLESS vehicle.
I use fully synthetic oil and the car runs very well. The only thing I have to stress is to keep up with maintenance. If you take care of your ECHO, your ECHO will take care of you.
The only thing I can't explain is how these cars don't hold their value like all other imports. Regardless, this will work out in my favor if I buy another.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st July, 2013
I drove my 2005 Echo for eight years without a single problem. All I did was oil changes. Got stuck only once, but the conditions were so bad even winter tires would not have helped.
Echos were built to last and they did. I'd still have mine if I hadn't gotten into an accident that totalled it.
I am the original poster and just realized that I made a mistake on the cost of running. I thought a higher rating was a higher cost. I actually consider the cost of running to be extremely low. I find most parts fairly cheap and readily available.
I have been looking around like crazy for a safer car, as my wife and I are expecting, but I still wouldn't get rid of it. Comparing the cost of buying a new car vs keeping this one, has made me realize that even if the engine were to blow, I'd just have a new one installed, and have the car last another 10 years. Still much cheaper than buying a decent used car.
(Note from the site admin - the running costs issue mentioned above has now been corrected).