The Echo is an interesting study in human nature. Itís got the best of everything you could ask for in a small economy car. You get plenty of pep from a fuel-sipping 1.5L twincam, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder that easily posts 40 miles per gallon and always makes the top of the list of hybrid alternatives on alternative fuel websites.

Itís got a spacious interior for its size (like " />

Issue: Nov 2004


Cars Worth Noting: 2004 Toyota Echo



2004 Toyota Echo

by John Peter

The Echo is an interesting study in human nature. Itís got the best of everything you could ask for in a small economy car. You get plenty of pep from a fuel-sipping 1.5L twincam, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder that easily posts 40 miles per gallon and always makes the top of the list of hybrid alternatives on alternative fuel websites.

Itís got a spacious interior for its size (like a mini Camry), with lots of head and leg room. And, best of all, itís a Toyota. And that makes it a good, quality, dependable automobile.

But thereís something about the exterior design that people just donít find appealing.

When the Echo made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show several years ago, a random group of 15 locals were sent through the show by the local paper and asked to pick out the their favorite and least favorite cars at the show, choosing from both concept and production vehicles. While each one had a different favorite, seven of the 15 tagged the poor Echo as the worst, because it was ugly.

What is it that makes Echo ugly, while the Volkswagen Beetle is perceived as cute? Why do people fall so madly in love with the Chrysler PT Cruiser?

The Beetle is a nothing more than a speedbump with wheels, yet it did a whole slew of conquest sales for Volkswagen. And my neighborís teenage daughter has her yellow bug all decked out in fuzzy fur and pink flowers. The Cruiser looks like a London cab that mated with a 1940 Ford, but it sold a quarter of a million copies and put designer, Brian Nesbitt on the road to success as the possible heir to GMís design throne.

We love gangly puppies and smiling Dodge Neons. Even the goofy-looking AMC Pacer was so ugly it was loved by many. But the poor Toyota Echo just canít seem to move the cute needle so it remains underappreciated and unloved.


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