Smart cars, which have been popular in Europe for years, are starting to pop up around the U.S. — including here in the Midwest. (The dealership pictured above is only a few miles from my house.) They may look cute and cuddly, but how smart really are the new Smart cars? Here’s a run-down:
MPG: According to the Smart car web site the vehicle is designed to achieve 33 city/41 highway mpg (according to 2008 EPA standards). Even though the revised EPA standards are giving out lower, more realistic, numbers this one still surprised me. Compared to the Toyota Prius which is listed at 48 city/45 highway mpg and the Honda Civic Hybrid which is 40 city/45 highway mpg, I expected Smart car’s ratings to be higher given it’s size and weight.
Size: Anyone who has seen this car knows it looks tiny. It is only 8.8 feet long and the height and width both measure 5.1 feet. However, according to their site, it provides “as much headroom as most luxury vehicles, and can fit two six foot, five inch plus people side by side with plenty of shoulder room to spare.” There is obviously no back seat, though, which limits the ability to travel in groups greater than two.
Cost: Compared to the Prius, Smart cars definitely are more affordable. The fortwo pure will start at $11,590.
In conclusion, there are a lot of options as to how to lessen your environmental impact by the choice of car that you drive and MPGs are only part of the equation. Just remember that your greenest transportation available is always going to be riding a bike or taking your own two feet.