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What Should You Know About Smart Cars?

If you’ve ever considered buying a Smart car, you aren’t alone. They certainly have some appeal because they’re inexpensive, and they can be a great commuting option if you live in a big city or somewhere with limited parking.

Now, especially could be a time when you’re thinking about a Smart car if you live somewhere like New York City or you commute to the city. You might have in the past depended on public transportation, but now because of coronavirus, you may want to avoid it as much as possible.

A Smart car is easy to maneuver in city traffic, and you can get in and out of tight spots, but there are some cons to think about as well. For example, a common question people have is whether or not a Smart car is safe.

It should be noted that the term smart car is sometimes used interchangeably with cars that are equipped with modern technology.

In that context, a smart car is one that features things like completely computerized dashboards and other evolving technology.

For our purposes, we’re talking about the brand Smart car.

The following are things to consider if you’re thinking about adding a Smart car to your routine.

Smart Cars Were Discontinued in the U.S.

First, things first—if you want to buy a Smart car in America, you’re going to have to look for a used model.

The Fortwo, which was an electric vehicle and the only Smart model recently for sale in the U.S., was discontinued at the end of the 2019 model year.

Daimler owns smart, and they’d already stopped selling gas-powered Smart cars in the U.S. in 2017, moving only to the electric models.

Smart first came to the U.S in 2008, and in the first year, around 25,000 Fortwos were sold. However, things changed when the company dropped the gas-powered models from their American lineup.

If you already have a Smart car or you’re planning to buy a used one, Mercedes-Benz, which owns Daimler, said they would keep providing parts and service for owners of gas and electric-powered smart cars.

There are around 80 dealers around the nation listed to service Smart cars.

If you are looking for a Smart car or something similar, which is described as a microcar, you are probably going to have more luck finding one for sale in and around big cities and major urban areas.

While Smart cars may be discontinued in the U.S., they were actually around a lot longer than many people realized. Development for the first one, which was made under the company name Micro Compact Car (MCC), was developed in 1994 and unveiled in 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The City Coupe, which was eventually renamed the Fortwo, is only just over eight feet long, and less than five feet wide. It’s around five feet tall.

Are Smart Cars Safe?

One of the biggest concerns that you may have about driving not just a Smart car but a very small car, in general, is its safety profile.

Smart cars aren’t necessarily inherently unsafe, but the issue is if you’re going to be driving primarily where there are a lot of bigger trucks and cars on the road. That could leave you more vulnerable. If you commute for example, on the freeway this might be an issue.

If you do mostly city driving where people are likely going at much lower speeds, it could be less of an issue.

The Fortwo is known for having a good amount of stability thanks to the length-to-width ratio. It only weighs around 1500 pounds, but it also has a fair amount of power thanks to a three-cylinder engine.

To increase the safety profile of the Smart car, it is made with a steel safety cage that encloses the interior and forms most of the chassis. There’s an energy-absorbing crumple zone at the car’s front, which can reduce the impact, and the engine is in the trunk instead of the front.

Overall, a smaller car is almost always going to be less safe than a larger car, however, so it is something to consider.

Smart Car Alternatives

If you’re looking for a small car that’s easy to parallel park and easy to drive, especially in a congested area, there are Smart car alternatives, including:

  • The Honda Fit is a subcompact but it has a fair amount of interior space. For example, the cabin offers nearly 96 cubic feet of passenger volume, and there’s a hatchback cargo area measuring 16.6 cubic feet. It has a good fuel economy and responsive handling.
  • The 5-door Kia Rio is a subcompact hatchback that’s fun to drive and easy to maneuver even on small roads and in tight spots. It features a rearview camera which is now standard, so it’s even easier to park. The Kia Rio is 160 inches long, and there are nearly 33 feet of cargo space in the back of the car.
  • The Toyota Prius c is the smallest of the Toyota hybrid lineup, coming in under 160 inches long. It’s around 20 inches shorter than a regular Prius, so it’s the perfect city vehicle for a lot of drivers.
  • Another car that makes parking a breeze even in the city is the Chevy Sonic, which is also less than 160 inches and has a rearview camera as a standard feature, and optional rear parking sensors.
  • As far as popularity goes, the Ford Fiesta is one of the top picks in the subcompact market. The Fiesta doesn’t have as much cargo room as some of the other options above, however.

If you’re looking for a subcompact car that will make your life easier, particularly if you’re avoiding public transportation right now, you might want to consider something aside from a Smart car. Smart cars are known for being easy to park in tight areas, but they’ve been discontinued in the U.S. There are other options that you may find meet your needs better anyway.