We Talk Some Of The Best Cheap Used Cars Right Now With Kevin Williams – The Autopian Podcast


It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for another The Autopian Podcast. We have a special guest today! It’s Kevin Williams, one of our favorite automotive writers. He loves cheap cars as much as we do and isn’t afraid to get something weird and flip cars.

There’s so much here it’s worth listening (as always) to the full podcast because Kevin is an inveterate car buyer and flipper and has driven/bought/sold some weird stuff. Also, he tracked a Daewoo to death. Why do old Hyundai Santa Fe engines go for like $7,000? Which Civic is the right engine?

Kevin’s love for the Yaris and Echo is appealing to me. Especially the Echo.


Here’s the sedan version of the Echo, which was also sold as the Toyota Platz. Can you imagine if they sold it as the Platz here? What a name. Elsewhere this car was badged as the Yaris, which is what the Echo eventually became.

The car debuted in the United States in 2002 as a sub-Corolla offering and, for some reason, all the press photos for it are of it in front of various shops and diners.


I can’t explain it either, but I loved the tall coupe version of this car which looked slightly aquatic. Besides its unique look, Kevin attests to owning numerous cars with the Toyota 1NZ engine, which is only good for 109 HP in most uses (Yaris, Scion xA, Scion xB) but can churn miles.

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I’m embedding the three most recent episodes below if you want to listen to it from your browser. Please like, subscribe, rate, et cetera.

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9 Responses

  1. We thoroughly enjoyed our Echo. My favorite part was giving our daughter’s friends rides in it on nice days. I’d suggest they put the windows down and enjoy the fresh air. They got so confused when they didn’t see buttons to “roll” the windows down. None of them had ever used manual crank windows.

  2. The Echo is one of the many examples of cars hated or ranked low when new that made EXCELLENT new cars (honestly, most Toyotas fit in this category). My family had one and the thing would get 40mpg without trying and had over 250K miles when sold. I’m friends with a guy who has around 600K on his Echo. They are really simple and durable cars.

  3. I absolutely love my ‘03 Echo. It’s a 4 door sedan with a manual and despite the AC not working, I drive it all the time. I alternate between driving it and my ‘18 Miata to work and honestly, deep down I think I like the Echo days better. Just something about the clunky (at least compared to the Miata) 5 speed, the buzzy little engine, and excellent visibility just make it so enjoyable to drive.

  4. People need to stop hating on the Echo. It’s fucking awesome 🙂

    Canada got an Echo hatchback we never got down here, in both 2-door and 4-door hatch. They even got a sporty RS hatch. When it was replaced by the Yaris, they still got RS variants not sold in the US 🙁

    I’d love a 4-door Echo RS hatch in blue or gold

    1. The echo rs hatch was great and actually fun to drive.
      I test drove a Yaris, and while they were just as versatile and reliable as an Echo, every bit of nimblness and sportiness was tuned out of the car. It was extremely comfortable and good on the highway, but it was way too soft and vague for a small car. It was a real regression compared to the Echo.

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