If world-renowned automaker Toyota could ever be said to have had an “oops” moment, the Toyota Echo is probably it. Not that the car didn’t inherit Toyota’s legendary reliability and resell value, it’s just that the Echo was designed as a low-end vehicle to hopefully bring the younger generation of car buyers, who were searching for economy more than anything else, into the Toyota family.
The Toyota Echo was introduced to replace the Toyota Tercel and wound up being a precursor to the Toyota Scion. The vehicle was introduced in 2000 and lasted a six short model years with the last one rolling off of the assembly line in 2005. One of the unfortunate features of the vehicle’s design that contributed to its short life was that many features which were coming to be considered basic in an automobile were sold as options in the Echo, such as CD player, power steering, and power windows or doors.
- Standard features on all model years:
- Bucket Seats
- Power Brakes
- 1.5 l4 DHOC 16V Fl Engine
- Driver & Passenger Front Airbags
- Remote Trunk Release
- AM/FM Audio System
- Tinted Glass
- 14 Inch Wheels
- Tilt Steering
- 5-Speed Manual Transmission
- 2000 – The first Echo model was as basic as they come for a vehicle. Rolling off the lot with a tiny 108hp engine that managed to give the vehicle decent acceleration and pep thanks only to the low vehicle weight, the vehicle had extraordinary gas mileage for the time in the mid 30s MPG real-world, which was near the top available for a non-hybrid. The 2000 Echo was available as a 2-door coupe or 4-door sedan with color choices of: Absolutely Red, Alpine Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Electric Green, Satin Gold Metallic, Seafoam Blue Metallic, and Super White. Optional features a CD changer, CD player, alloy wheels, clock, intermittent windshield wipers, power steering, 4-wheel ABS, anti-theft alarm system, power door locks, rear spoiler and rear window defroster.
- 2001 – The 2001 Echo also came as a standard 2-door coupe or 4-door sedan. Color choices were: Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Electric Green, Seafoam Blue Metallic, Alpine Silver, Brilliant Blue Pearl, Satin Gold Metallic, and Super White. Steel Wheels were standard this year and a rear split bench seat and keyless entry system were added as optional features on both models.
- 2002 – Not much changed in the 2002 Echo. By now Toyota was beginning to get the hint that their car wasn’t going to go as far as they’d liked, but they kept plugging away, this year making more optional features standard in an attempt to lure more buyers to their new model. The standard Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Alpine Silver and Electric Green were available colors, but there were a few new additions to choices including Polar White and Indigo Ink Pearl. Intermittent windshield wipers were moved from optional features to standard and for the first time, power exterior mirrors and front side airbags were added as options.
- 2003 – A restyling this year was Toyota’s last shot at increasing sales and interest in the Echo. Unfortunately the efforts presented were not sufficient, and by the next year, the Toyota Echo was made available only by special order. If excitement is in car color, then Toyota stretched a little by making this year’s models available in Aqua Ice Opalescent, Electric Green Mica, Indigo Ink Blue, Polar White, Silver Streak Mica, Black Sand Pearl, Impulse Red Pearl, Phantom Gray Pearl and Sand Castle Metallic. Fog Lights and a tachometer were added to the list of available options for both the sedan and coupe.
- 2004 – By now, Toyota certainly knew that the Echo was not going to make it much longer as a regular part of their lineup of autos offered in America and they had begun mainline development of the replacement Toyota Scion, which had already begun making appearances at auto shows around the nation as a concept vehicle. Nevertheless, in 2004, there were new changes and options available to the Echo including 15-inch wheels, an appearance package, and premium audio system. Colors in 2004 were pretty much the same as earlier years with the one exception of adding Phantom Gray Pearl.
- 2005 – The bell tolls for the Toyota Echo. In its final year since it was available only by special order, sales of the Echo plummeted and no significant changes were made either to the vehicle’s performance, color options or available options.