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Any experience w/Toyota Echo/Yaris/something similar? UPDATE #18

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Basically I want a car with good gas mileage, low maintenance that will last a good long time before going to pieces. Right now we have a 12 year old Ford Clunker that we want to replace. We have put so much money into that car! If going car free was a possibility I'd jump on it for a while, but living without our car this past week while it was in the garage has really shown how difficult life would be. (We live in the country).

We've heard good things about Echo's which I guess go to 2005 and then were replaced with the Yaris.

We know someone who has a 2001 Echo with over 300,000km on it and it's still going strong. I rode in it yesterday and found that it *is* a very basic car (I'm ok with that) and I'm pretty sure we couldn't do 3 car seats/boosters across the back. (Not *necessary* but nice). It's such a narrow car! I like the improvements they've made with the Yaris but they're at the top of what we'd like to spend.

We're hoping for $7000CAD TOPS but would love to spend $4500 or so. We've had this last car for 7 years so we want something that's not too old to begin with.

Any experience with an Echo or Yaris? Any suggestions for similar, dependable, low maintenance not too expensive cars?
post #2 of 20
We have a 2007 Yaris and are very happy with it. I think it feels more roomy inside than other tiny cars. I guess our only complaint is that there is very little trunk room (we have the hatchback). So very frequently "stuff" ends up needing to go in the back seat instead, because the trunk area can't hold two weeks of groceries, or all the stuff for a trip to visit the in-laws for a week. We don't have kids yet, so this isn't a problem. I think one kid would be fine. I think we would start running into problems if we had two kids though. Therefore, if I was deciding now, I'd go for the sedan, not the hatchback.

ETA: My dad had an Echo as a company car for about a year, quite awhile ago. He also liked it a lot.
post #3 of 20
I have a 2007 Yaris sedan. The trunk holds a lot of stuff. I fill up on gas every 1.5 weeks, though I don't drive a very far in general. When I use it, more often, than I fill up every week. I have less than 20,000 miles on it, after 3.5yrs., and so far have only done routine maintenance.

I love that it's small (I'm 5ft tall) but on taller people (close to 6ft or above) it is cramped. I like that it can fit into parking spaces crooked or that I can slip through small openings in the road. One of the things to get used to is that all your meters are in the middle of the dashboard, not in front of you. It took me awhile to get used to it.

I've only ever had 1 kid in the car, but from the looks of it you can definitely fit 2 car seats. I don't know if 3 will fit.
post #4 of 20
I was convinced we were going to buy a Yaris in 2008 because we were just looking for a commuter car for dh but ultimately bought a Corolla. My dh is 6'2" and no one would have been able to sit behind him - ever. We had three almost teenagers at the time and we keep our cars for 10+ years so we knew it wasn't going to work long term. He would never be able to use it for work with 4 adults either. The Corolla wasn't that much more to get just a ton more space. My 3 can fit across the back, even now and they are 5'10, 5'6" and 5'2, even with dh and I (5'6") in the front.
post #5 of 20
We were looking at the Toyota yaris or echo to replace our 1995 Toyota tercel with 260,000 miles. I loved my Toyota. However, after a lot of pricing, test driving, and shopping, we bought a Hyundai Accent. A 2008 with less then 18,000 miles was the same price as 2005 Toyota Yaris with 68,000 and our interest rate was much lower (3% versus 8.8%). I love the gas mileage 35MPG and the extras (air conditioning, tilt steering, side air bags, XM radio). It is a small car, but we only have one kid and two small dogs. We can fit three backless boosters in the back seat, it is tight though.
post #6 of 20
I hated the way the Yaris handled when getting up to highway speeds. Literally felt like a bucking horse. I'm also pretty short (5'3) and sitting in the back of the yaris, I felt cramped, like my head had to lean into the middle seat type of cramped.

I got the Honda Fit instead. Much roomier, and the base model handles TONS better. Very responsive. And the mileage seems to be similar between the two. If need be, I'm sure with the right type of carseats, 3 can fit across. Ds is in a FF radian, and the new baby will be in a Graco infantseat, so it will be a bit tight, but doable.

post #7 of 20
We went with the Honda Fit and I couldn't be happier. We average 38/miles to the gallon. And the best part is my Radian 80 XT ca seat can be rear-facing behind the passenger seat and my 6'0 220 hubby can sit comfortably in the passenger seat. I know the Fit is a little more expensive than the Yaris, but it has been totally worth it for us, plus with all of the issues Toyota has been having recently I was so glad that we didn't buy one.
post #8 of 20
Originally Posted by goldingoddess View Post
We went with the Honda Fit and I couldn't be happier. We average 38/miles to the gallon. And the best part is my Radian 80 XT ca seat can be rear-facing behind the passenger seat and my 6'0 220 hubby can sit comfortably in the passenger seat. I know the Fit is a little more expensive than the Yaris, but it has been totally worth it for us, plus with all of the issues Toyota has been having recently I was so glad that we didn't buy one.
We almost bought a Fit! It's a great little car, a lot of fun! And yes, a lot of space. DH's cousin is a cyclist and has one because he can fit two bikes in it!

We ended up getting an Insight, though.
post #9 of 20
LOL @ this thread, OP. You want a tiny car and I want a huge one... somewhere there's a car out there for us!

I really like the Yaris! If it was just single ol' me, that's what I'd get right now.

P.S. I wouldn't get a Fit, though. DH had one and it was like riding in a shoebox; I thought it handled very poorly.
post #10 of 20
We had an Echo for a few years. We are big fans of Toyota.

It seems that the Echo may have had a certain problem that caused random stalling. We had this happen. Up until that happened we were thrilled with it. (Well, it was a little tight with a baby in the backseat but anyway). We took it to 3 mechanics and none of them had a clue. (Including one Toyota place, but that particular shop was staffed with idiots).

We didn't know what to do, so finally we decided to dump it and get another car. We researched the hell out of cars and selected the Pontiac Vibe (which is obviously a larger car, but we were happy with that since we had a family now). We found a used Vibe that looked good and a nice price about an hour and 15 minutes away from us. We drove there to look at it and the Echo died in the parking lot. It DIED. IN THE DEALER'S LOT. Suddenly, what we hoped to get maybe $3k for was worth $300 in scrap metal. (We ultimately got $500, but my DH pushed hard on that).

But - it was a 2000 model. I have no knowledge of the 2005 model or the Yaris.

The irony is, now that we have the Vibe (which we LOVE, it's been absolutely perfect in every way) there is a rumor out that they might do a recall. Because of the Toyota engine in it. Which may have a stalling issue. SIGH.

I think I really like the old Toyota, but I think the company has really changed in the last decade, for the worse.
post #11 of 20
I have a 2008 Yaris, hatchback. I love it! It gets good gas mileage, and I love having a little tiny car to zip around town in. I don't often take the highway, although I find it perfectly fine there. It has great visibility, which is nice. It is also very basic, as in the one I have has no power door locks, manual window openers, etc but I don't find it a big deal. The price was right! I've only had it for about 2 1/2 years but I have not had to do anything with it besides the regular oil change/tire rotations. BTW, I would not recommend a hatchback though if you need to be getting young kids in and out of the car frequently. This past year I nannied for a family with 2 kids in carseats, who had to be dropped off/picked up at preschool 2x a day. Total PITA to have to do that, but that's the deal with any hatchback I guess.
Good luck car shopping
post #12 of 20
DH and I have a 2000 Echo. And two babies in the back. It is cozy, to say the least. But it has never ever broken down, is easy and cheap to maintain, and gets 40 miles a gallon. It has been extremely economical, which is why we drive it.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
I/we have only had 2 cars ever. The first car wasn't bad but it had some issues and when we were told there'd be a "big" repair bill (at that point I didn't know what big was!) we decided to buy another car. Didn't do any research and it bit us in the butt. We've had our current car for 7 years and I'm sure over the years we've put as much into it on repairs as the original price.

I so don't want to go down that road again, hence the research and asking everyone we know.

DH gets a ride to work in an Echo, plus there are 6-8 other people with Echos at his shop. They've all said good things about it, that's why we're looking at it.

DH carpools and I SAH so mainly I see us using the car mostly for:
  • shopping/errands
  • the odd day DH's ride doesn't show up
  • driving my sister and her 2 kids around occasionally (without DH)
  • visiting family 30-60km away now and then

We would eventually have kids and I was feeling nervous about not fitting 3 across in the backseat (even if I have one plus sister's two) but DH would be willing to sell it if that becomes a problem down the road seeing resale price seems to stay up there. Plus, on the kid issue, if I have to take my sister somewhere, we can do that while her kids are in daycare while mine fit in the backseat.

So, we will look at:
  • Echo
  • Yaris
  • Corolla
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Honda Fit -I'll check it out, but they're all hatchbacks? not sure about that

Must have 4 doors, no hatchback. Next on the list will be taking these for a test drive to really see the type of car then I'll keep an eye on the classifieds online (huge site!) for a great deal. Thanks!
post #14 of 20
Dh had an '08 yaris (that we only kept for a year before we ended up selling it since it was the one not paid off and we needed to buy a van). He LOOOOOOOOOVED it. Got great gas mileage. He had the 2D hatch back, but fyi, it had practically no trunk. He used it as a commuter car.

ETA... it wasn't a big deal having two carseats in there, but I can't see getting 3 across. Also the rear seat (again, this was the hatch back) was very close to the outside of the car - that is, the trunk was less than a foot... which made me nervous in the case of being rear-ended with kids in the back. My mom's husband has the 4D, but I can't speak to it's use because he only uses it for commuting and going golfing, so apparently the trunk is big enough for a golf bag (the hatchback trunk wasn't, Dh had to put the rear seats down to get his golf bag in), but I don't know about how well it'd work as a family car. It's really shocking how much adding a baby adds to the amount of junk you need.

Another little car that's great, though, if you're interested is the Toyota Matrix. We have a Pontiac Vibe (which is the same thing inside, just the outside is pontiac), and we LOOOOOOOOVE it. We could definitely get three across, the mileage is very good, despite being AWD (we get about 28 or 30 in town), and the trunk is a bit bigger. It was a very functional car for our family of 4 and we toyed with keeping it as our family car and just getting a roof rack for travel, but ultimately ended up moving up to a sienna, which we've also been very happy with. Dh now drives the Vibe.
post #15 of 20
We have a Mazda3 sedan (2007). You can get a slightly older one for your budget. We LOVE it. Nothing has gone wrong with it and it's a very nice car to drive. Still feels very new. V roomy trunk and you can RF kids in the back seat even with v tall drivers. Huge glove box and lots of front leg room.
post #16 of 20
We love our Honda Fit. The seats fold completely into the floor, which is nice for transporting things. I can't imagine 3 carseats across, but we have Marathons, so I'm not even sure what narrow seats look like.

I think they are all hatchbacks. We have a little rolling screen thing that you can pull down so no one walking by can see what is in there, and so that things wouldn't fly all over the place in a crash.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
So I test drove an Echo today and didn't mind it. Overall it felt fine and once I'm used to it I think it would be great.

Test drove a Yaris and hated it (personal preference). I'm sure it didn't help that the person who had it didn't really take care of it *and* it was still pricey. I didn't like the tiny gas pedal that felt squished against the centre console and I didn't like the way the seat 'hugged' you. (Felt claustrophobic!) I suppose it didn't help that the seat should have been tilted back and just wouldn't move. (Broken?)

Corollas seem to be above our price range.

Looks like we're just waiting for the right Echo to come along (the one I test drove was at the high end of our price range and we saw cheaper ones online).
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

I thought I'd update this old thread! We bought our Echo a week or two after my previous post (last September) and I have to say I'm still in love with it! 


  • I didn't find a HUGE savings in gas because we already had a fairly fuel efficient car to begin with. 
  • One thing I had to get used to (but love!) is that the front seat is more upright. I feel like I can see better when driving vs the type of car where it feels like you're laying back. 
  • We live on a dirt road so we bought some good snow and ice winter tires and found the car handled well all winter long. 
  • A bonus: the car we ended up with had a remote starter installed. Pure heaven on a cold winter day!
  • I had mentioned before that the Echo I had ridden in seemed very basic and rattled a lot. Ours (a 2004) feels fine, maybe a step up in quality from the 2001 or maybe it was just the difference in age that did it. 
  • As for the size, I have driven my sister and her kids around many times. She has a 4.5 year old in a booster and a 4mth old in a bucket carseat (can't remember brand). The baby sits behind my sister and she has room in the front seat but every time DH gets into the car he has to move the seat back. Not sure how he'd fit with a baby behind him! If I was choosing a bucket seat I would pick one that's a bit smaller. 
  • I did some research and had found some people on carseat.org were able to fit 3 across but I don't see it happening. Not without a lot of trial and error and the right sized kids at a specific age to puzzle everyone all in together. 
  • Oh, I've also hauled some lumber in it (not too much!) with the trunk open/tied down and a flag hanging off. 


For a tiny little car, it's not bad! Half a year later, I still say to DH once a week "I'm so glad we bought this car!" Best of all, we've had no repairs on it *knock on wood* unlike the old car where we were spending hundreds on it every couple of months. 

post #19 of 20

We had a 2007 Yaris that we had purchsed new in the fall of 2006 and just sold it this past fall (2010). I ADORED that car. Maybe because it was small like me (5'2") but even my 6'3" husband found it comfortable to drive. The only reason I had to sell it was that it was not very practical in rural minnesota for someone who gets called out at hours before the snow plows have been out. Last year I got stuck in a snow drift on the road on my way to a birth and so I really needed something with a higher clearance and 4 wheel drive. We sold it and got an old subaru. Now that the weather is warming up again, I miss getting 39 mpg in my tiny blue car!

post #20 of 20

Just wanted to say, we test drove a 2009 yaris four door hatchback and we were able to get three carseats: graco backless booster, graco safe seat without the base, and a britax roundabout with no real issue in the back :)



We will be purchasing one soon, our plan at the moment is to have our six year old sit in the front (with the airbags OFF) for the mile trip to and from school, the other kids sit in the back. When taking longer trips (anywhere but school) we will put all three in the back.


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