As close to perfect as you could ask
Nothing, the car has been perfect apart from the usual windshield wipers and tires any vehicle would require after one hundred thousand miles.
I am trying to think of bad things to say about this car, because it is nearly perfect.
Over 40 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving.
Everything still works. I have had a VW Jetta we put 250,000 miles on, but I certainly could not say everything still worked by then.
Interior room is astounding when you think about how small it looks from outside.
If you are carrying children, the four door would be a big plus unless the adults in the front have short legs.
I am 6 feet tall and I love the fact that I can drive this car with my arms out straight the way I like.
There are a great number of storage areas, though only the main glovebox and the hidden tray under the passenger seat are of any significant size.
The fold down rear seats allow surprisingly long items to be carried without leaving the trunk lid open.
The trunk is twice the size you would expect when viewing the car from outside.
This little car is fast. When you want to go, you need not shift from fourth to fifth until you hit 70 miles per hour. However, I would not spend a dime on this car with an automatic transmission. The motor is too small to lug well at low rpm if you want to move quickly. The control provided by the manual transmission makes this car fun to drive. Imagine that, 40 miles per gallon yet fun to drive.
The car is inexpensive. Nicely equipped I paid under $13,000.
The steering is so precise you think the car in the direction you want to go and it is there.
The high pressure tires and streamline shape let this car coast very well. When you are approaching a stop sign just push in the clutch and coast up.
The motor is very quiet at idle, yet has a nice sound when you get it revved up into the powerband.
The car is tight. We are only now beginning to develop one or two very minor rattles when traveling over poor roads.
It took 5 minutes to get the hang of the instrument cluster being in the center. After that I loved it. No peering through the steering wheel to see what is going on.
The seats sit much higher than cars like the Honda Civic. My friend's Honda is a nice car, but after the Echo, the Civic seats feel like placemats dropped on the floor.
The front seat headroom is astounding. An F150 pickup has no more. Back seat headroom is more typical, as the roof slopes down toward the trunk. Compared to a Honda Civic the Echo is a convertible with the top down.
I find the seats quite comfortable, but some of my friends have said the lumbar support is inadequate.
This car is a short person's dream. The seat will go forward until it nearly touches the steering wheel. The seat can be set bolt upright. The center location of the instrument cluster makes it easy for a person under five feet tall to see over the steering wheel and down the road without obstruction. The hood vanishes.
Visibility is good, in part because your seating position is higher than in any small car I've ever driven.
In just the last twenty years I've worn out two Chevrolets, two Fords, a Toyota, a Nissan, a Dodge, a Subaru and two Volkswagens, so I have a decent amount of experience with cars. I do not sell my cars, but rather drive them until they are utterly worn out. The four American cars all turned out to be junk, while all the foreign cars have run well over one hundred thousand miles, so my bias is massive. Detroit will never sell me another car, new or used. Were someone to give me an American car I'd sell it and buy a real car.
The reliability of this car amazes me, and I have driven a stable of very reliable cars. It burns no oil, has no mechanical or electrical or interior issues of any kind even well past the one hundred thousand mile mark, yet still leaves Jeep Wranglers stunned at stop lights.
This car is everything a Ford Focus is not. In other words, an outstanding value and a great car. I will be so blunt as to say anyone who buys a Focus instead of an Echo is an idiot.
A negative - the car is light and sits high, so side winds move it around on the highway.
A negative - the high pressure tires make a bit of extra noise.
A negative - no luxury. If you want power windows and door locks and remote keyless entry and twenty way adjustable seats, get out your checkbook day one and every day thereafter because you are going to spend a good deal more money.
A negative - small size. The Echo is roomy, but it cannot compare to a 1975 Chevy Impala or a Cadillac. If you want a parade float, look elsewhere.
The combination of the low purchase price, Toyota reliability, outstanding gas mileage, surprising room, and the romping engine make this car nearly perfect for anyone who is not so foolish as to be dominated by their reptilian brain.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th August, 2003