Test Drive: 2004 Toyota Echo Hatchback — Autos.ca

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Toyota Echo hatchback

October 7, 2003

Even the Echo sedan set new standards for space in a subcompact car market it was introduced for 2000, I’ve been a fan of its awkward styling. The comes because the trunk was added to the overseas market hatchback’s body to become the sedan for the North American

2004 Toyota Echo LE hatchback

2004 Toyota RS 5-door hatchback

Click to enlarge

Echo LE is available in three- and five-door configurations and $14,600, respectively), and adds a stereo, rear wiper and steering to the CE, plus power and rear floor mats on versions.

Those who are into would be best served to in the RS model, available only as a $16,300 for this model front sport seats, steering wheel and shift alloy wheels, rear and side skirts.

A four-speed transmission is available as an option on all

Toyota is offering a slew of performance and appearance accessories to to the tuner crowd. These larger alloy wheels, options like an MP3 player and a interior accent kits, exhaust, sport pedals, and

My test example was a three-door CE with CD player and air conditioning for a as-tested price of $14,660.

#038; Bolts

All Echo are powered by a double overhead cam that displaces 1.5 litres, 108 hp at 6,000 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at revs. That may not seem a lot of power, but keep in mind the weight of the Echo: a mere 944 kg lb.) Mated to a slick-shifting stick, power is transferred the front wheels and 175/65-14 to the road.

Brakes are of the front drum variety, and as I noted, is standard. Bravo! The front of the car is by MacPherson struts with springs and a stabilizer bar. In a torsion beam axle and springs keep the rubber on the

Predictably, steering duties are by a rack-and-pinion arrangement, and power is standard on all hatch models the CE.

Inside and Out

RS interior shown. image to enlarge

The hatch of Toyota’s thrifty and practical transforms the odd-looking econobox a fun and funky people mover. distinctive are the extremely short tall cabin, and vertical hatch. Similar to the Mini the Echo’s body hardly beyond its rear tires. it is fresh, though, it does to look humble in base The RS certainly scores higher in coolness.

The Echo is just as inside as out. Typical of since their introduction, the pod is centrally located atop the This, claims Toyota, the driver to scan vital without looking away the road. I’m not convinced that the best place for the gauges, but a couple of days I was accustomed to it and it was no an issue. But here’s an issue: the tachometer?

The Echo seats four in comfort. The front seats in are attractive looking and more than anyone has a right to in a car at this price point. And in back is impressive too, the Echo’s minuscule exterior

Cargo capacity, however, when the rear seatbacks are up. The volume measures just 204 enough for a couple of duffel or maybe a golf bag. For the of comparison, the Mini Cooper to swallow just 150 litres of behind its rear seat, but the conventionally shaped Hyundai will accommodate 479 litres of stuff without folding the down.

The Driving Experience

images to enlarge

The Echo to be a fun little runabout in both and highway environments. I normally my expectations when evaluating a with a Toyota badge on the and despite these high the Little Echo that did not disappoint.

The engine is a smooth, refined that enjoys revving at the of some low-end grunt. why the lack of a tachometer is particularly in the Echo: noise and vibration are controlled, making finding the shift point a more task.

The shifter is a slick that would embarrass the in many more expensive And there’s simply no comparing its action with anything in the sub-$20K realm, save the Honda Civic. Likewise the its travel is short and engagement close to the floor, which for easy and fun driving once

Steering response is much than anticipated given the skinny 65-series rubber, speaks volumes about the that went into the

Toyota Echo hatchback

And try to find another car in its class would elicit as many of approval as my Echo tested did in its with me – particularly from who saw its rear end first.

Sure, the Echo’s tall, physique gets tossed a bit in cross winds, and it could do with another 20 or so horsepower, but keep things in perspective: is a $15,000 car.

In the week I had the I spent almost nothing on City and Highway fuel ratings for the Echo hatch are 6.7 and 5.2 per 100 kilometres, respectively, putting it way of competitors like the Hyundai and Kia Rio.

To Sum It Up

The Echo hatch is the car allows Japan to reclaim its at the head of the hatchback class, a that was lost when the Civic hatchback left our in 2000. It’s a stylish, fun to runabout that wears an price tag. And given reputation for resale and reliability, the excellent fuel economy for the Echo, the cost of ownership is to please as well.

Shopping Around

There many cars that for around $15,000 these so the list of competitors is short:

Cavalier VL ($15,485)

Dodge SX 2.0

Hyundai Accent GL ($13,795)

Kia Rio S

Pontiac Sunfire SL ($15,485)

Aveo ($13,480)

Suzuki ($ NA)

Toyota Echo hatchback

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