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Toyota Echo in the snow?

Hello – I’m thinking of buying a 2000 Toyota Echo and wonder if anyone has any opinions about its handling in the snow and ice. My commute is not long (2-3 miles) but I will be doing some longer distances in the ice and snow. Anyone have thoughts on this?

It’s a front wheel drive car, and should be OK. If you buy good winter tires, such as Michelin X-ICE, you will have great traction.

It will work wonderfully due to small narrow tires. If it doesn’t purchase 4 winter tires and it will be unstoppable in the snow.

This shows you how much I know about such things – I would have thought the small narrow tires would have been worse in the snow. But I suppose that my old Plymouth Fury 3 was just big all over, and I think that was the last car I bought to drive in northern climates MANY years ago (all of the others were hand-me-downs). Thanks for responding!

A family member has a 2000 Echo with regular tires and it runs all winter and we have hills in town.

Yea, the thin tyres put more psi on the tyre so it will go through the snow rather than on it. No real help on ice, but modern winter tyres are great on ice.

Don’t You Mean “Better On Ice?”

Where I live there are no tyres that are “great” on ice. Budget cuts are even forcing the county and state to cut back on sand and salt. Sometimes even a bloke on a Zamboni couldn’t make the roads more treacherous.

Speaking of Zambonis, The Detroit Red Wings hockey team is the only thing around here that’s bloody “great” on ice.

Just joking with you Joseph.

Small cars can be great in the snow. The only thing is, do to a small cars lightness, snow ruts, and slush clumps have a tendency to effect steering more. This may make the driver of small cars drive a little slower in snow, which IMO is a good thing.

A Shorter Wheelbase Calls For Slower Driving in Slop, Too!

It’s my opinion that a short wheelbase makes the car tend to “ground loop” easier. A longer base causes greater straight-line stability. One just has to keep this in mind and give some time to become “checked out” driving a smaller/lighter machine.

I drove a VW Rabbit GTI for 12 years in Anchorage (5-6 months snow and ice each winter) and I never, ever got stuck. I used snow tires, if you can it’ll make it easier (get them on an extra set of rims from Tire Rack or Discount Tire, they can deliver them mounted and balanced). Can you get by without them? Sure, but I guarantee you’ll do better with them.

studded tires help alot on ice. be sure to get all 4

I had good results with Snow King tires some years ago. They are a cheaper brand.

I bought my Toyota Echo new in 2002 and had it in Juneau and Haines, Alaska. I’ve lived in Alaska my entire life and driven many front wheel drive small cars (Subaru’s, Mitsubishi’s, Hyundai’s, etc.). None of those other cars could compare to the handling in deep, heavy snow or icy conditions when I put new Cooper studded tires on the Echo the first winter I bought it. I lived in Haines, Alaska the winter we got over 300 inches of snow and only got stuck once after leaving my car parked for three weeks, but so did every other car in the parking lot including the big trucks. (see photo) I’ve driven through the Haines pass with over 36 inches of snow on the ground, actually coming over the hood. The only problem was visibility. I had to roll down the window and look out the side. (This was an extreme condition that you likely won’t find outside of Alaska.)

I think this car does so well in the snow with great tires on it because it is so lightweight. There is less mass to push through the snow, which also means it’s also important to keep the momentum going if the snow is over 2 feet deep. The good news is that a light car is also easier to stop. So instead of sliding through the icy intersections like I did in my truck, I’d drive the Echo on the icy days to be safer. If you do buy a used Echo for snow country make sure it had the rear brake lines fixed. There was a recall for a free replacement of a design flaw that could lead to the rear pads seizing up.

We drive ours in snow country and it does fine. We do put 4 studded snow tires on, but that is mostly because we live at the foot of a steep curved hill. We have only been snowed in one day in all these years. My 4 wheel drive Subaru (also with studded snow tires) could not get us up the hill that day either. We had to resort to snowshoes!

Great point about all eight. Putting studs on only the front will cause serious handling issues.

Studs are good in those states where they are legal . However modern WINTER tyres are far batter than the old snow tyres on ice. I suspect you will not need more.

I think you mean to say the thin (narrow) tires put more PSI on the ground (pavement).

An analogy I have heard - does it make sense? - is that narrow tires are like a pizza cutter - they cut through the snow and get down to the pavement, whereas wide tires float on top of the snow. The snow between the tires and the ground is a slippery medium.