Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Toyota Echo Ownership Experience: Notes for Tall Drivers (or Why I Chose the Echo)

I drive a 2000 Toyota Echo and I’m here to tell you that the Echo is an amazing car for tall drivers. I am 6 feet 9 inches tall with a beanpole figure, and while I do have to do a little turtling (craning the neck down and out) to see the traffic signals at intersections, the Echo is among the very very few cars that I could comfortably sit in, let alone drive.

The front head and leg room doesn’t look all that great on paper, at 39.9” and 41.1” respectively, but something about the upright driving position and tall greenhouse let it work well for tall people. It has a seat that is kind of skimpy but nothing different than your other economy class cars, and it really doesn’t offer much support beyond my butt, but since you’re sitting almost as if you were in a minivan it works. Well, it works for most trips less than 200 miles, I should say. And given the lack of cruise control you’re not going to be driving much farther than that without getting out and stretching out your foot anyway. A tiny dummy pedal on the left doesn’t do much for my size 14 foot either, and I have to consciously move my left foot off of it to it doesn’t get too stiff on a long trip.

The front doors on the sedan are large enough for large people to get in and out comfortably, and while I do have to scrunch down to enter and sit in pretty much any sedan, the Echo isn't nearly as bad as other econo cars in this class. Rather than falling into the driver's seat, I can just kind of sit down into it.

Most other tall people at my height and up are driving with their seats tipped so far back they are checking their blind spot out of the rear window, but the Toyota Echo actually lets me sit up a little straighter than normal. It’s not perfect, I’m definitely still leaning back, but I think my in-laws said it best after going for a spin: the Toyota Echo is bigger inside than it looks from the outside. Back seat room is cramped for me, I have to bend sideways or way forward to even think about sitting in the back seat, but I never spend any time back there. As a front seat passenger the room is also pretty much fine.

The Echo also comes with 60/40 folding rear seats, and as tiny as the rear trunk lid appears you can actually get a fair amount of stuff in there. Ten paper grocery bags are no problem, but bulky stuff like multiple sleeping bags or a disassembled bicycle can be a challenge. (And if you’re wondering, yes, my uber-large Schwinn Impact mountain bike does fit in the back with the seat down and both tires removed. You just need a shoehorn to get it in.)

The moral of this story is simple: if you’re 6’9” or less, an Echo will work fine for you. You might get some weird looks getting out of it, but given the reliability and mpg stuff that I’ll be touching on in future posts, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up.

More In The Toyota Echo Ownership Series:
Toyota Echo Ownership Experience: Notes on MPG
Toyota Echo Ownership Experience: Highway Cruising & Cabin Comfort: Not Bad, Not A Lexus
Toyota Echo Ownership Experience: What is it like driving an Echo in the snow?
Toyota Echo Ownership Experience: True Cost to Own a Toyota Echo

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