"It's better than this review makes it appear to be"3.5 starson by timhood
Pros: Fuel economy, low price, operating costs, space efficiency, easy-to-drive, fun--go-kart-like driving
Cons: Slow transmission, rough ride over poor road conditions
Summary: I wondered if the "little old lady from Pasadena" reviewed this car. I have never heard anyone complain that the steering and brakes are difficult. In fact, search online and many owners will tell you that power steering isn't even necessary in this car.
This review is otherwise mostly spot-on. The biggest drawbacks of this car are the slow-shifting transmission and the unforgiving suspension. If the transmission was a dual-clutch, this car would easily drop 2 seconds on it's 0-60 time, which would probably be abou 8.5 seconds. Even though the engine makes only 70 hp, the car is light and the gear ratios are well-matched. The engine has sufficient power for the car--the transmission is masking some of it.
The suspension offers little compliance over rough roads. You'll want to make a conscious effort to avoid the potholes. This could possibly be cured with higher-cost suspension components, but that might price this car out of it's sweet spot. In general, ride quality is not an issue. Sure, it's not Cadillac-smooth, but no car this size, weight and price point would do much better. Unless your roads look like a typical war-zone, the suspension won't be a problem on your daily drive.
We use our smart as the primary car. Whoever needs to drive the farthest drives it. We get 2-2.5x the gas mileage of our other vehicles. The cargo area holds enough for a Costco run and the passenger seat folds down if space is needed for very long objects. 95% or more of our driving (and probably yours, too) is either alone or with one other person. The smart may not be suitable as an only car for a family, but it would certainly work as an additional car. With a very low operating cost (fuel economy, 10,000 mile oil change intervals, low insurance rates), it's a practical addition and a great car to turn over to a college-bound teen.
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