If you live in a crowded urban environment, you understand the value of minicars. No, they can't haul sheetrock, and trips to the grocery store become more like social calls, but where parking and (occasionally) fuel economy are concerned, they can be a condo-dweller's dream.
Until, of course, they get in a fender-bender.
To demonstrate, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently put seven mini- and micro cars through a series of low-speed crash tests. The results were pretty appalling.
At speeds ranging from 3 mph to 6 mph, none of the seven received a ranking of "good", and only one--the Smart fortwo--rated an "acceptable". One received a "marginal", and the remaining five ranked "poor". Some weren't even drivable. (NB: keep in mind that in this case, ratings are based primarily on the post-crash repair bill, not safety.)
After four crashes, the Smart fortwo's total repair tab rang up at $3,281, with a weighted average of $899. The Chevrolet Aveo received a "marginal" grade, hitting $4,490 (weighted average: $1,155). And all the way at the bottom, the Kia Rio totalled a whopping $9,380. To earn a good rating, a vehicle would've needed to be fully drivable and have a weighted average bill of $500 or less.
Minicar owners shouldn't feel too bad, though: the IIHS has put a total of 61 cars through the fender-bender test, and so far, 43 of them have been rated "poor". In fact, the fortwo is one of only three--alongside the Ford Focus and the Scion xB--to receive an "acceptable" ranking. To date, no car has been rated good. But then, if you've been to a garage lately, you probably knew that.