Safety ratings from the federal government have been restructured for the 2011 model year, and the Smart Fortwo hasn't been tested or rated under the revised procedures. Under the outgoing ratings, the Fortwo earned top five-star ratings for side impact but earned three and four stars for frontal impact.
Ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) haven't yet been extended to the 2011 model, which is structurally similar, but the 2010 Fortwo received top 'good' ratings in frontal, side, and roof strength tests, with 'acceptable' scores in the seat-based rear-impact test.
Smart says the ForTwo's so-called Tridion safety cell provides occupant protection that rivals much larger vehicles. But tellingly, the IIHS crashed a Smart ForTwo against a Mercedes E-Class sedan in a typical frontal-offset collision, and found that the ForTwo did not fare well in a collision with larger, heavier cars.
The seating position in the 2011 Smart Fortwo is on the level of other cars, but without much in front or behind the driver it can also feel especially vulnerable. On the plus side, outward visibility is quite good.