My Smart Car Review

From Test Drive to Smart Car Purchase

My smart car review is mostly favorable. The review starts with test drives and finishes with my smart car purchase some time later.

A big shout out to all my fellow smart car fans!

Jim McCue at the Round Rock smartcenter

My personal review of the smart fortwo car began when I took my first test drive in March 2008 at the Round Rock smartcenter in Texas, when I was visiting my stepdaughter in Austin.

At this point, I could only do a general overall review of the smart fortwo car, since I only took a short test drive around the dealership. But I already knew I'd be taking my second test drive in Pittsburgh, PA during the first week in July 2008, when I was visiting my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary party.

I had to do my test drives when I could, as there were no smart centers within a 4 hour drive of Boise, Idaho where I live!

Before I start with my smart car review, let me give you some background about my driving habits and needs at that time.

  • I was driving a 2000 Dodge Quad Dakota pick-up truck with a 5 speed manual and loved it.

  • I also rode a 1992 Yamaha Seca II motorcycle with a 600cc size engine.

  • I live in Boise, Idaho which is a small city/suburban community.

  • With rising gas prices and doing a daily commute of 20 miles a day, I began to evaluate my driving habits and what I could change. I felt I could use a commuter car to meet most of my driving needs. But, which car? and then...

  • I saw my first smart car in Boise and simply fell in love with it and what it represented, mainly a commuter car.

  • The more I analyzed my driving needs, the more I realized the smart car would best meet them, namely higher MPG and a fuel-efficient vehicle that meets about 90% of my commuting needs around Boise.

First Smart Car Review Session: Round Rock, TX - March 2008

What I Liked About the Smart Car After the First Test Drive

Smart center in Round Rock Texas, where my smart car review begins
  • The exterior looks of the smart

  • The roominess inside for two people

  • The cargo space in the rear that is big enough to carry 4 or 5 bags or several suitcases

  • Its safety features, such as the tridion safety cell, four airbags and great braking system, which made me feel very safe

  • The comfortable bucket seats and the layout of the dashboard

  • The fact that having the engine in the rear gives the smart great traction in the snow (Kinda like the VW bug I drove in college)

  • The improve MPG of 34 to 41, which is much better than my 20 MPG from my truck

What I Didn't Like as Much About the Smart Car

  • The sluggish shifting with the automatic transmission. (I feel I could live with it driving around Boise, but I have a funny hunch that the 2009 model will have fixed this problem.

  • The need to use expensive premium fuel

  • Missing cruise control and tilt steering (Boy, am I spoiled or what?!)

By the way, I would seriously consider buying the 84 horsepower turbo engine if it was offered in the U.S. (maybe this will happen).

To summarize my smart car review, I think the smart is the car of the future and it makes a statement that I want to make. Which is: "I can drive around in a small fuel-efficient car that satisfies most of my driving needs and uses less gas, pollutes less and takes up less space. This smart fortwo car is good for U.S. and is good for the environment!"

Bottom line: I put my $99 reservation on the Passion Coupe model and hope to get a call next spring when the 2009 model will be available.

Updates to Original Smart Car Review

Getting a new smart car in 2008 was a long process, so my reviewing continued over many months...

Second Smart Car Review Session: Pittsburgh, PA - July 2008

The Pittsburgh smart center

This phase of my smart car review began when I went back home to Butler, PA over the July 4th holiday and stayed a week to visit with my family. While I was back east, I visited the Pittsburgh Smartcenter with my wife and brother and test drove the smart fotwo for the second time, coming away even more impressed than on the first round!

Sales Rep, Nichole Butler, did a great job showing me a few features, along with taking me out for the test drive. I spent a lot of time inspecting the showroom smart cars fortwo to get a really through feel of what the fortwo smart car has to offer. My goal on this second test drive was to take the smart car out on the commuter highways of Pittsburgh and see how it performs.

I was very happy with the handling and performance of the smart car. It's a great commuter vehicle that gets the job done and is fun to drive.

I've got smart car fever so bad after driving in one for about 20 minutes that I'm seriously considering adding my name to the Lindon, Utah smartcenter's "orphan" list so I can "adopt" a smart car fortwo that did not get picked up by the person who ordered it. I just don't know if I can wait until my ordered smart car arrives many months from now!

Read more about my Pittsburgh smart car test drive and review here

Bottom line: I loved the smart car's riding ability on the commuter highway after my Pittsburgh test drive!

Smart Car Review Sadness: Letting Go - March 2009

My smart car finally arrived in Portland, Oregon this month! But I can't accept it. I'm currently out of work and I'm not sure when that will change, as I've been struggling with figuring out which direction to take my fairly new teaching career after 3 miserable years teaching at the high school level.

But don't take that as a sign I've lost my passion for the smart fortwo car. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though I had to turn down this smart car, I still fully intend to get one when I am once again employed. The smart car review is still positive!

Smart Car Review Happiness - Got One! - September 2009

Taking delivery of our smart fortwo car

Life is good! I got a new teaching gig at a local community college and I've finally found my teaching calling. These are students who actually want to learn. The college is booming and I'm in the running for a full-time job there (currently on part-time adjunct status).

So, I decided it was time to start looking at smart cars once again... and everything has changed, as far as supply. Many smartcenters now have smarts on their lots that they can't get rid of, thanks mostly to the downturn in our economy over the last year. I found one at the Salt Lake City area (Lindon, UT) smart center that had all the features I wanted (except color), so I bought it! Attractive loan pricing (4.2%) helped seal the deal.

So, now that I owned a smart fortwo, my smart car review hasn't changed... I simply love driving this car and with 400 miles on it already from the trip home to Boise, I am well and truly hooked. It handles well on the highway and gets 40 mpg. I'll be using it every day to commute the 40 minutes to my new teaching job and I'm looking forward to it.

Here's a video of the day we went to pick it up:

Hint: If you click that little up pointing white triangle in the bottom right corner of the video frame, you can also view the other videos in this series.

Final Smart Car Review Update - November 2009

My portable smart car office

Well, I've been driving my smart car for a couple of months now, and I have to tell you... I love it even more than I ever thought I would! I am a smartie, through and through!

During the school day, I have a big gap between classes, so I use my smart car as a sort of mobile office, while I prepare for my afternoon classes, as you can kind of see from the picture here.

The car is so much roomier inside than you can imagine by looking at it from the outside. You really have to experience it to understand. We go places with our 3 dogs (yes, 3!) all the time and they fit inside our smart (along with my wife, Kathi) just fine.

Picture of a dog in a smart car

Our 50-pound black lab, Cheyenne, lies or sits in the hatch area, with my mother-in-law's 10-pound shih tzu, Molly. And our Boston terrier, Gizmo, sits on Kathi's lap (because he considers himself too special to sit in back with the other dogs). Smile

We also use the smart car for all of our weekly grocery shopping expeditions and can easily fit 6 bags of groceries in the hatch, along with a box of wine (for Mom) and/or a 12-pack of soda, and maybe a few other assorted items. No problem. I truly love this car!

Kathi's Korner: My Smart Car Review

Kathi in front of the smart car

Hi... Jim's wife, Kathi, here. You may have read elsewhere in this site that I make occasional contributions here, while also serving as the overall webmaster and copyeditor. I thought Jim's readers might like to read a brief smart car review from someone who was not as "sold" on the smart car as Jim has always been. So, here goes...

I saw my first smart car fortwo in London, when visiting my daughter when she was on a "semester abroad" in college, back in 2004, I think. In fact, I saw dozens of them. They were everywhere there. London taxes big vehicles, so actually, ALL I saw in London were small cars like the Mini Cooper and smart cars. The smarts in London all seemed to have wraps on them, advertising businesses and what not.

One of the things that amazed me was how they would park perpendicular to the curb, rather than parallel... and they fit. I thought they were adorable, but I never thought much about them after that, until Jim started up with his "obsession." Smile

Smart cars in London
Photo on right courtesy of tandemracer/Flickr

So, anyway, although I thought they were kind of cute, I wasn't nearly as intrigued by them as Jim. But he loved them so much, that when we were in the market for a new car, I went along with him. And I went with him to pick it up. Well... I have to tell you, I love this little car almost as much as Jim does, now!

I've driven it around town and on the highway, and like Jim says, it handles great. I'm a small person (under 5 feet), so I love that it's not a huge vehicle to maneuver around. But at the same time, it's plenty roomy inside. And I love how you sit high, so you don't feel like you're in a tiny vehicle out on the road, not even when you're next to all the big SUVs and pickups they drive out west. So my smart car review is definitely a stamp of approval, as well!

Back to Jim... Hope you've enjoyed reading this lengthy smart car review (or should I say series of smart car reviews?) from me and my wife. If you're in the market for a 2-seater, gas-powered fuel-efficient vehicle, you can't go wrong with a smart fortwo car. Highly recommended.

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Welcome to the site! I'm Jim, and I'm here to guide you through a journey of smart car discovery. So, look around & drill down as much as you want to for all the smart fortwo details you're looking for. Read and interact! And feel free to contact me!

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