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NHTSA Warns on Smart Crash Tests

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Smart's fortwo city car is on sale -- and playing hard to get, if our informal poll of dealers is holding true nationwide. But the government's car safety agency is sounding a warning over the fortwo's crash-test performance, the Associated Press reports.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently performed a series of crash tests on the new two-door microcar, which is being sold in the U.S. by Daimler AG for the first time. The smart performed well in frontal and rear crashes, earning a four-star rating for driver crash protection and three stars for passenger crash protection.

For the side-impact tests, the NHTSA awarded the car five stars -- with a caveat. During testing, the two-door's driver-side door popped open. That, the NHTSA says, could lead to a person being thrown from the vehicle. The side-impact test measures only the car's ability to withstand the impact itself.

"Given the amount of attention on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in general and this vehicle specifically, we wanted to try to get the vehicle tested and the results out there as quickly as possible," said Rae Tyson, a NHTSA spokesperson.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a private testing group sponsored by the insurance industry, has yet to report its crash-test ratings for the smart fortwo.

Smart says the fortwo has been designed to get four-star crash ratings and 41 miles per gallon on the highway. The car is under 9 feet long and weighs about 1800 pounds, the Detroit News reports.
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Comments (16)
  1. So much for the smart car...
     
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  2. 41 MPG HIGHWAY is pathetically low and unacceptably low for such a TINY vehicle with an even TINIER Engine.

    I bet that the results from the II HS will be even more damning for the stupid toy which never made a dime of profit over in Europe, where they were trying to sell it for 10 years, since one could buy a far more decent 5 seater for the SAME Price and just as good or better MPG.

    (many cars that pass NHTSA do NOT pass the srticter IIHS tests)
     
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  3. It's not just the gas mileage, it's also the ability to park in places no one else can park in or park two in a one car garage. That being said, I'd rather a small 4-seater with better gas mileage.
     
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  4. The fuel mileage from the smart is really bad all things considered. It's a tiny car with a timy engine, like Ed said. As far as the crash test goes, let me get this right. According to the NHTSA, the fortwo get's 5 star side impact rating, BUT, and it's a big BUT, the door may "pop" open? WTF are they doing at NHTSA? It will be interesting to see the IIHS results.

    And I have to say that I kind of like the smart, but would not own one, due to the fuel mileage for a car of it's size. Maybe there's a nice used Geo Metro out there for me.......
     
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  5. The Smart has a backlog of pre-orders to fill but I predict that sales will drop off quickly. People are buying it as a novelty item and those types of cars rarely have selling stamina. The car needs to get significantly better gas mileage that a typical subcompact and cost significantly less. Right now the only practical reason for buying one is if you live in a city like New York where parking spaces cost hundreds per month and the Smart allows you to share a space halving the cost.
     
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  6. Context would have been useful for this post. There are quite a few cars whose doors open in the NHTSA testing, large and small. All the open door means is that if you might fall out if you weren't wearing your seatbelt.

    "So much for the smart"? Now, really.
     
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  7. It's actually worse than that, because of the plastic panels.

    Not only are the occupants of the Smart at risk, when they get hit, the panels are not just deformed but they may Break and eject, at very high speeds, jagged splinters of plastic panel parts that become deadly missiles for everybody in the accident scene.

    The SMART should be a 100% city car. Its tall design is ideal for city only, NOT the highway on long trips.

    For better MPG, they SHOULD have brought the DIESEL which is on sale in Canada and gets up to 70 MPG!

    BUT since it is a city car, they would do much better to sell it in ELECTRIC ONLY, with the heavy batteries providing, if they are placed under the seats, a welcome reduction to its high center of gravity and resulting poor handling at high speeds at corners etc.

    The tiny $99 deposits, BTW, are REFUNDABLE. That's why they got the 30,000 of them at the start of the year.

    SMART Sales could not have had better timing, with $3.50 gas and over $4 diesel prices, BUT did you look at their numbers? Pitifully low, less than 3,800 units for the first THREE months of 2008, or less than 1,300 units per month. Compare that with 12,000 Toyota Yarises sold each month, 30,000+ Civics and 25,000 corollas. Not to mention over 40,000 camrys and another 35,000 accords, all EACH MONTH.
     
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  8. I'll gladly take my mini cooper, which actually GETS close to 40mpg on the highway (ok, 36mpg @ 80 mph; 39mpg @ 65mph), fits very well in my garage and city parking spaces and gives me 700lbs more impact protection.

    No, I don't get to look like an early adopter of an overpriced golf cart, but I have a REAL car at the end of the day.
     
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  9. The car is just too small and the fuel economy doesn't "match" the size. There are many other choices that will give you better mileage, more safety, and still park in tight spots.
     
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  10. I agree with the comments re the Mini, it is far more substantial, and the new long version (the Clubman) makes it a true 4-seater with probably still 36 MPG highway at 65-75 MPH. And of course it is MUCH more fun to drive around in.

    Another huge problem for the Smart is its terrible transmission, see Autoline Detroit's video interview with the Smart manager and John mcElroy's complaints about the transmission.
     
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  11. I know someone that has a gray-market version. The Euro version gets a different engine then what we get in the States. Even after spending the extra cost to put the smog stuff on it, he claims he's getting close to 70 MPG!!! That's in a gas engine!
     
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  12. "claims" is the operative word here.

    Only the Diesel Smart has a peayer to average 70 MPG, and even that one may only do it in the sunbelt, not in MI winters.
     
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  13. As already said, 40 mpg highway stinks! Add in a 24 MONTH?! warranty and these cars are more about status than actually efficiency. You would have to be an idiot to buy one of these unless you live in manhattan and need a very small inner city car. A honda civic or a fit gets dcent mpg and can haul twice the people and 3 to 4 times the cargo for almost the same price!!! Add in a superior warranty and legendary japanese reliability and the choice is clear! The smart is dumb!!!
     
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  14. Well said, Uh hello. And note that a NEW Honda Fit is coming next year (already avail in Europe I believe) that is even better (or much better) looking than the old one.
     
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  15. The "Smart" is a loser, pure and simple. Not only is it a loser but it is also a death trap. I predict a short life for this monstrosity of a "car."
     
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  16. The Smart's 41 MPG is unacceptable to me, especially in view of the premium gas requirement. I bought a new Nissan Sentra diesel in 1983 & it averaged 42+ MPG for the some 50,000 miles I owned it. I kept a record every gallon bought for the Sentra down to 3 decimal points, totaled it & divided the total into the miles I drove the car until I sold it. This included LA city driving as well as freeway & a cross country trip to Minn. Occasionaly, MPG exceeded 50 MPG. This Sentra was far more car than the Smart is. I wouldn't consider a gas powered Smart BUT if they would bring in the diesel version that gets 70 MPG, I would consider it.
     
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