Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Smart Car?

I have been trying to find a review of the Smart Car, but have had no luck. Has anyone had experience with this car?

Have you googled ‘smart car review’? All the major car mag web sites have reviews. Here’s one at Edumunds, they’re driving one long term, lots of comments:*
From everything I read it is a very limited car, useful if size is a major priority. You can get a more useful (4 seat, storage space, better performing) car for less, like a Yaris, or a much better car (Fit)for a little more. Remember, the Smart requires premium fuel, gets about 35 mpg. Nothing amazing.

Thanks! I did Google it, and even found the noted website, but somehow missed it.
The mileage is a little bit better than my towncar(20), but I don’t have to use premium fuel.

It’s a question of value. They are just not worth the money…

And, the reviewers have noted how badly the transmission shifts, subjecting the occupants to lurching with every shift. Today, I was driving next to one, and it was possible to actually witness the effect.

With each shift, the nose of the car first dove and then rose perceptibly, and that was certainly not the result of an excessive amount of brute power from its engine. IMHO, the only advantage of this car is the ability to park it in extremely small spaces. For the same money or less, it is possilbe to get a larger, more comfortable car that gets equivalent gas mileage.

I’ve read more than one article criticizing the transmission. The engine is underpowered and this causes the transmission to constantly upshift and downshift.
When Car and Driver tested one here in the OK Panhandle several years back (and this is flat, wide open, level space with little traffic) the best mileage they attained was 37 MPG.

There are a lot more cars out there with more room, better performance, and probably reliability for a better price.
It will be interesting to see if the Smart Cars wind up prone to transmission problems; with the transmission being Car and Driver’s biggest complaint on them followed by lack of space and poor ergonomics.

Every review I’ve read of the Smart hasn’t exactly been glowing with praise. The consensus is that, it’s underpowered, its transmission is horrid, but it’s really easy to park, and if you did nothing but city driving it wouldn’t be terrible. However, unforgivably, it requires premium fuel, and isn’t safe if you have an accident with something bigger than another Smart (which is literally every other car on the road). The fuel mileage is good, but unimpressive for the car’s size. Overall you can get bigger, more comfortable/competent cars that only give up 2 MPG or so for less money. So the Smart isn’t really all that great.

Don’t buy one, not worth the money.

I seriously considered this one (just bought a Toyota Yaris) but, with all the long-distance driving I do at this point in my life, seemed too risky; if I just tooled around town here, I might be tempted. However, I agree that what I’ve heard about performance hasn’t been glowing, and I also agree it’s overpriced for what you’re getting; the mpg in America doesn’t match what makes it so impressive in Europe and, face it, it looks really kind of ridiculous out among the monster trucks, towering SUVs, and scary 18-wheelers going 80 mph on the interstate. I’d pass on it… By the time I need another car (ten or more years, and I won’t be commuting then), I hope this one will be either proven or refined or something even better will have been developed by then for just in-town driving… If not, I’ll be searching for a classic old vintage historic" original VW Beetle “creampuff” to drive in my dotage… Always wanted the bright yellow convertible with black top… : D

I’d get one for around-town driving only. If you do some highway driving, probably would find a different car.

All these comments about what you have read. tssh

I own a Smartcar. I love it. I don’t live in a city, but I use it for commuting. I get 41-42 mpg routinely. So it uses premium; it is no big deal when you get good gas mileage.

I drive the car in manual mode 98% of the time. I experience no lurching during shifts. It is very smooth. On a significant uphill it may slow down a few mph if I don’t downshift. That is no big deal. It is very stable at 60-65 mph. It has a wide wheel track that gives it a sports car feel for the road. I have not sensed a hint of over or under steer, even on very wet roads.

How many times do you get in a vehicle alone to go somewhere? I bet for most it is just the driver. All the unused space is wasted. If you only can have one vehicle and you need to carry more than one passenger or haul alot of stuff, a Smartcar is not the answer for you. I happen to own a debt-free SUV for the times that I have to transport a crowd or lots of stuff. That makes my situation very workable.

Instead of reading reviews only, while not go to a dealer and test drive one. Talk to owners. It may be a good solution for you. It may also not be your best choice for your circumstances.

One last thing, the car is a magnet for attention. I have had mine for 5 months now. I frequently see people waving at me, going out of their way to talk to me when I get out. I have had people leave notes under my wiper blades. They are all very excited to learn how I feel about the car. Don’t get one if you wish to be ignored.

A few months ago, I was a passenger in an Accord sedan that was hit broadside by a Lexus SUV. The impact drove the Accord sideways about six feet, and we spun about 180 degrees in the process. I have no doubt whatsoever that a Smart car in that same scenario would have become airborne and would have landed quite a distance down the road, possibly in the path of the 18 wheelers that we somehow managed to avoid.

Although the crash testing that has been done on the Smart is indicative of decent passenger protection, all of that testing is predicated on a Smart car being impacted by a vehicle of similar weight. Unfortunately for anyone in a Smart car that is in a collision, virtually everything else on the road outweighs it by a substantial margin. And, also unfortunately for the people in the Smart car, the laws of Physics will not be denied.

For a car that small and underpowered 42 MPG isn’t very good. Several more substantial vehicles can equal or surpass that and have the added benefit of not being a deathtrap. The Canadian/Euro model has a turbodiesel that is even slower but returns upwards of 60 MPG or better, if the U.S. version could duplicate that feat, then all the tradeoffs (and there are many) could be worth it. Considering that the reviews across the board from Car & Driver to Consumer Reports have pretty much said the same thing. When freaking Consumer Reports considers a vehicle too slow and too cramped, that is reason for concern.

Underpowered, unsafe, and inefficient. The Smart would only be smart if it got 60+ mpg, in the city. Why they don’t make a hybrid diesel version is beyond me, that would be genius.

I have read several reviews of the so-called Smart Car and here is the synopsis:

-This car doesn’t have an automatic transmission or a manual transmission. It has something in between. It has a manual transmission that shifts itself. So you will notice a lag in each shift that a lot of folks don’t like.

-For a car as small at this, it uses too much gas. If you are going to sacrifice size and interior space, you should get great fuel economy in exchange. With this car, you don’t. So get more for your money and shop around.

-Check out a Honda Fit, a Toyota Yaris, a Nissan Versa, and their competitors like the Scion XA. You will get more interior room and about the same fuel economy. You will also get either a real automatic transmission or a real manual transmission, not a transmission that has the worst of both.

-The one redeeming feature of this car is that it is easy to find a parking space. I imagine if you live in a big city this might come in handy.

Actually, the Smarts are surprisingly good in crashes-- there’s a video out there of a crash test of one hitting a brick wall at 70 and you can see that the dummy fares pretty well. All of the other criticism is perfectly valid, though. I think a lot of the problems with it are due to the fact that both the automatic transmission and gasoline engine were sort of afterthoughts put in to allow the Smart to be sold in the US market-- practically all of the Smarts in Europe come with manual transmissions and small turbodiesel engines which actually do yield the spectacular mileage you’d expect from such a chintzy car.

Also, everyone says that the advantage of the thing is that it can fit in small parking spaces, but can anyone think of a US city where parking works like that? In every city I’ve ever lived in, either something’s a parking space that’s big enough for at least a mid-sized car or it’s illegal to park there. I gather that in Europe, often the parking situation is more anarchical and that there’s actually spots that only a micro-car can fit in, but I don’t think there’s any of those in the US.

GreasyJack makes a good point that further reinforces the idea that the Smart car may be smart for Europeans, but is not necessarily a good choice for those of us living in North America.

Also, everyone says that the advantage of the thing is that it can fit in small parking spaces, but can anyone think of a US city where parking works like that?

Yes, I can think of many cities where parallel parking is used and cars sometimes park close enough to leave room for a Smart Car but not a larger car, especially in downtown areas. Here is a partial list:

-New York, NY
-Buffalo, NY
-Dallas, TX
-Austin, TX
-Houston, TX
-San Antonio, TX
-Atlanta, GA
-Jacksonville, FL
-Saint Augustine, FL
-Daytona Beach, FL
-Tampa, FL
-Miami, FL
-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
-Key West, FL
-Carbondale, IL
-Champagne, IL
-Chicago, IL
-Los Angeles, CA

Almost every city with a downtown area uses parallel parking.

But parallel parking without any actually delineated parking spaces? I guess you usually see the “park wherever you want to” parallel parking out in more of the outlying residential areas, but I can’t think of seeing a city where the central business district doesn’t have actual marked out parking spaces and/or parking meters which dictate a set number of spaces. In pretty much every city, you can get a ticket for parking in the “extra space” left by other cars because it makes it hard for the other cars to get in and out and it leads to inefficient use of street space.

It’s not to say that maybe cities will revamp their parking schemes to have actual micro-car parking spots if they get more popular here, but for now the parking advantage of the Smart is very limited in most US cities.