This weeks, new to the market, Toyota Echo is surely among the basic cars of the world. Many folks I chanced to talk with about the car felt it was ugly, “… too tall, too narrow and a bit awkward looking”. I would argue that our society is inclined to form over substance. How it looks is more important than how well it functions. One must remember these are people from Los Angeles home to Hollywood and Disneyland where everything is a set or prop. “Tinsel Town” where nothing is quite what it appears to be.
This Echo (EchoNomical to me) on the other hand, comes from the very practical people of Japan, where they live “It’s a small world, after all”. Yes, everything is small there. It’s an island, the streets are small, and the people are small so the cars are best built small. Some things are big, however, like prices for gas, food and housing which are all bigger than life. No wonder their leaders resist being westernized. They were likely educated in the US and must feel “Been there, done that”. I agree and I too love Japan.
In any case this Echo adds to a pretty good field of economical cars noted below, the most price competitive of which are all American. The Neon’s, Metro and Saturn are the best of the bunch, in my opinion. The Japanese flock is pricier and the “used to be economical car” the VW got to big for it’s britches and wants to be a BMW, now that it has grown up. This Echo is basic for sure but it is after all, from the family of Toyota. We’ve come to expect well-built economical cars from the Japanese.
Our Love Affair with the automobile is especially true in California where public transportation was discouraged by the auto, tire and oil companies in the 1940’s. Gas was almost given away in the early days but now that they have us hooked, gas prices are sure to continue to go up. Profits and greed and all that rot, you know. But the truth is gas prices don’t have to go up and the government owes the driving public a duty to provide low cost fuel. We have the largest oil reserves in the world even though some folks would like you to believe the Middle East is the cause of our rising gas prices. Consider the recent oil find in Alaska, which by some estimates is equal to 30 years of Middle East oil. So who’s kidding whom?
I spoke with the attorney next door and he asked if I felt safe in this Echo. Unequivocally the answer is, yes. He drives a Corvette and also owns a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’d hire him but his rates have to be higher just to cover gas. I suggested that until the industries manipulation of the public is exposed fully, he should trade down and get up to 42 mpg. He wouldn’t look as cool but his stress level would also go down.
Handling & Performance:
Pleasantly surprised. Not as good as the Corvette, but it actually is a pretty impressive car to drive for the dough. The engine is quite responsive for being so economical. I rather enjoyed driving it.
Styling: Yuk, relative to the others, with the exception of the Ford Focus.
Fit and Finish:
Among the best of Echo – Nomical cars.
Conveniences: Not many, but if you pop for another three grand or so you can have air conditioning, antilock brakes, upgraded radio, power steering and power door locks. The only thing I’d want to add would be the air.
Cost: Not bad, but more than the American competitors.
These cars are great for young families, older folks on fixed incomes and students with no visible means of support at all. I lean toward the American made cars that give the greatest bang for the buck. Chuck the yuppie car, look at this Echo and its competitors. You can fight rising gas prices and with all the money you’ll save you can send the kids to college, take that trip to wherever or pay for your own college education. I wish my kids would take my advice.
Chevrolet Metro $9,235-10,660, Dodge and Plymouth Neon’s $12,640, Ford Focus $12,055-15,475, Honda Civic $10,750-17,545, Nissan Sentra $11,649-14,899, Saturn SL $10,685-12,895.
Economical because of great gas mileage and Toyota quality history means it should be inexpensive to maintain.
Not a lot of creature comforts, ugly by some critics.
1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed auto trans, front disc, rear drum brakes, dual air bags, tilt wheel, AM/FM radio. In other word, very basic.
31 City and 38 Highway MPG.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is email@example.com.
Copyright ©1998 – Automotive Love Affair