MODEL: 2000 to 2005 Toyota Echo
VEHICLE TYPE: Subcompact /Economy

HISTORY/DESCRIPTION: Replaced by the Yaris in 2006, the Toyota Echo enjoyed a successful life and furthered Toyota’s reputation for economical and reliable small cars.

Depending on the year in question, shoppers will find two-door, four-door or hatchback models available. Echo was a good way for a variety of drivers to get around without breaking the bank.

That’s mainly thanks to its tiny 1.5 litre engine with a touch over 100 horsepower. Gas mileage is very miserly, and those solely using Echo as a second car will likely visit the gas station very infrequently. A CD player was standard, as were 14-inch wheels and tilt steering.

A four-speed automatic or five-speed stick was available, and all models were front wheel drive. Driven moderately, Echo should achieve average fuel economy around 6L / 100km.

Opt for one of the hatchback models where possible. They’re arguably sportier looking as well as more useful for a wide variety of tasks.

WHAT OWNERS LIKE: Fuel economy, Toyota’s reputation and the Echo’s funky styling were typically rated as the biggest draw to the Echo. Echo’s plentiful storage compartments and relatively tall, commanding driving position were also appreciated. Entry and exit are reportedly easy, too.

WHAT OWNERS HATE: Some owners aren’t in love with the Echo’s cycloptic, centre-mounted instrument cluster, and many report that its less-than-stable to drive in heavy winds on the highway.

COMMON ISSUES: Run the climate control system through all fan speeds, temperature settings and outlets-- ensuring the temperature selector actually changes the temperature of the air and that the knob moves freely and without undue resistance. If that’s not the case, a replacement temperature control mechanism is required.

Note the gear shifting on any model with an automatic transmission, as well as the clutch feel on vehicles with a manual. Any clutch slippage or rough operation from an automatic gearbox should be investigated.

Inspect the condition of the paint, noting any rust that may be forming. Tires and brakes should also be inspected to ensure the former owner isn’t trying to sell you a brake job or worn-out set of tires.

Note that Echo was subjected to a list of recalls to correct issues with the braking system. These recalls addressed possibly faulty vacuum lines and seals in the braking system, and they should be addressed if they haven’t been already. Another recall dealt with the potential for snow and ice to build up in the rear wheels, which could damage brake lines.

Make sure these free but important safety-related recall items were performed to the vehicle you’re considering. Ask the vehicles former owner, or take its VIN number to your nearest Toyota dealership to be sure.

THE VERDICT: Find a good deal on a well maintained Echo, and you’re likely in for an inexpensive and worry-free driving experience for years to come. Just be sure the important recall work has been completed.

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