LAST UPDATED: May 15th, 2021

Quirky little Smart cars were once thought of as a novel design and highly demanded in the U.S. car market. CEO, Nicholas Hayek, imagined the smart car design when he recognized a lack of small city cars on the market. Nicholas was the CEO of Swatch at the time and specialized in personalized watches. In a competitive automotive industry, Nicholas decided to pitch his idea to various car manufacturers and finally ended up working with Mercedes-Benz. The Smart brand name stands for Swatch Mercedes ART to reflect the working partnership. 

Smart cars originated in Europe and were brought to the United States in 2008. These little cars are great for city dwellers who don’t need to drive far but want to fit into tiny parking spaces. The Smart ForTwo and ForFour are named after the max number of passengers. 

A possible disadvantage is that older Smart cars do not have the best handling and some lack power steering. They also have low fuel economy for their small size. Despite a few drawbacks, Smart cars entice a niche group of drivers interested in a low-cost vehicle with small environmental impacts. 

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Attention: New Smart cars are no longer sold in the United States.

The rising gas prices of 2008 was a major factor influencing Smart’s move into the North American car market. However, due to the declining micro-car market, new Smart cars are no longer being sold in the United States as of 2019. The electric Fortwo was the last Smart model to be sold to the U.S. market. Mercedes-Benz dealers will continue to provide maintenance services for Smart car owners. U.S. and Canadian buyers interested in a Smart car should look towards the used car market. 

Keep reading our Smart car review to learn more about the pros and cons of choosing a Smart car or skip to the Smart car reviews.

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The Good

  • Easy City Maneuvering 
  • Smart Car App
  • Safety 
  • Electric Options

Easy City Maneuvering 

The smart car has a small turn radius making it easy to turn around on small city streets. The smart car is also the shortest car on the market. This makes finding a parallel parking spot much easier than with a regular sedan. Young professionals in busy towns may benefit from this city car. 

Smart Car App

Smart offers a user-friendly app to control vehicle functions from your mobile device or apple watch. You can remotely control your car’s climate before going for a drive. The app records an eco score to estimate the efficiency of your driving habits. You can also find charging stations, current recharge prices, and availability if you have an Electric Fortwo smart car. Once you know your destination, you can find available parking through the app saving you time on your commute.  

Recently, Smart introduced the “ready to” app that comes with unique features to help you share your vehicle with other drivers. Vehicle owners can set up private car sharing through the app to rent their car to family and friends. Smart also offers additional insurance coverage when someone rents your car through the app. You can start the car through the app and your keys will be safely stored in the vehicle. The rideshare program can be used to help cover your monthly payments or earn extra cash on the side. 

Safety

A major concern with small vehicles is the safety rating. Small smart don’t stand a chance during an accident with a large or heavy vehicle. Smaller cars will always have a safety disadvantage. However, Smart cars get high safety marks relative to their overall size. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Tests, the Smart car received four out of five-star ratings for front impact crashes and a five out of five stars from driver’s side-impact crash tests. 

Electric Options

Smart offers electric vehicles that can travel over 100 miles on a single charge. As of 2018, the automaker has completely shifted to an electric strategy and no longer produces gasoline models. A new Smart car is a great option for environmentally conscious consumers. However, the price of an electric Smart car is significantly higher than a regular combustion engine. The manufacturing process for a Smart car still emits CO2, but once it’s built, consumers don’t have to worry about further environmental impacts. Smart plans on releasing a new electric SUV Smart model in 2020.

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The Bad

  • Fuel Economy
  • Handling
  • Smart Car Price 

Fuel Economy

Non-electric Smart vehicles get about 33 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway. This is pretty low gas mileage compared to other sedans. The size of the Smart car does not directly correlate with the fuel efficiency. You could purchase a sedan with more space that gets just as much if not better fuel economy. This is a factor to consider if you are buying a used Smart Fortwo. 

Handling

The lightweight and short length of the vehicle makes handling difficult. Especially on windy days, the tiny car does not have the weight to support an easy drive. This may be a factor to consider if you live in an area with high winds or variable weather conditions. 

Smart Car Price

Smart cars are relatively high priced for the type of vehicle you are getting. The Smart Fortwo Cabrio starts at $15,000 MSRP with some of the most expensive models costing $33,000 MSRP. You could purchase a larger vehicle with better gas mileage for the same price. Those in North America are likely to find high-priced used Smart cars too. Individuals must decide whether or not the smart car price is worth it to them. This will depend on your lifestyle and your transportation needs. 

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The Bottom Line

Smart cars offer a unique product for drivers looking for a short commuter vehicle. The automaker continues to innovate to lessen environmental impact and improve the driver experience. The Smart app offers connected car features and a personal ride sharing feature. Smart is the only car company to offer additional insurance for letting another driver borrow your car through the app. 

The Electric Fortwo’s poor performance in the United States has led Smart to discontinue vehicle sales in North America. If you are looking to purchase a Smart car, you will need to look at the used car market. However, used cars leave you with limited options in choosing car color and features. We recommend checking out other small car brands and models such as the Nissan Versa, Mini Cooper, Honda Fit, and Chevrolet Spark. 

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Have you driven a Smart car? Would you recommend it to a friend? Let us know your thoughts and leave us a Smart car review below. 

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Luna Rockville, MD

It is a good choice for a new driver. The small size helps the new driver to park into tiny spaces and travel in traffics. I like how it looks.

1 year ago

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