The 2012 Smart Fortwo ought to get 60 or 70 miles per hour, if you listen to bystanders. Its small size and tiny 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine would indicate that it gets better fuel economy than any other car for sale in the U.S. Right?
Not so much. The EPA rates both coupe and cabriolet models of the Smart Fortwo at 34 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, giving a combined rating of 36 mph. That's lower than most Toyota and Honda hybrids, though they're admittedly pricier. But it's also little better than a number of compact and subcompact models with four doors, four or five seats, and a far more pleasant driving and travel experience--which are relatively close to the price of a Fortwo.
Worse yet, the Smart's little engine requires premium fuel, adding up to 20 cents to the cost of each gallon.
A few additional eco-features may tint the tiny Smart slightly greener: Its molded plastic body panels have the color baked in, meaning the cars don't need to be painted. Several interior components are made of synthetic materials that can be entirely recycled.
Smart offered an all-electric Fortwo Electric Drive model in 2011, but it's unclear if the battery model--which had a low electric range and minimal performance--will be continued for 2012.