The Toyota Echo, known as the Platz in its homeland (the hatchback was named Vitz), was available in the United States for the 2000 through 2005 model years. It was an inoffensive and reliable little commuter appliance, but something about its proportions seemed wrong to American car shoppers and few signed on the line that is dotted.
These days, even a Daewoo Lanos is easier to find than an Echo, but I was able to find this forlorn silver ’00 in a Denver-area self-service yard.
Part of the Echo’s image problem stemmed from its use as the car driven by the skin-crawlingly creepy character played by Robin Williams in the 2002 film, “One Hour Photo.” Echo sales, already low, crashed completely.
Under the hood, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 108 horsepower, which made the 2,035-pound Echo reasonably quick. Not that anyone cared.
The Echo was supposed to be a hit with young Americans, which (sort of) happened when the Scion xA and xB were put on the same platform. The Yaris is descended from the Echo as well.
The digital odometer meant that I couldn’t get a mileage figure for this car, but the interior looks damn near new and much of the body damage looks like junkyard-forklift-inflicted stuff. Was it some family’s seldom-used extra car? Owned by an elderly driver who drove only to church on Sundays? We’ll never know.
Note how the youthful-and-athletic Echo owner literally shakes his butt in the faces of some Detroit Iron-driving old farts. This ad makes me embarrassed for Toyota.
In Japan … well, maybe a Japanese speaker can explain what’s going on in this Platz ad.