Smart Deemed Safe. Kinda.
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.
Having to pay Mercedes dealership rates to maintain/fix these things pretty much removes any remaining argument to buy one in my mind.
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.
"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!!
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.