Why I Would Be Stupid Enough to Buy a Smart Car

At least that’s what people I know tell me. Every time we pass by a Smart Car on the road and I act the least bit interested, I get at least one “you’re dumb” look and the inevitable drawn-out “Why??” Here’s exactly why:

  1. Gas mileage: It’s certainly back on everyone’s mind as gas begins to climb back up. The Smart boasts and impressive 33 city/41 highway, which would rival even many of the hybrids out there right now.
  2. Price: With a starting price at the mid 11,000-s, it’s entirely possible that the Smart is the cheapest car available in the U.S. market today. Only a few of the other sub-compacts come close to this price level.
  3. Size: This is kind of a “duh” point, since just one look at the Smart makes you do a double-take on how small it actually is. I believe my wife actually measured the bed of my father-in-law’s Ford F250, and yes–apparently, it would fit. Jokes aside, I imagine the size of the Smart might come in useful when parking, and turning in tight spaces (think garages, drive-throughs…).
  4. Environment: I have no idea if Smart uses any kind of environmental techniques to build their product. Working in an industry that sees people make those claims regularly, I have a feeling 80% of them are marketing “stretches” anyway. But it can’t be denied that a car 1/3 the size of a typical sedan should consume 1/3 the resources to build. Bonus!
  5. Get people talking: At one time, I went vegetarian for three months because it got people to ask questions and be interested in what I was doing. A Smart, being the unusual car it is, would definitely be a conversation starter.

On the other hand…

There are a couple of reasons why I would not buy a Smart Car. They are:

  1. Flexibility: The Smart is great if you’re driving around one (or two people, at the most), with very limited cargo. The problem is that if you need anything else at any time, you’re screwed.
  2. Safety: The Smart has some impressive safety features that would be overkill in a standard passenger car, but are almost required for this little guy.  But let’s get real–if this car crashes into a pickup running a stoplight, I don’t know what kind of chance I stand, regardless of the claims. At some point, the laws of physics cannot be defied.

What do you think–would you consider buying a Smart Car?

Photo by G. McFly

9 thoughts on “Why I Would Be Stupid Enough to Buy a Smart Car

  1. I think the safety and flexibility would be the reasons not to for me. But aren’t these really popular in Europe? If so they must have somehow mitigated these concerns, or perhaps they have a different mindset and ways of handling safety that would allow them to still use these and not feel they are sacrificing.

    1. Well, I think for one the speeds are much lower in areas where they’re used the most (urban setting). I’ve seen these all over Rome, for example, and they have a much easier time parking on the street than any other car.

  2. I think Smart Cars are so cute. I would LOVE to have one.
    However, I have three children, and it would be ridiculous for me to buy a vehicle that I couldn’t transport them in.😦

    1. Ditto, although I thought about making this the “get-to-work” car for myself with a second, larger family car.

  3. My company was very involved with some of the materials that went onto this vehicle. The design is innovative in many ways. It’s also incredibly roomy inside. I have a friend in Europe who is 6’3″ and he owned one and had no problem using it.

    I think in Europe they even have special parking spots for them (like we do with motorocycles here.

    I think they’re cool. I would own one.

  4. Wojo,

    From what I have read, the transmissions are horrible and less than 10% of current Smart owners would buy another one. I think the short wheelbase would be sketchy on California freeways.

    A well rated car near the $11K range is the Nisaan Versa. It can carry four passengers and cargo and it gets great mileage. The Versa is the platform used for the Nissan LEAF.

    Bret

  5. My 2007 Toyota Prius gets 44-50 mph combined highway/ city. I can carry 5 people and have cargo space. Since I bought mine used in 2009, I paid $18K for it. That’s almost half the price of a new one. As far as mechanical issues go, it has a gas powered engine and an electric engine. The maintenance for the gas side is the same as for any other gas powered car on the road. Most of the maintenance I do myself.

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