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Safety of '01 Echo vs '05 Cobalt w/ABS

We have a 1-year-old son & 2 cars: my 2 door, manual 01 Toyota Echo w/96,000 miles which is paid off & my partner’s 4 door, automatic 05 Chevy Cobalt w/ABS which has another year of payments. We need to trim down financially, so are going to move to only 1 car w/no car payment. We live outside Boston & want to be sure our car is sufficiently safe. Is the '05 Cobalt w/ABS much safer than the '01 Echo? If so, is the a car that is similarly safe that we could buy outright for around $6K? Many thanks! -Rebecca

I can answer you to show the crash test ratings (NHTSA):

The Toyota Echo has a 4 (four) star rating except for ‘side, front seat’ which has 3 (three).

The '05 Cobalt has a 4 (four) star rating except for the ‘Front pass seat’ which rates a 5 (five). Likely because of vehicle size.

It’s close but also keep in mind the child won’t stay a child for long and will need more room. The Echo is quite small BUT payed off, correct?

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I’d keep the Cobalt. ABS is slightly safer than no ABS according the IIHS. It is 4 years newer, and unless you have had poor results with reliability it could continue to perform well for you. I think that most latent failures would have crept out after 3 or 4 years. Toyotas are also popular, so you should get good money for your Echo if it can be registered immediately by the buyer.

I reread the post. You have a 2-door with manual transmission. Can your mate drive it? Is the manual transmission a problem for him? Also, it’s much easier to get into and out of a 4-door car than a 2-door car. Add to that lifting a child as you contort into the back seat of a 2 door, and I’d say you should definitely sell the Echo. Kids grow fast and if leaning over inside a small car isn’t a problem now, it will be in a matter of a few short months.

You could probably sell the 2001 Echo in a day. I like the interior because the belts are easy to use and I prefer the Echo to the Yaris which replaced it. I figure that there is a good Echo market. The Echo has a much better than average reliability record according to Consumer Reports. That should help you sell it. Did I mention Consumer Reports? The Consumer Reports Buying Guide is still in the book stores, It’s about the size of Reader’s Digest and is thicker, colored mostly blue and white with 2009 in red letters. There is a lot of information in there. The April Annual Auto Issue is due out in early March.