The best commuter EVER?
Battery replaced at 120 K.
AC compressor froze at 130 K.
Lost two spark plug wire/coil anchor bolts. I used some foam to hold the plug wires on, and never got around to fixing them.
The Echo is a great commuter car. I got about 35-40 MPG with 3/4 highway and 1/4 city driving in Phoenix. Highway speeds are about 70-75 here during rush. The 2001 was set too high in the air and handled poorly at high speeds. I installed lowering springs to fix this for about $200.
No tachometer in 2001.
The ECHO started every time but once for 5 years, as the battery finally died. The 5 speed is plenty fast if you let it wind up before shifting. I wouldn't drive an automatic 4 banger vehicle. The ECHO has an incredibly fast first 50 feet off the stop! Yeah, then the fast cars will catch up.
The engine always ran smoothly, I changed oil, replaced plugs once, air filter a few times, and changed the gear oil and coolant yearly. Other than replacing tires, I did nothing else but wash and wax and drive it.
Finally at 130,000 miles, something broke, the AC compressor froze. The final bill was $2,500. Not cheap, but the only repair costs I ever spent on the ECHO. In Phoenix we run the air about 10 months a year.
You sit high the way it's built, feels like you are driving a bigger car, headroom is ample, seats are comfy. It turns on a dime, stops just as well, and parks anywhere. The dash and interior have a lot of storage, and is well laid out with sturdy vents and knobs. The bubble like design makes for a roomy interior and big trunk with decent leg room to boot.
A quality, well built, utilitarian car. If you like, or can tolerate the looks, buy one! My son crashed mine. I didn't want spend new car money right now or I'd buy a Yaris or Scion for sure. I picked up a 1993 Toyota Paseo for my commute with 160K miles already on it and I like it almost as well as my dear ECHO.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th August, 2006