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A CarParts.com Guest Road Test
by Laura Heilig
WOMAN ON WHEELS
|Category: ||$10,000 to $15,000 Economy Sedan |
|Who should buy this car: ||A person who wants a bright and happy little car that is roomy, reliable, economical and brand new for the price of a late model used car. This is a good first carfor a college student on a budget. |
|Comparable cars in this class: ||Chevrolet Metro, Daewoo Lanos, Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Kia Sephia, Mazda Proteg, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Sentra, Saturn SL, Suzuki Swift |
THE DRESS The Echo has beenmarketed as a more fun and economical alternative to the stodgy standards Toyotahas been spitting out for years. When I picked up the Echo for my week-long testdrive, I knew nothing about the car other than it was one of Toyota's newattempts at grabbing the Generation X market. Being a proud member of this agebracket, I was really looking forward to taking this car through its paces. Iwas pleased that Toyota was finally designing a more affordable car, but likemany, I have been disappointed in the past with cars fitting the mold of theEcho, so my expectations for this car were low. From the first look, however, Iknew I was going to enjoy this car.
This car has taken the success of the Jetta and the new excitement over theFord Focus and literally smooshed them together. The front resembles the Focus'headlights and slope, but is much more appealing because it is not as stretchedout. The rear end is so similar to the Jetta that when I parked it next to mycolleague's Volkswagen, the only difference we could see was the Toyota symbolon the trunk. Imitation is a form of flattery, though. The Jetta, I mean Echo,is a very stylish small car.
Whilethe Echo's body styling is not unique, its interior by far makes up for it. WhenI first sat behind the wheel to adjust my mirrors and check my gauges, myimmediate thought was that they forgot to put gauges in the car. Using my highlyacute sensory powers I finally located them high above the radio in the middleof the dashboard. To my knowledge, this is the first vehicle to challenge thelogical placement in front of the steering column. Toyota believes this locationwill reduce eye fatigue and reduce the amount of time needed to switch fromwatching the road to monitoring your speed. It takes a while to get used to thecenter console, but once you do, it is easy to buy into Toyota's reasoning. Ibelieve we will see many more cars opting for this unique change. My onlycomplaint is at night there is no illumination on the steering column and thedriver's hands, leaving it much more difficult to remove the pickles from mycheeseburger and put the straw in my milkshake while I drive.
TheEcho also has one of the largest interiors I have ever seen in an entry-levelsedan. Finally a car company has realized that tall people do like to purchaseeconomy cars and drive them without having to develop a hump! Toyota jokes onits website that this car earns its name from its cavernous interior, and Iagree. Its roomy (roomy, roomy,roomy...) interior and comfortable gray flecked upholsterymake this a terrific commuting vehicle. Five people can easily travel longdistances in the two- or four-door models of this car.
The Echo also has 13.6 cubic feet of cargo volume and split rear foldingseats to add to its spaciousness. We put this to use on a shopping spree andfound the seats easy to fold. I thought the hole created between the seats andthe trunk was a little narrow and had too much plastic surrounding the frame toaccommodate larger items. It loses a lot of its potential capacity with thisdesign, but this was one of the only disappointments I had with this car.
THEACCESSORIES The best accessory to a roomy interior is plenty ofstorage room. The Echo is blessed with a unique compartment for each and everyone of your necessary travel items. Both the passenger and driver's doors havelong deep pockets, and each seat has a pocket on its back. The passenger's seatalso has a pull-out tray beneath it, which is a perfect catch-all for commuters.My favorite storage feature on the Echo is the deep, oval-shaped pockets thatbookend the stereo. Their unique design allows for storage of a lot of compactdiscs or cassettes, unlike most cars that only have room for one or two. Runnerup in the storage class is the dual-level glove compartment. I love the deepbottom part that houses the owner's manual, and the smaller upper level isperfect for pens and other small items-even gloves!
Along with all of the above-mentioned storage space, other standard featuresinclude more comfort items such as tilt steering, AM/FM stereo and 4-wayadjustable fabric front seats. Cosmetic items like color-keyed bumpers, colordoor handles, 14-inch wheels and wheel covers come with the basic package. TheEcho also comes with dual air bags, seatbelt pretensioners, and front seatframes designed for comfort and safety.
Standard accessories on this vehicle are few, but the option packages allowfor some serious upgrading. The first upgrade package adds power steering,intermittent wipers, remote mirror control, 60/40 folding rear seat, a digitalclock, and a painted front bumper. Our car was equipped with the second optionpackage that includes air conditioning, power door locks, and a 3-in-1AM/FM/Cassette/CD audio system-all amenities I feel are well-worth the extramoney. Two other features, which are also an option on this car, are daytimerunning lights and anti-lock brakes.
THESHOES Most entry-level sedans drive like they have a rubberband underthe hood and feel like they have the stability of a playing card on a windymountain pass. The Echo, on the other hand, will surprise you with its power andsturdiness. I had the fortune of testing this car during one of the frequentwinter storms in Pennsylvania and had little problem on the snow and ice. Themanual transmission is easy to control and allows for flawless shifting.
To complement its stability, the Echo offers a powerful engine and alightweight build, greatly increasing its gas mileage without additional noiseor vibration like most entry-level sedans have. Toyota brags it will achieve anestimated 34/41 mpg with the manual transmission, which is not far off from theaverage we clocked during our week of driving. A newly designed 1.5-litertwin-cam four-cylinder engine powers this car and is efficient enough to earnthe EPA's low-emission vehicle (LEV) certification.
THEPURSE The total MSRP for the Echo's base models, including a $485destination charge, ranges from $10,480 for the manual 2-door sedan to $11, 580for the automatic 4-door. If you are planning on adding the option packages, youcan expect to add a couple thousand more. The Echo is definitely one of the fewentry-level sedans I would consider purchasing, because I think it lives up toits advertising. Generation Xers should be proud to be the reason this car wasmanufactured. I know I am.
Do you have any feedback on the Toyota Echo? Any opinions or experiencesof your own? We would love to hear from you. Clickhere to send us your comments
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|Engine Type ||1.5-liter 4-cylinder twin cam DOHC 16-Valve EFI, cast iron block with aluminum head |
|Horsepower ||108 HP @ 6000 RPM |
|Torque ||105 ft./lb. @ 4200 RPM |
|Fuel Recommended ||Regular 87 Octane Unleaded. |
|Transmission ||5-speed manual transmission standard |
(Four Speed Automatic optional)
|Tires ||P175/65R14 |
|Overall Length ||163.3 in |
|Width ||65.4 in |
|Turning Diameter ||32.2 ft. Curb to Curb |
|Curb Weight ||4-Door 5-Speed 2030, (w. Auto, 2080) 2-door is 10 lb. Less |
|Fuel Tank ||11.9 gals |
|Miles Per Gallon ||EPA city 34, hwy 41. |
|Acceleration 0 to 60 ||8.8 seconds |
| Standard Equipment |
- Aerodynamic multi-reflector halogen headlamps
- Color-keyed front and rear bumpers and door handles
- Dual black outside mirrors
- Windshield wipers with mist feature
- Tinted glass
- P175/65R14 tires on steel wheels with full wheel covers
- Center instrument cluster with speedometer, fuel gauge, digital LCD odometer with twin tripmeters and warning lights
- Dual sun visors with driver's vanity mirror
- Fabric-trimmed 4-way adjustable front seats with adjustable headrests
- Fabric-trimmed rear seat with adjustable headrests
- Tilt steering wheel
- Driver and front passenger air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
- Center console storage compartments
- Dual glove compartments
- Front passenger seat under-seat storage tray
- Dual front and rear cup holders
- Deluxe AM/FM ETR with 4 speakers
Major Available Options
- Upgrade Package #1 - Sport fender and rocker panel extensions, dual remote outside mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, digital quartz clock, 60/40 split/ fold-down rear seat and power steering
- Upgrade Package #2 - Deluxe 3-in-1 AM/FM ETR/ Cassette/CD with 6 speakers, power door locks and CFC-free air conditioning
- All-Weather Guard Package
-heavy-duty battery and rear defogger, and rear-seat
- Rear spoiler
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) -includes Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
- Power steering
- CFC-free air conditioning
- Digital quartz clock
- Power door locks
- Deluxe AM/FM ETR/Cassette with 6 speakers
- Deluxe 3-in-1 AM/FM ETR/Cassette/CD with 6 speakers
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