Any advice on buying a 2001 Toyota Echo?

I’m interested in buying a 2001 Toyota Echo through a private seller. I’m not familiar with the car (and just learned today that the Yaris is the same thing as the Echo).

Has anyone out there owned an Echo? Worked on one? Does anyone have advice, encouragement, or warnings for me?


I just sold a 2000 Echo - my wife bought it new and I used it as a commuter car for about five years. It had 167,000 miles on it and was still running strongly - I had no reservations about selling it to a friend who needed a second vehicle for errands and a short commute.

While I never liked the car very much, this was admittedly a matter of personal preference - the car required little maintenance and always got good gas mileage. The last major repair was a clutch job - the original clutch lasted until 130,000 miles.

If you really want an Echo, I don’t personally see anything to warn you away from the car.

The standard advice when buying a used car is to get it checked out thoroughly by a good mechanic.

Thanks, Mr. Moto. Exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for!

Dewey Finn, I’ll definitely get it checked out before I commit to anything - I was just looking for some personal experience stories.

Should add - lots of people don’t like the center-mounted speedometer. I never minded that, personally, but it is a design feature that spawned considerable debate.

I’m chuckling, remembering the couple of times on long night drives that I’ve glanced in front of me to check my speed and thought “Oh, the speedometer light must be out.” Then I glance to the right and notice it. D’oh.

We’ve had our Echo for years. Love it. Excellent mileage (got 49+ mpg on one all-highway-miles trip, but never hit 50…). It’s noisy on the road, but anything that size is.

Only downside: rear-ended a big truck and the front crumpled like a beer can. And not a cool microbrew in a funky retro can. I’m talking Bud Lite, at best.

But well-designed: all the damage was confined to the bumper and hood.

Ours has manual everything (it is so fun to watch the kids’ friends try to find the switch for the window and eventually try --tentatively-- turning the handle). But the manual transmission is peppy! And those clueless friends can’t borrow it.

Let us know if you buy it!

I bought it! We drove it last night, and it’s in beautiful condition - it looks like new, and the owner (previous owner, I should say!) provided detailed notes of all work done to the car during its lifetime.

The mechanic approved; the VIN history is perfect; and after factory, the owner had installed a security system and remote starter (handy if next year’s Pittsburgh winter is anything like this year’s!). Even so, I got it for about $400 less than Kelley Blue Book value.

During the drive, I liked the center-mounted speedometer. I can see that it’ll take some getting used to, but it’s cool.

Thanks - these two endorsements helped a lot!

No, the Yaris is not the same thing as an Echo. There are many similarities, but they are not the same car.


I have a 2002 Echo and I LOVE that car! Absolutely fantastic gas mileage, no troubles so far. It handles well on mountain roads when we visit the in-laws. Of my two vehicles it handles icy roads much better than my truck. Enormous trunk. Originally bought as a commuting and local errand car it also takes long trips very well. No major maintenance issues.

“Defects”: A little cramped in the back for full size adults. The air conditioning is a bit weak (the dealer warned us about that prior to purchase, though, so I never got upset about it). As mentioned by a previous poster on the highway there is road noise. Not a lot of ground clearance, which can be a problem in heavy snow (may not be a problem for you).

Keep up with maintenance and it should serve you faithfully a long, long time.

That is really excellent information to have.


Wow! Less than blue book? Around here I’ve had offers for equal or more than I paid for mine at times (yes, some people really like this car - the gas mileage alone can make it worthwhile if that’s a priority for you).

Funny, that aspect never bothered me. People really vary on how they respond to that center-mounting.

And now you have a third…

Seriously - I’d buy another in a heartbeat. I have a friend who is actively looking for one just on the gas mileage alone (no! You can’t have mine!) I think they are underappreciated.

I’m glad you like your car and have joined the legions of small car Toyota owners! I have a 2006 Scion Xa, and while the car isn’t exactly the same as the Echo, I do have your engine in my car, along with the center-mounted speedo/tachometer, etc.

I regularly get 40mpg with a manual shift and a leaden foot.

Just as an illustration of how things have evolved, the Echo was replaced with a 2011 Sonata with a six-speed manual transmission.

I know they aren’t comparable cars - the Sonata is much bigger and much more powerful. But I haven’t sacrificed much on mileage - I’m getting about 32 mpg on my daily commute. That’s about 4 mpg less than the Echo, and not bad.

Hmm. I read that when it was the Echo in the U.S., it was the Yaris in Europe, and Toyota just decided to keep one name. I don’t remember where I read that, though, and it may be wrong.

The car to be replaced by the Echo is a Hyundai Accent, so I’m used to low clearance and noise! I do love my Hyundai and fully expected to buy a new one soon, but this deal came along and seemed too good to pass up.

The CD player skips (according to the seller - I didn’t think to bring a CD to the test-drive, and thankfully he was honest when I asked), and I mentioned that repair/replacement costs would likely make up the difference between my offer and KBB value. I’ve never had a CD player in my car, and I certainly don’t need one, but if I have one, it should work.

Thanks for the three endorsements. I’ll update when I’ve been driving it for a bit.

Oh, yeah, you like it now… but wait til the Significant Other in the passenger seat says “Watch your speed.” And you say “I’m just a little over the limit.”

And they say “You’re driving 76 3/4 mph… slow down.”

Seriously, congrats! Glad we could be part of a rare Practical, Kind, Helpful Thread on the SDMB.

I realize that this is basically a “me too!” post, but yeah I love my 2004 Echo to bits. It just passed the 180,000 km mark a few weeks ago, and we’ve had no trouble. It’s been from Southern California to Northern Manitoba with no problems.
My only complaint is that the heater is a little anemic. (but then again, I’m sure the designers never had -45 in mind). That said, my husband wasn’t able to plug it in over night on a trip through northern Saskatchewan (the aforementioned -45 weather) and that sucker started right up in the morning. All hail the mighty Echo! :slight_smile:

“Me, too!” posts are more than welcome. I was worried that I’d get a last-minute, “For the love of God, do not buy a Toyota Echo! Worst car I ever owned!”

I’m leaving in about five minutes to get the title and plates; I already have insurance; I have cash in hand.

Lest that eleventh-hour post come through, I’m logging off the 'Dope now.

Um… actually I usually get 40-42 mpg on my Echo in city driving, and up to 50 mpg on the open highway. That’s more than 4 mpg more than 32 mpg.

(Automatic transmission, use of cruise control, minimal accessories for the engine to run, just for the record)

You are clearly happy, and it looks like you got a good deal, but Kelly Blue Book is more or less useless. NADA or

I’d never even used Edmunds, but you’re right - there is a big difference in the recommended price. Is it commonly known that this site is a better resource than Kelley’s?

And now I’ve OVERPAID by $35! But neither program could know about the options added after factory, so I’m good.

Thanks for the info - I’ll spread the word.

Yes, it’s only used by dudes who want to convince you that price they are giving/offering you is higher/lower that the “blue book” value of a car. Insurance adjustors and car lots use it to show your car ain’t worth crap, then they pull a different “blue book” out to show you that their piece of crap is worth a lot. There are two blue books, with different price, one high and one low.:eek: Really. Sure, they are meant to be like what Edmunds shows as “Trade in” “Private Party” and “Dealer Retail” but they aren’t labeled clearly. Thus when they want to show you a lowball price, they show you the equiv of “Trade in” and for a high price they show you the equiv of Dealer Retail. :mad: The difference can be thousands of dollars. Except that their prices are even lower and higher, usually.

My Bro, who used to be a IRS agent said that his office (especially the Revenue Officers, Collections) used NADA, and considered the Blue Book to be worthless.

So, my fellow SDMBers, when someone whips out a “blue book”, you search Edmunds and show them their blue book is crap. This can be critical when your car is totaled and the adjuster wants to lowball you, liek when it’s the other dude’s insurance or when you went for a cheapo company, like Geico.

I don’t think you got a bad deal, nonetheless.:cool: Just FYI.

This one probably should have been moved earlier to IMHO, as the OP is really looking for informed opinions, as opposed to the answer to a General Question.

samclem Moderator, General Questions

I actually wondered where to put the OP, thinking, “Well, I’m asking a General Question in the hopes that I’ll hear somebody else’s Humble Opinion.”