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I Admire the Boldness of the Toyota Echo Coupe

Do you remember the Toyota Echo? You’d be forgiven if you don’t. The Echo was Toyota’s entry in subcompact cars in the U.S. from model years 2000-2005 before it was replaced by the Yaris. In fact, the Echo was called the Yaris in some parts of the world, and in Japan it was the Toyota Platz. I get why they didn’t call it that here because “Platz” sounds like a sound a sick cat would make.

Anyway, the Echo was a pretty uneventful car that was probably driven by uneventful people. That said, there was one aspect of the Echo that I find unusual to the point that it’s admirable. You see, when the Echo came around for the 2000 model year, it replaced not only the Tercel sedan, but also the Paseo coupe. The Paseo was a small coupe loosely based on the Tercel and it actually had kind of a cool, sporty look to it. The coupe version of the Echo, however, made absolutely no attempt at looking sporty.

And therein lies the mystique of the Toyota Echo coupe. Most 2-door cars, regardless of their performance, at least make some sort of attempt to look sporty. Sure, you may not be driving an actual sports car — but from behind the wheel of an affordable compact coupe, at least you’re driving something a little more interesting than a more milquetoast sedan. The Toyota Paseo is a perfect example of this along with other small coupes of the era like the 2-door variants of the Pontiac Sunfire, Honda Civic, and Ford Escort.

All of those cars at least made an attempt to look sporty — but feast your eyes upon the Echo coupe. It’s just an Echo sedan, which was a pretty ugly little car, but with two fewer doors. That’s all of the effort that went into the design of this coupe. Take the sedan, remove two doors and your design is completed by lunch. There isn’t any sort of fastback, thrilling look, and it has what appears to be the same stubby trunk as the sedan. If you were driving behind an Echo, you would have no idea if it were a coupe or a sedan just by looking at the back of it. The Echo is already an oddly proportioned car, and Toyota made it even odder with the lazily designed coupe version.

For all of its ugliness and its oddness, I actually kind of admire the Echo coupe. It’s bold in its stance against looking sporty. The Echo coupe is a car that knows its place in the automotive food chain, and isn’t trying to fool anybody with a sporty look with lackluster performance underneath. It would have made a heck of a lot more sense as a 3-door hatchback (which is exactly what the Yaris that replaced it was), but nope. Toyota wasn’t ready to exit the subcompact coupe game and gave it one last shot with the decidedly unsporty Echo.

With coupes out of style outside of muscle cars and some luxury cars, we may never see a car quite like the Echo coupe ever again. It might not have been pretty, but I’m glad the Echo coupe happened. Find a Toyota Echo Coupe for sale

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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