By on May 14, 2008


According to the AP [via Yahoo! News], the diminutive 2008 smart fortwo received an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rating of "good" in both front- and side-impact testing. It's the IIHS' highest rating. However, the IIHS pointed out that "the front-end test scores can't be compared across weight classes, meaning a small car that earns a good rating isn't considered safer than a large car that did not earn the highest rating." Still, "all things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better," says IIHS president, Adrian Lund. Meanwhile, U.S. government crash tests gave the fortwo five stars in side-crash testing, BUT the driver door unlatched and opened. Government regulators say the incident requires them to note a "safety concern," which will appear on the cars' window stickers. More than 6.1k smart cars have been sold in the U.S. through April 2008. "America has never seen a car this size before and their first question usually isn't about (fuel) economy, it's about safety," says the president of smart USA, Dave Schembri. "And that's why we think these results are so very important." So now you know: the clown car is a safe ride. As long as you stay out of the way of Tahoes and Expeditions.

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18 Comments on “Smart Deemed Safe. Kinda....”

  • avatar

    If u play billard ball u can appreciate how the physics of collision works.

  • avatar

    With gas prices continuing to rise Tahoes and Suburbans are going to be going the way of the dinosaur except for those that actually need that large of a vehicle.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    This was the #1 story on Yahoo for much of the morning; conversely, the top Yahoo photo was that of a woman resembling “Jabba the Hut” w/her hand obscurring her giant bosom. Therefore, I guess you can take this story’s relevance w/a grain of salt. I suspect it’s just more free advertising because it’s a Smart; if it were a Focus, Corolla or Accent, it wouldn’t have gotten a write up.

  • avatar

    unfortunately they get worse fuel economy, are less safe, handle worse, are slower, and have FAAAAR less functional space than a Honda Fit, which just so happens to cost LESS than a “Passion” trim Smart car.

  • avatar

    The driver’s door opened in the IIHS side test also.

    The car is way too small in a world of giant SUVs and pickups. Unless they get exported to Russia or the third world, they’ll be around a long time on US roads, even if new sales dried up immediately.

    And as has been pointed out, if you want a small car, there are far better choices for handling, acceleration, fuel economy, interior space, and “road hugging” weight for safety.

    After all the clowns buy their Smarts, where do sales go from that point?

  • avatar

    Lots of marketing, but we’ll find out in time if this car is anywhere as safe as a Civic. I’m betting not, but here’s an interesting but pointless video showing a Smart hitting a wall at 70mph.

  • avatar

    Bigger and heavier is always safer, but that doesn’t mean everybody needs an F-150. I wish some people would take that to heart.

    You could buy an Abrams tank and just mow other people down, but it’s inconsiderate. Same as most single-passenger SUVs.

    If people would buy just one truck and one small commuter car, we would be fine. But I know people who have maybe Chevy Silverado, a Ford Expedition, and that’s it. No small cars.

    They’re harder to drive and make driving a nightmare for anybody in even a reasonably large sedan. I can barely see over some of these cars. It would be OK if it weren’t for the fact that just about everybody drives one of these Goliaths. The Smart? How about if we could just get more people into Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Michael Karesh’s cost study for the Smart will be an interesting read. Last time small cars were popular most folks found increased maintenance and repair costs ate up fuel savings. They were at risk for nothing.

  • avatar

    The Smarts had these Smart gear box that’ll cost arm & a leg to repair when after the honeymoon ( warranty expires).

  • avatar

    i am friends with several police officers; these guys are often the first responders at crash scenes. as we all know so well teenagers are often involved in high speed accidents, and these cops have to deal with some pretty gruesome and heartbreaking scenes (i’ll spare the details). I’ve asked them what kind of vehicles they buy for their kids. tahoes, buicks, expeds, nothing smaller than an explorer were the typical responses. it’s my kid, screw the gas, was the attitude. they point out that if a big car hits a small car head to head the big car just slows down, the small car instantly reverses direction with often devastating consequences for the occupants. so i don’t care what the manufacturers say about this vehicle (and all its mini-ilk) i wouldn’t drive one or put my kid in one.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    My daughter wants one. Her mother says no. To me a Civic is a better economic deal.

  • avatar

    It seems obvious that bigger and heavier is always safer but…

    Many consumers believe that the goals of a “safer car” and a “more fuel-efficient car” are at loggerheads, and that any increase in gas mileage will lead directly to increased fatalities.

    This misconception is based in large part on a common assumption: The heavier the car, the safer it must be. Collectively, Americans have bought into this idea. The mass of the average personal vehicle in the U.S. has gone up 29% since 1987.

    While that idea that more steel equals more protection seems intuitive, it turns out to be false. In fact, the best scientific research shows that automotive safety has nothing to do with vehicle weight, but everything to do with vehicle size and design.

  • avatar

    So, what happens when most Americans are driving Tahoes, Suburbans, Hummers, F250s, etc? They will all suddenly feel unsafe as they’re no longer bigger than the majority of other vehicles sharing the road. Will they demand something EVEN BIGGER?

    Logically, they should.

    Fortunately, gasoline prices are there to inject some rationality into the head-on crash with peak oil production and rising costs. It’s one collision where bigger and heavier is absolutely detrimental.

  • avatar

    For years, Subaru had an add campaign that was centered around the safety afforded by all wheel drive – the idea being that not getting into an accident is the safest way to survive an accident.

    It’s a simple fact that with all else equal, lower mass cars stop more quickly, handle better, and are far more deft at accident avoidance than large SUV’s.

    I’ll agree that if you are involved in a head-on collision, being in a more massive vehicle provides more protection.

    However, SUV’s are top heavy, and are extremely prone to rollover, especially when struck in a side-impact by a smaller, lower vehicle. It only matters because rollover is the single greatest factor associated with loss of life in a collision.

    If you must have mass, I say make it a large german sedan – weighs as much as an expedition, but is lower to the ground and handles infinitely better – that’s safety.

  • avatar

    Having to pay Mercedes dealership rates to maintain/fix these things pretty much removes any remaining argument to buy one in my mind.

  • avatar

    In addition to the other negatives on larger vehicles involved in impacts already stated, it should be noted that these same large vehicles are primarily body-on-frame construction, the inherent design of which is substantially more difficult to incorporate crumple zones.

    The theory goes that although a large body-on-frame vehicle itself might sustain less damage in an impact, the force of the collision stands a much greater chance of being transferred to the occupants than a smaller, unibody construction vehicle designed to crumple and absorb that same impact force.

  • avatar

    “America has never seen a car this size before and their first question usually isn’t about (fuel) economy, it’s about safety,”

    Do what?

    While it might be small, I’ve parked beside old rust-buckets that make my xA look big – no joke. While it might be the smallest in the Current market, that doesn’t mean much, since only 8 years ago a “Large” truck was roughly the size of a modern “Midsize” truck (compare a new frontier to an old 1500).

    As far as the bigger/better thing goes – I feel much safer in my xA and my 300zx than most cars out there. The xA is a very small target and brakes as quickly as a brand new ‘Vette. my old 300 might not be a rocket, but it handles like a dream. Try emergency-swerving in any sports car and compare it to a modern SUV, and then say bigger is safer…

    While there are plenty of wrecks that extend beyond the reach of avoidance, at least with a smaller car (with a low COG), you can safely slow down to a much less dramatic speed and direct the car to the “lesser” of the evils without worrying about a tire popping off the ground and rolling on your head.
    — As far as the trucks go, and a little OT.. what happened to small trucks? I’m dying to get my hands on a mid-90’s nissan D21. Not all of us need behemoths to haul around what we need hauled – a decent I4 with a 5-speed is more than enough for me!!

  • avatar

    As a mission, the “Smart” car is a failure. Hopefully, enough early adopters of this “darling” automobile (fashion statement) will allow MB to address its major shortcomings; i.e. the crappy tranny, inefficient, weak motor and compromised suspension.

    But then, it will cross the $20k mark.

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