Toyota Yaris / Echo Hatchback

Here’s a picture, taken inland from the Costa Brava in Spain, of our little Toyota Yaris, rented from EasyCar.
Toyota Yaris in Spain

The Yaris is really a Toyota Echo hatchback. It’s wildly popular in Europe — we saw them all over Spain and London. And now the model is coming to Canada (but, oddly, not the USA): the Echo Hatchback will be available here, says Charlottetown Toyota, starting in August.

I’ve always found the standard Echo to be a frightfully ugly car, with its jaunty high rear end. The Yaris/Echo Hatchback has the same form factor, but without a trunk, that which offends me is cut off, and the result is a sport looking car with a lot of room inside.

Although the Yaris is smaller than our 2000 Jetta Sedan (it’s 72cm shorter, 7cm thinner and almost exactly the same height), the interior space is laid out in such a way as to feel much roomier. This was most obvious with Oliver in his car seat in the middle of the back seat: in the Jetta, his feet touch the back of the front seats; in the Yaris he had lots of leg room.

Fuel economy-wise the Yaris was fantastic: we filled it up in Barcelona, drove around a lot for 3 days, and didn’t use a half a tank of gas. The Yaris is rated at 41/57 mpg (city/highway); our Jetta is 19/28 mpg. In other words, the Yaris can go twice as far on a gallon of gas as the Jetta.

Needless to say, we’re going to take one for a test drive when they arrive in Charlottetown at the end of the summer.


jm's picture
jm on July 8, 2003 - 06:10 Permalink

If this car had been available in the US in the summer of 2002 I would have NEVER bought my disappointing Ford Focus. PLease carry this car here!

ks's picture
ks on July 9, 2003 - 09:48 Permalink

I would like to echo (heh) the above comment… I will never buy a new car, UNLESS Toyota releases this car in the US! Until then I will stick with my very satisfying Ford Aspire.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 9, 2003 - 14:55 Permalink

I’m usually quite fond of the cars in Europe. They have a very distinct style and look about them. Often times car companies provide the European market with the nicer, top end cars then we have here in North America. American cars are big, comfy, cheap and easy. They are not know for style or performance, but for so called “reliability and cost effectiveness”. But I’ve hardly known a good American car. Designs are often cheap looking. Interior design is always the worst in NA cars. Cavaliers and Sunfires just blow my mind with how well they sell. Sure, they’re cheap from the get go, but they are often filled with trouble and headache. Plus can you say ugly? Some NA cars are slowly getting there. Since teaming up with Benz, Chrysler has been looking and feeling better.

Now this can also be true with European cars and Japanese cars, they’re not perfect. (though close) I know, I have a Nissan Maxima that’s been a lot of issues the last few months, but it’s also 9 years old and still a slick looking car. It works great when needed, providing me with a lot more horse power and pull then then the new 2004 Cavaliers would ever do (can you tell I’m not a GM fan?). Great weight for the highway, and comfort during speed. The interior design is gorgeous and it still has a great comfortable over all feel.

Personally I feel you could never go wrong with a German made car. Those things were designed with toughness in mind. They keep going and going and always look good.

Over all I think import cars are the way to go. Mind you, you still need to learn to weed out the bad ones there also. Be careful of such junk as Hyundai and Kia. I’m sure those cars are recycled Honda parts. That’s trouble waiting to happen.

Renee's picture
Renee on August 14, 2003 - 15:54 Permalink

I just bought an echo hatchback LE and it’s awesome. The drive is amazing, and it’s a pretty funky car. Everything a younger person could want. It’s about time there is a good car, priced right for those who are first time buyers. I’m not saying you have to be a first time buyer to have this car…but it’s what attracted me at first!

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 14, 2003 - 17:14 Permalink

Renee, did you buy a manual or automatic? And is there a large cup-holder type thing in the middle of the back seat?

Renee's picture
Renee on August 15, 2003 - 18:47 Permalink

Unfortantly Peter I bought an automatic. There is a cup-holder in the backseat…not the best place, but alright if you only want 4 people in your car. I figure it gives me a good excuse not to drive around my drunk friends every wekekend! :o)

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on August 26, 2003 - 19:26 Permalink

I’m now the proud owner (leaser?) of a silver 2004 4-door Echo hatchback standard.

Mal Ross's picture
Mal Ross on August 28, 2003 - 11:15 Permalink

Re: the comparison of MPG figures. If you’re comparing European figures for the Yaris to North American figures for the Jetta, remember that you need to multiply NA figures by about 1.2. A gallon over here (Europe) isn’t the same as a gallon on your side of the pond. That said, those Jetta figures are still pretty crumby.

Danny's picture
Danny on September 11, 2003 - 23:35 Permalink

I was stationed in Italy from 1998-2000, and I agree, the Euro cars are just so much more interesting and innovative and yes, NOBODY would ever buy a Cavalier over there. I liked the Focus and the Yaris, and bought a new 2000 Focus when I returned to the US. All the research seemed to point to a great car, I still agree the idea WAS great, but the execution still leaves a lot (A LOT) to be desired. Last time I am buying Ford OR GM, Toyota is definitely looking better, if only for the reliability. Toyota is probably one of the most conservative of the foreign car makers, but quality will win you over in the end, after the new-car smell fades. I’ve owned two Toyotas (I’m a multi-car guy) and I love(d) them both, 1975 Corolla 1200 Sport Coupe and a 1971 Corona that I still own (bought used). The only thing I don’t like about the Yaris is the center-mounted instrument cluster a la Twingo, OK bows to world car, but what about that crimp in my neck <lol> when driving ? I am sick enough of my Focus to consider a Yaris/Echo NOW ! <grin> but definitely as the next new car.

Nedder's picture
Nedder on February 5, 2004 - 19:31 Permalink

I love my Echo Hatchback…. It’s a beautiful silver RS with all the toys. Dropped a poundin’ system into it and 15” rims and watch people almost crash tryin’ to figure out what it is while driving.

Corners like a dream, holds all my equipement (musician), punchy for it’s size, and chicks dig it!!!

I’m happy.

lisa's picture
lisa on February 10, 2004 - 04:48 Permalink

Check this out… Toyota Echo Hatchback has been available in Australia since 1999. has 180 used ones up for sale right now. Was surprised cause all the press I had read made no mention of this and made it sound like we (Canada) were the first to have the the Toyota Echo Hatchback.
I am presently waiting for delivery of my blue 2 door automatic CE

Eric Hail's picture
Eric Hail on February 23, 2004 - 07:06 Permalink

I live in Japan. Just ordered a 2004 Vitz 1.3 CVT. It will arrive in three weeks. Does anyone know about this transmision and battery system. It has a lithium-ion battery. I’m worried that it’ll be expensive to replace! However, it gets 23km/l on the highway!

William H. Bull's picture
William H. Bull on April 25, 2004 - 14:09 Permalink

One of the very worst things an auto manufacturer can do
to the public is heavily promote an excellent car which they
have no intention of producing in quantity or making widely
available. The Toyota Echo/Yaris Coupe, Four-door and Hatch-
back is a perfect example.
In literally months of effort, I have found only two new
Echos for sale at five large Toyota dealers..niether one
equipped to appeal to any buyer (no power steering, no fold-
down rear seats, etc. etc.). Toyota’s response to my many
inquiries? An inscrutable silence. Ideas, anyone?

Joe's picture
Joe on May 7, 2004 - 15:24 Permalink

Has anyone tried to import an Echo Hatchback from Canada into the US?

According to what I’ve read on the web, all you need is to present the US customs officer with a letter from the manufacturer stating that the vehicle (identified by the VIN) complies with all applicable U.S. Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), except for minor labeling requirements.

Randy's picture
Randy on May 12, 2004 - 23:44 Permalink

Just purchased a Echo Hatchback today..We took 2 test drives and were sold on this little zoom zoom from the start.Its fit and finish is exceptional and you can’t ignore the MPGs.Here in Alberta Canada we have Oil like water but that dosen’t stop the fuel prices from being at a almost all time high.We were looking for a new car to replace our 10 yr old unit and the Echo was beckoning.I have ordered the 2 dr LE with the comfort options and i had to have that Borla Exsaust my treat to me since this little Peach according to her is my Mainframes car.We are looking forward to driving it to the Rockies and spending money on other things than fuel!!

David's picture
David on May 14, 2004 - 01:52 Permalink

For Joe:

Yes, you can import the Echo Hatchback into the US. We did it through a dealer in BC in October 2003. He put us in touch with the importer to use. It is legal, but has to be done through a licensed importer. All the financial details were handled via email and the money transfer was handled through a customs broker. Very ease and we never crossed the border. Call or email your nearest Toyota Canada dealer.
The warranty is good in the US, and we love our car. 40 MPG!

Anna's picture
Anna on June 8, 2004 - 20:50 Permalink

Can any one tell me what the Echo hatchback is like in the winter? I live in the snow belt of Ontario and commuting can be a head ache

Randy's picture
Randy on June 10, 2004 - 02:41 Permalink

To Anna,
Hi.. I am responding to your post “Echo in the Winter”. We haven’t drivin our Echo thru a Canuck winter yet,but we did drive it on the Icefield Parkway in a nasty spring storm.We are sooo pleased with the performance of our car, it wasn’t bothered by the Snowy Mtn roads in the least.I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of experiencing a drive on this road between Banff and Jasper? It is a variety of altitudes that are a great test of a vehicles drivability etc.We give the Echo a passing grade and i would have no reservations about taking this vehicle on much longer roadtrips in the future…. I hope this helps you….

Jim's picture
Jim on June 23, 2004 - 03:10 Permalink

Bought my RS in December, thing handles really well in the snow, no problems, and I’m a new driver.

DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on June 27, 2004 - 12:04 Permalink

Great review here.
Seems they are making special models for the Canadian market that aren’t avail. south of the border.

KIM's picture
KIM on July 21, 2004 - 18:50 Permalink

Bought a echo hatchback le in march of 04, love it. its everything they say except i’ve never owned a vehical where people walk up to you and ask all sorts of questions about it. drawbacks: drivers side mirror 1/3 too small, rear hatch needs a manual locking knob, using the key all the time to lock it up is a pain. long distant drive, about 9 hrs with a few pit stops, seats get uncomfortable. These are just minor ticks, we average 40 mpg, insurance is cheaper and maintainence costs appear to be low as well according to the schedual i received from the dealership. Highway driving; fully loaded with three adults and all the camping gear we could literally stuff in it; was really good performance going up and down in the rockies mountains. I’d recommend this car to anyone.

David's picture
David on July 29, 2004 - 17:57 Permalink

Bought a 2004 Yaris in Mexico for urban use on narrow cobblestone streets and tough parking spots, but was happily surprised to find it does very well on the highway too. We live in San Miguel de Allende at circa 6000 ft. We like it and have found no drawbacks other than the driver’s side mirror that provides a false view of cars behind/overtaking us. The tires also seem too small for the speed bumps/cobblestones….but otherwise a phenomenal car! The engine is peppy and quiet; the center console is easy to use and has a digital tach & speedo the interior is roomy and seats us high. We compared the Yaris to the Peugeot 206, Renault Clio, Fiat Matrix, etc.
In nearly every aspect the Yaris seemed to us superior.

Jeff's picture
Jeff on August 1, 2004 - 23:21 Permalink

I bought a 2003 echo and recently I have experienced excessive noise when making a right turn and or driving through a right curve.

Abdel Mohammed's picture
Abdel Mohammed on October 1, 2004 - 04:51 Permalink


I got my 2005 Echo Hatchback one week ago…and I am absolutely loving it. Got it with AC and bumper package, as well as, MP3 player and automatic transmission.

This little guy handles well on the highway…even at 120 km/h and upwards…surprising given its less than a ton weight. I wish I got the keyless entry, but it was a bit expensive.

I still haven’t done a gas mileage check for myself, but when I do I will post the results for you guys to see.

I do a mix of highway and street driving for 80 km/day and I do not drive aggressively at all, so I guess the mileage result be a fair one.

Again the fuel economy should be atrributed to the VVT-i technology Toyota introduced to these cars. I’ve seen outstanding results on my wife’s Pontiac Vibe (which is basically a Toyota Matrix dressed up in a wig).

So if you own a rust up, fuel gozzling, slow responding ride that does not much of carrying a lot of stuff around for you, this is the car for you, knowing that high gas prices are here to stay.

Hats off to Toyota.

ONYEEZE's picture
ONYEEZE on October 4, 2004 - 13:42 Permalink

Hi there. I am just reading the comments, I’m wondering if someone who has a 2004 or so echo TOYO TAcould get back to me on how it handles in the snow. I am in BC and will be doing mountain driving on paved roads. Snow could be an issue in winter. If anyone knows please reply to my email.


billy jo's picture
billy jo on November 11, 2004 - 11:25 Permalink

What is everyone’s opinion of the interior? The majority of complaints I have read thus far have stated that the interior looks and feels rather cheap.

Derek's picture
Derek on January 4, 2005 - 20:20 Permalink


My Wife and I just purchesed an Echo and we could not be any more happy. We get the car in another day and judging by everyones responce, we can’t wait to drive it. If anyone has had any problems with a 2003 echo that seems to be common in a lot of these cars, please email me and let me know. Thanks

Carolyn's picture
Carolyn on January 6, 2005 - 19:06 Permalink

I bought a manual 2004 Echo Hatchback RS in March ‘04 and absolutely love it! It’s got all the toys, but a tach wasn’t an option. I was just wondering if anyone has installed an aftermarket tach? And if so, is it easy? I have been in contact with Toyota to see if I could buy the instrument cluster for the ‘05 (it comes with a tach) but they seem stumped…no one can give me a straight answer. Has anyone considered this option? By the way…I live in Ontario and my echo is excellent in the snow! Thanks.

Sam's picture
Sam on July 25, 2005 - 17:49 Permalink

I’m currently driving a 1988 Camry that was given to me, keeps going and going with minimal intervention, saw an ‘89 in the Toyota showroom in my neighborhood with 800,000km, original engine and transmission, I’ve got 500k to go. Enough about the Camry, I want the Yaris/Echo when/if the Camry ever dies, but it really really bothers me that the diesel, which is available in the European Yaris, is not available here. Toyota is world renowned for their diesels. The North American gasoline Echo consumes 35% more fuel that the Yaris diesel and the diesel has 20% more torque (which is really what matters). Toyota probably thinks there is no demand in North America for the diesel, I think Canada is different. I’ve mailed them expressing my interest in it, maybe if more of us do they might bestow upon us this great little engine.

Kevin Foote's picture
Kevin Foote on July 27, 2005 - 22:33 Permalink

I am waiting for my 2005 Echo hatchback rs. It should be here in 2-4 weeks, I was starting to get nervous on wether I made the right descion. I test drove the le automatic and liked it, but I am getting the rs manual. Can anybody comment on this model?

MIKE's picture
MIKE on August 29, 2005 - 04:45 Permalink

while on vacation in azores i rented a toyota yaris ,great on gas ,handles great, and ideal for narrow roads ,as they have in theazores ,but for winnipeg canada for them cold winters ,i donno if it handles good ,guess im gonna keep drinving my all whell . my opinion …

Bob McCausland's picture
Bob McCausland on May 28, 2006 - 17:38 Permalink

I have a 2003 Echo which makes some noise turning right. The dealer says it is rust on the rotors. I just had the front brakes done (not at Toyota) and the sound was greatly reduced. It handles well in the snow if you use 14 inch wheels and good snow tires. For warranty you have to have the right diameter tire so that your odometer is correct. The low profile 15 inch tires that came with it were useless in snow and uncomfortable compared to the 14 inch snow tires.

Alex's picture
Alex on July 24, 2006 - 17:21 Permalink

I own a 2004 TOYOTA ECHO HATCHBACK and was wondering if anyone else has noise problems in the front end when making U turns or when turning into tight spaces. Also if anyone else has been told by the dealership that their brakes are rusting (Rotors and drums) Vehicle is under 40,000 kilometers roughly 25,000 Miles (I don’t think that should be happening). The Paint is chiping on the hood and the doors some rust spots are visible I will take it up with the dealership next week. Does anyone else have these problems?

m's picture
m on April 11, 2007 - 21:20 Permalink

I bought a 2007 yaris two weeks ago and now am experiencing excessive noise. Driving (60) with the windows open all the way seems to make it worse. Any tips or stories to help eleviate the problem.

Lou's picture
Lou on April 26, 2007 - 03:22 Permalink

I have a 2005 Echo Hatchback. I went to Toyota because of the same problem (rattling sound on sharp right turns) and they changed all the front brake componets on both wheels. They have an internal memo advising people with the same problem to replace all components due to premature rust accumulation. No charge.

Rick's picture
Rick on August 6, 2007 - 23:19 Permalink

I have a 2005 Echo Hatchback standard. I love it, except the paint chips and when I brought it in to see about the rattling sound, the service dept changed the front brakes, charged me $400, blamed it (the noise) on “premature wear due to lack of maintenance” highlighting this little gem in yellow on the invoice, rubbing my nose in the fact that I hadn’t done the optional 32000km once-over (S100). Like I would pay them to find problems for me. The car is a jewel, can’t same for the Toyota boys wearing suits.

robyn's picture
robyn on August 13, 2007 - 23:06 Permalink

Hi! I too am having problems with my front brakes…they say it’s rust on the rotors and drums! I’ve owned and driven cars since 1974 and this is the first I’ve heard of rust on the rotors and drums in a 3-4 year old car. What’s up with this? Robyn

Jeff's picture
Jeff on August 27, 2007 - 06:15 Permalink

I drive a 2006 Kia Spectra. One thing I hate about this car is that the paint on the bottom right of my back doors, the paint is peeling off. Kia will not fix it! As far as the drive goes, it is great! The gas mileage is 50mpg+. Which also is good. I’ve already put 100,000 kms on the car and it is just over one year old. I have taken the Toyota Yaris for a test drive and was not impressed. I am 6”5 and that almost leaves me with no room! Leg room and head room. I regret no buying the 2007 Camry Sport!! Very nice car and smooth riding! Toyota has a great rep in our area. The cars just never die! They last forever.

Rick's picture
Rick on September 4, 2007 - 08:57 Permalink

For the benefit of global warming, I should mention that my 2005 echo hatch gets much better mileage at 120kmh than at 100kmh….still handles very well the the higher speed. Bonus!

Lance's picture
Lance on January 16, 2009 - 03:50 Permalink

Hey I just bought a 2005 4dr Echo hatchback 5 speed earlier today. I haven’t driven it yet because I still haven’t transferred the registration over to me. I have to say, the last few posts about the rust on the breaks frightens me.
I have to say though the car seems amazing to me. I cant wait to get rid of my little piece-of-s**t 2000 Mazda Protege and drive around my REAL car!
My parents have had a 2003 Echo sedan since it rolled off the assembly line. It’s an amazing car, in 150 000 kilometers all it’s ever needed was oil and filter changes. Plus it’s very comfortable and nice and peppy too. I drive it whenever I can.
Earlier this morning on my commute to university in my Protege, I seen an Echo just like the one I was going to buy at a stoplight. I knew I was gonna buy one so I was watching it as it was making a left turn through the intersection. Next thing I knew, an Elantra going at least 60 km/h went straight into it’s passenger side and flipped it over. It made my heart sink a little. Nobody was hurt thankfully.

Anne's picture
Anne on February 23, 2010 - 03:21 Permalink

Here’s something else that people should worry about. This is a serious design flaw in the Echo/Yaris models. The forward pillars on each side of the windshield are thicker than most cars (designed for crash safety). Unfortunately, they reduce visibility in that they totally block pedestrians, cyclists or motorists. This is not just my claim. This is backed up by Australia’s NRMA. See below:…
I’ve had an accident where I hit somebody because I didn’t see him. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, but he could have been. I feel that no matter how careful I am now, another accident could happen. I believe I’m stuck with the Toyota Echo now. A word of advice for future Echo buyers? It may be cute, but be careful. What you don’t see can cost you.

Anna's picture
Anna on May 31, 2010 - 18:49 Permalink

I just bought an echo hatchback LE and it’s awesome. The drive is amazing, and it’s a pretty funky car. A good hire car.

peiauto's picture
peiauto on June 2, 2010 - 18:19 Permalink

I bought my 2001 Echo sedan with under 10,000kms in the fall of 2000
The only repairs have been to the front and rear wheel bearings
I changed the oil about every 8,000kms — My odometer now reads in excess of 415,000
I’d recommend one to anyone.