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The Smart Car vs. My Toyota

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 7:05 AM on May 14, 2008

I read an article this morning touting the safety of the Smart Car, the tiny two-person, just shy of 9-foot car in production by Daimler. The Smart twofer did well in crash tests, achieving an overall rating of “good.”

But that’s not what caught my attention about the article. No, what caught my eye was the touted gas mileage the Smart twofer gets. “Up to” 31 mpg in the city, and 40 on the highway. We all know those factory-touted numbers are inflated; actual mileage is usually 3-5 points less. This means the Smart twofer, in reality, probably gets about 28 or 29 mpg city, and 37 or 38 highway.

Color me not impressed. My 1989 Toyota Corolla Wagon regularly gets 30 mpg in the city, and 40 on the highway. That’s with the air conditioner running! And I can fit four people easily in my Toyota, and carry cargo as well. I’m not sure what my Toyota is supposed to get in mileage, I just know that in the year and a half I’ve owned it I’ve been happy with the mileage it gets.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting awfully tired of hearing “gets 25 miles to the gallon” like that’s a good thing. My 1967 four-door Ford Fairlane got 25 mpg city, and that was back in the early 80′s. When they can start advertising 50 miles to the gallon, or at the very least, 40 miles to the gallon, in most cars, we’ll be getting somewhere.

In the meantime, I’m growing less and less impressed with the Smart Car. It’s not cheap to buy, and doesn’t get good enough miles per gallon to even pay for that extra cost over the years you would own it. I’ll stick with my Toyota, thanks.

7 Comments

  1. From Mike Wills at 8:06 am on May 14, 2008

    My Chevy Impala regularly got 30-32 MPG and that was the larger 3.8 engine. My parents have a newer model of the same car and smaller engine and have gotten up to 35 MPG on their trips across the country.

    My problem is people who buy trucks and SUVs (who don’t NEED them) and complain about the gas prices. I own a Chevy Equinox so I can tow a boat or a pull a trailer when I need to. (Yes, I have done this several times.) Our SUV gets around 20 MPG, with the prices going up, we drive the older car more now.

    Anyway, hearing those numbers on the Smart Car, it isn’t worth it. I’ll stick to the larger cars that get similar mileage.

  2. From unclejerry at 8:17 am on May 14, 2008

    I’ve got a 2001 Honda Shadow motorcycle that gets between 50 and 55 mpg. How come you never see motorcycles mentioned in articles about how to save or get better gas mileage? Looking around on my way to work, or just about any where, it seems to be just one person traveling in each car. A motorcycle/scooter would be a great alternative to rising gas prices, less pollution (maybe a little noise pollution, but that never killed anybody) and would cut down on traffic congestion.

  3. From (e) at 3:29 pm on May 14, 2008

    I have a 2003 Toyota Celica GT-S. That’s the six-speed manual. I used to drive like a bat-outta-hell and got crappy gas mileage. I now drive like a winded grandparent. heh. Sticking to the speed limit. No more jackrabbit starts. Basically hypermiling without getting extreme about it. My EPA is rated at 31 on the highway. I’m regularly getting 35-36 MPG with the way I drive. I really does pay to drive sane. And yeah, you might think I’m “wasting” the ability of my car. Feh. It looks good. It drives good, and it’s got it when I need it.

    (e)

  4. From Rob at 3:31 am on May 15, 2008

    I’ve been getting 33-35mpg around town in my Fortwo with the air conditioning going full blast and/or the top down. I haven’t done a road trip yet, but understand from others that 40mpg is not unusual.

    Parallel parking is a breeze. I can make a u-turn into a parking space on the other side of a two lane road.

    The biggest “problem” with the car is that people want to ask me questions when I stop a stop lights and the the car has yet to stop for gas without drawing a crowd.

  5. From Brie Sansotta at 7:29 am on May 15, 2008

    I absolutely CAN’T BELIEVE that those little things only get 30mpg!! I saw them in Europe – they are all over. What a disappointment! What’s the use of having one?

    Well, mayber you can park it around the Wash., DC area – where is there is any space at all to park, you are lucky!

  6. From Timberlandbart at 3:06 pm on June 6, 2008

    I drive a 2006 Scion Xb about 85 miles one way to work x 5 days a week.

    I run the AC when needed and go uphill most of the way home.

    I get a consistant 27/28 MPG. It is rated at 34 but even on a straight away with no AC, I never got that.

    I can fit literally 4-6 foot people very comfortably in it and fit some small bags also, (better cargo room if noone is in the back seat and you fold down the rear seats, it has a 60/40 split.

    The Smart car is not worth it. I had one try to pass me on the uphill road, (climbing to 4400 ft.) and could not even keep a steady 60 mph.

    It was pathetic. The Xb will downshift automatically and can easily do 90mph all the way to the top.

    Also, my XB cost just as much as a “hooked up” smart car. ( I paid 16500).

    If you want economical, go with something other than a Smart car, the MPG, seating capacity, practicalness is not worth it unless you just feel like showing off.

  7. From Tyler Bell at 11:39 am on June 19, 2008

    Don’t believe the low ratings of the new EPA. It is designed to be more realistic than prior ratings, so you can’t compare them directly. Last year the Toyota Yaris was rated at 34/40mpg. The 2008, without any mechanical changes is 29/36mpg.
    Interestingly, tho it’s supposed to be MORE accurate, they overshot their goal. I drove a Smart Fortwo around for a week on vacation. There were long stints at 75mph, and quite a bit of driving around very small towns at less than 20mph. I averaged right around 40mpg overall. I was not trying to conserve gas, and in fact I was putting the car thru it’s paces because I have considered getting one and I had no reason not to drive it hard, being that it was a rental.