• Ed Posted: 5/21/2008 5:37pm PDT

    Urban Jokes like the Smart (or Dumb, according to viewpoint) may be safeR than we thought, but they sure are not even marginally safe on US Highways.
    The Smart offers neither sufficient (far from it!) passive safety Nor sufficient Active safety, on US highways dominated by 5,000 lb SUVs and Minivans and Pickup trucks.
    The crash test results are comparisons between the Smart and cars near the Smart in weight and dimensions, NOT the cars it will encounter on the highway.
    For half the $18,000 you pay (thru the nose, if you ask me) to get this toy Smart with its god-awful transmission, you can buy, as long as you do not drive too many miles and/or you can afford the gas, a "Magnificent 7" 1998-2001 BMW 740i or IL, and have the best of both worlds:
    Both tremendous passive safety, with its 6 airbags and heavy weight and strong cage and plenty of crumble zones in front and back,
    AS WELL AS, and more important, tremendous PASSIVE SAFETY, with its excellent, powerful 4.4 lt V8, its outstanding handling, and its long, low and wide stance, plus all the high-tech systems such as ABS, Stability control, Yaw control, etc etc,
    That will come in very handy when you approach an accident site on the highway, at high speed, and need to maneuver around it..
    The Smart has had excellent timing to enter the US market, and may keep being popular if $4 and $5 gas persists, but for ten years it did not make a dime in Europe, despite the $6-9 gas there, because one could buy a real car, with 5 seats and a real trunk, and with far better active and passive safety than the smart, a 2-seater with a mickey-mouse trunk, For the SAME $.

  • Ed Posted: 5/21/2008 5:38pm PDT

    I meant "as well as tremendous ACTIVE safety" the second time above

  • Chris Posted: 5/22/2008 1:42am PDT

    A 740i or iL instead of a Smart?? Apples and oranges, LOL... Why not compare the Smart to, say, a Yaris or a Fit instead?

  • Chris Posted: 5/22/2008 11:10am PDT

    Although I agree that there are plenty of used cars in that price bracket that provide more safety, I don't think someone shopping for a Smart will cross shop with an 8 year old 7 series. Maybe you should take a look at the local gas station, last I checked prices were inching over $4 a gallon. Seems to me like an 8 year old BMW with a large V8 isn't going to even remotely compare with a Smart when it comes to fuel mileage.
    The Smart is the perfect car for city folk. It provides far more utility then a scooter, but is very easy to park in a tight spot and gives great mileage. I think it is stupid to even consider a large BMW or like for city use. That would be a waste of resources and space.
    I do however agree that it is not the ideal highway car and I suspect most people will not be using it for that.

  • Ed Posted: 5/22/2008 3:36pm PDT

    "Chris
    May 22nd, 2008 - 12:42 am
    A 740i or iL instead of a Smart?? Apples and oranges, LOL… Why not compare the Smart to, say, a Yaris or a Fit instead?"
    Yes, they were apples and oranges, the point being you can get a great car for half the $ people pay to get a Smart, if you don't mind used and you do can afford the gas (either do too few miles or get reimbursed-business travel or..)
    I did mention the Smart vs small 5-seater comparison in Europe, and I attributed the Smart's failure there for 10 years running, to make a profit, to the fact that one can by a Fit or yaris- sized 4-5 passenger hatch that for the same $ and have a real car one can use city or highway, with an excellent transmission, not the atrocity on the Smart.

  • Ed Posted: 5/22/2008 3:43pm PDT

    "Chris
    May 22nd, 2008 - 10:10 am
    Although I agree that there are plenty of used cars in that price bracket that provide more safety, I don’t think someone shopping for a Smart will cross shop with an 8 year old 7 series. Maybe you should take a look at the local gas station, last I checked prices were inching over $4 a gallon."
    I am fully aware and they may even top $5 soon, Diesel is almost at $5. But there are many people, like me, that do not have to drive a lot of miles, esp. commuting, I should walk every day the 1 mile (1.5 if i drive) to work. I also have many long trips that are reimbursed at a lucrative $.505 per mile currently, while I get 22-24 MPG with the BMW on the highway at high speeds.
    I brought up the comparison to underline passive and active safety. Hoiw much is your life worth? How much are you going to save by paying thru the nose to get a tinny subcompact that barely gets 40 MPG on the highway? Does it justify the risk to your life and the lives of your family?
    "Seems to me like an 8 year old BMW with a large V8 isn’t going to even remotely compare with a Smart when it comes to fuel mileage."
    Of course, in the city, but on a long trip the smart will barely get 40 MPG anc carry ONE person plus luggage, while the BMW will carry two persons plus all their luggage and get 44 MPG (PERSON-Miles per gallon). It can even carry four plus luggage, maybe at 80 person-miles per gallon!)
    "The Smart is the perfect car for city folk."
    The perfect car for city folk is no car at all. Most large cities, and small too, have excellent public transport, and you can walk the shorter distances and improve your health too.
    " It provides far more utility then a scooter, but is very easy to park in a tight spot and gives great mileage."
    given the Smart's tiny diomensions and even tinier engine, the MPG is ATROCIOUS. (EPA 33 and 40!)
    " I think it is stupid to even consider a large BMW or like for city use. That would be a waste of resources and space.
    I do however agree that it is not the ideal highway car and I suspect most people will not be using it for that."
    after reading all of the above in my reply, I am sure you will think again.

  • Paul Posted: 5/22/2008 6:44pm PDT

    Interestingly enough, I just finished a call with someone picking my brains about what to buy for her daughter, an admittedly lousy driver. I have to tell you, if I'd have made the case, she'd have gone for the Crown Vic (no, not a 7-er, but still one big honking beast), rather than a smaller vehicle. So comparing big v small is a significant consideration for many buyers, even at $4 a gallon.
    And while I didn't provide the specific numbers for every segment, there was and continues to be a clear progression in the vehicle death rate, from large to small. The gap between the extremes has shrunk, but it is still there. So, if you don't go to check the specifics on an individual vehicle,you can still expect a slightly better number for a C/D than a C, and a C versus a B-segment vehicle, and so on.
    Paul

  • Dave Posted: 5/23/2008 8:51am PDT

    Paul,
    Unlike the frontal crash test, where the energy input is the kinetic energy of the test car, and thus is dependent on car size, the side crash test energy input is the same for all cars. The intent is to simulate a high-bumpered SUV at a specific speed. The Crown Vic has an IIHS rating of P (M with side airbags) while the Smart has a G rating. An IIHS official was quoted as saying that you would do much better in a Smart than a Crown Vic in a side collision.

  • Ed Posted: 5/23/2008 9:12am PDT

    The crown vic will provide the passive safety (but not the active) and people tell me they get 30 mpg highway with it, but are very disciplined setting the cruise at the speed limit on flat indiana roads. And they have a whole family in it.
    Paul, Thanks for making my point about safety. Of course, if big trucks and large SUVs were not around, I'd feel safe in an Accord or even Civic. (in Europe)