2019 smart fortwo Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
March 16, 2019

Buying tip

Asking the Smart Fortwo to do anything other than short commutes is too much. Other electric cars are better for day-to-day uses.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo delivers on its promises: two people, electric powertrain, and a city car. It doesn’t promise much else, though.

Europe and Austin, Texas, have at least one thing in common: Smart cars on nearly every corner.

That’s because the 2019 Smart Fortwo can park in spaces that normal cars can’t. Perfect for the busy piazza or a hoppin’ taco stand, we suppose.

Not much else about the 2019 Fortwo appeals to us, however. We give it a 5.0 on our overall scale—perfectly average—but weighted heavily toward its all-electric powertrain. It’s clean, but is clearly short at just 54 miles of range. It’s sold in Austin, and everywhere else in the U.S. but we struggle to see its usefulness outside dense cities. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The Fortwo is small and looks the part. Its cute exterior has a secret: the frame is exposed and can be painted in contrasting colors.

Inside, the Fortwo is spartan and only fit for two.

Its 81-horsepower electric motor is powered by a small 17-kwh battery that takes about four hours to fully charge on a Level 2 charger, but only returns about 54 miles. That’s down on every other electric competitor—even some that come close to the Smart’s $25,000 price.

At least the Fortwo is truth in advertising: just two will fit. The trunk holds just 9 cubic feet of cargo, which isn’t much, and the interior doesn’t offer many cubbies either.

Standard cars don’t have much: 15-inch wheels, a 3.5-inch display for infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity, and cloth seats. Ritzier Smarts get leather upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto compatibility, and 16-inch wheels, but hardly feel like a value.

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2019 smart fortwo

Styling

The Smart Fortwo has style for a little fella.

Cute. Cheeky. Charming. Whatever you want to call the 2019 Smart Fortwo, it has its own style. Its snub nose, small stance, and squat rear don’t look like anything else on the road. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you. We just call it average. It’s a 5. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The basic car is a two-door coupe, but the convertible still sports a roll bar above passengers’ heads. The Smart’s safety cell is somewhat of an exoskeleton, it can be painted different colors to contrast with the body panels. Neat.

Inside, the Fortwo’s cabin is clean and modern, but a little spartan. There’s a little too much hard plastic for what amounts to an expensive two-seater.

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2019 smart fortwo

Performance

Small power, small range, small car. The 2019 Smart Fortwo is best around town.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo is only an electric car this year; the gas-powered version is long gone.

The 81-horsepower electric motor and 17.1-kwh lithium-ion battery return about 54 miles of around town driving. Pushing it up to highway speeds takes time, drains the battery, and its top speed is limited to 81 mph.

It’s a 3 for performance on our scale, it could use more power and its ride is poor, but at least the electric powertrain is the right powertrain in the small car. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The motor and batteries in the rear of the Smart Fortwo drive the rear wheels. That sounds like a recipe for fun (the Porsche 911 has a similar rear-rear configuration) but Smart’s electronic controls quickly tame any whiff of craziness.

The small car handles well but its gift to the world is a very small turning circle—it can complete a U-turn well within the next lane over.

The Smart also can park in places some cars can’t, owners can give each other tips on places to stash the small car in unconventional places via the Smart app.

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2019 smart fortwo

Comfort & Quality

Two people and not much else, the 2019 Smart Fortwo is what it is.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo doesn’t make many promises about utility or space. With two seats and a small footprint, it isn’t especially good for cargo or for comfort. We ring the bell twice for lack of cargo storage and once more for a grim interior. It’s a 3. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We’ve found that tall drivers and passengers can fit within the Smart Fortwo, but long-legged folks may want to remove the tire inflator stored under the passenger toeboard, which can add another 4 or 5 inches of leg room.

The Fortwo rides decently for a car with such a short wheelbase, but it’s still nerve racking for first-timers on an interstate—or even in an intersection.

The interior plastic is basic, but it’s somewhat improved since the first generation.

The cargo area holds about 9 cubic feet, which isn’t big. In the convertible version, without a passenger, the Fortwo could theoretically haul 36,000 vertical feet of cargo. Send pics, please.

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2019 smart fortwo

Safety

The Smart Fortwo hasn’t yet been crash tested, and lacks active safety features.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo lacks full official crash-test data, and considering its low popularity among buyers, that’s not likely to change.

Unless that changes, we won’t score it here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The IIHS partially rated the Smart Fortwo’s moderate front overlap and side crash protection as “Good.”

The Fortwo lacks active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control, which is behind many other cars in its class. Blind-spot monitors aren’t offered on the Smart Fortwo, but are likely superfluous in a car that ends just a couple feet behind the driver.

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2019 smart fortwo

Features

The 2019 Smart Fortwo is an inexpensive electric car, but perhaps not cheap enough.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo is offered in two configurations—coupe and convertible—with a handful of trims between them. The coupe is available in Pure, Passion, and Prime trim levels; the convertible version is available in Passion and Prime trims.

The coupe starts at less than $25,000, before applicable federal or state incentives, but it’s hardly a value. It’s not equipped with active safety features, nor a particularly good infotainment system. It’s a 4 for features because we don’t see value in the small car with a short range. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base, Pure coupes are equipped with cloth upholstery, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, power features, automatic climate control, a 3.5-inch display for infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity. Base coupes don’t offer many optional extras.

Top-of-the-line Prime versions add heated and height-adjustable seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof (coupes), cargo cover, leather seats, and center console for storage. An upgraded 7.0-inch touchscreen with only Android Auto compatibility is a extra-cost item, as are bigger 16-inch wheels. Prime coupes cost about $27,000 and convertible models cost about $30,000.

A smartphone app lets users identify to each other small parking spaces that might not fit a regular car around cities.

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2019 smart fortwo

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Smart Fortwo is a short-range electric car.

The 2019 Smart Fortwo has the right hardware to be efficient, just not enough of it. It’s a 9 on our scale because it doesn’t use any gasoline. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the little electric car for only 54 miles of range. That’s not enough to be practical for anything other than a city car or short-range commuter.

Every other electric car rated for use on public roads and highways has longer range.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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5.0
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 5
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 3
Safety N/A
Features 4
Fuel Economy 9
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