...and that statement is not "I am cheap." It's "I am a smart shopper."
I've only owned this car for a little while. Nothing has gone wrong with it aside from a few things that were fixed by the dealership at the time of purchase. These include:
*Rear defroster repaired.
*Antenna lubed (it was stuck in the retracted position).
*Plastic grille on front of the car was snapped back into position.
*A small plastic piece of trim was re-attached.
The ECHO is great for singles, college kids, or people who just want a good, solid compact car and can pass on the frills. When I pay for a car, I like to think my money is going toward the manufacturing of a reliable vehicle... not into a light-up cup holder or musical ash tray. On the other hand, there are a couple of things that are not standard on the ECHO that I would have liked to have, such as anti-lock brakes.
The ECHO handles responsively, turns tightly, and drives well in rain, snow, etc. It does lean a bit in strong winds. Otherwise, you really don't feel as if you're driving a small, lightweight car. The interior is extremely roomy and the driver sits high. But again, you'll feel how light the car is when you go to pop the hood or roll down the window. My Pontiac required the strength of 20 men to pop the hood... not so with the ECHO.
I can't really comment on reliability yet, since I've only had the car for 2 months. But judging from other reviews and ratings, I expect few problems.
A lot has been said about the ECHO's peculiar stylings. Although my last car was sleek, I was ready for a change. I've always been a fan of the slightly un-glamorous appearance of certain cars, like Volkswagens. At any rate, I'll take my quirky-looking ECHO over an unreliable sports car with poor fuel economy any day.