Saturday, October 11, 2003
I test-drove a 2004 Echo hatchback today.
It's like driving a really small mini-van. The good points: The drive-train was typical of Toyota. Once inside, the dashboard had a similar design to the Celica (similar colour, round vents). The nice thing about the interior of the Echo is that it isn't ugly, like its exterior.
And the speedometer in the center? I didn't find it as odd as I would have thought. Kinda like when cruise control is put in with the signal lights, instead of on the steering wheel. You adapt. Only less so, as it's completely obvious where the speedometer is.
The bad points: Toyota salesmen aren't that bright. They seem to have trouble dealing with different demographics (I don't care about the LATCH system - I already told you, I have no kids. And the car is "easy to get in to"? I can't say I found other cars difficult. Perhaps he thought I had rode in on a horse). The seat is "up high" (a la minivan), so I found it to be an uncomfortable ride. And of course, I find the car hideously ugly. Not to the level of an Aztec, say, (that's the shame about being fat and ugly - there's so much more ugliness there), but not something I would buy. Too bad, though. In theory, at least, I like small, efficient, well-built cars with a short clutch (and no deadspace) with the gas and the brake so proportioned to make heel-and-toe downshifting easy. And a tachometer would be nice. But Toyota's forgiving transmission doesn't require exact shifts.
As for the power: sufficient for its purpose. I can accellerate in 5th gear - 100-130kph, say - without any difficulty, so although the machine doesn't pin you back in your seat, I can't say the machine is underpowered. It's just a dull ride.
And the Toyota Supra on the northside (red) is a standard, but looks to have been very mistreated by its former owners (some UNB Staff stickers on it, curiously enough), and the red C4 corvette and the silver 97 camaro are automatics.
I also got a private tour of Fredericton's wastewater treatment facility.