2012 Green Car Buyer’s Guide, Smart

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2012 Green Car Buyer’s Guide, Smart

2012 model year highlights from Smart: the Smart ForTwo and Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.


Compiled by Megan E. Phelps, John Rockhold,
Hannah Kincaid, Emily Glover,
Bradley Berman and Zach McDonald

See “What the Numbers Mean” in The Ultimate Green Car Buyer’s Guide, 2012 for a full description of the metrics we collected for each model.

Smart ForTwo

Gasoline, Subcompact Hatchback

Price Range: $14,000 – $18,400
City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 34/38/36
Annual Fuel Cost: $1,650 (premium)
Air Pollution Score: 5
Greenhouse Gas Score: 8
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: N/A
Safety Ratings: N/A
Space: 45.4 cu. ft. p.v./seats 2
Drive Score: 2
Similar Used: 2008 to 2011

Good to Know:

  • The Smart ForTwo spent years among the top fuel-efficient non-hybrid vehicles in the United States. But its combined 36 mpg is now edged out by the 37 mpg of the Scion iQ, also a micro-car.
  • Most popular in cities, the ForTwo is convenient in dense urban areas, where it fits in half of a parking space.
  • Smart ForTwo is known for its clunky transmission. Aerodynamics are also considered poor. Word of these problems — and the novelty of the car’s design wearing off?–?have significantly hurt sales.

What the Press Says:

  • “Because of its Lilliputian proportions (it’s more than 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper), safety is at the core of the ForTwo design. … The car is built around a cage of high-strength steel known as the Tridion safety cell, which helps the ForTwo post passable if unimpressive frontal crash test scores.” — Edmunds.com
  • “The ForTwo is difficult for us to recommend. Although some of its drawbacks disappear when you’re enjoying the ‘ForTwo Experience,’ its abysmal transmission, general lack of utility and fuel economy that comes off as unimpressive for its size doesn’t make a compelling case for the ForTwo.” — Autoblog

What Drivers Say:

  • “The gas mileage is the main ‘like’ of this vehicle,” says Robert Garrison of York, S.C. “It drives comfortably. It sits comfortably. I am not afraid because of its small size — it came with an impressive crash test rating.”
  • On the downside, a handful of readers mentioned that it’s expensive to maintain and repair, and that premium gasoline is required, leading to higher fuel costs.

Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Electric, Subcompact Hatchback

Base Price:
Lease only, $599/month
City/Hwy/Combined MPGe: 87 combined
Annual Fuel Cost: N/A
Air Pollution Score: N/A
Greenhouse Gas Score: N/A
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: N/A
Safety Ratings: N/A
Space: N/A/seats 2
Drive Score: 3
Similar Used: Only available through lease program

Good to Know:

  • Earlier models had a top speed of 60 mph, but new models can reach 75 mph.
  • Recharge time on a 240-volt outlet is up to eight hours, while estimated driving range for combined city/highway driving is 62 miles.
  • The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is only available as a lease in a pilot program consisting of 250 vehicles.
  • The car’s lack of size, range and oomph makes its value disproportionate to the lease price of $2,500 down and payments of $599 per month.
  • Daimler, maker of Smart, promises a more powerful, longer-range next-generation version of the Smart ForTwo Electric. The company also says the car will be produced in much higher volumes.
  • Decals for the car use the acronym “ED” to signify “electric drive” — but given its lack of power, some quip that it applies the male malady to the Smart’s power plant.

What the Press Says:

  • “Like many toys it runs on batteries. … Limited range makes it even less practical than the gas-powered version. … Intended for short drives, it is the slowest car available today.” — Car and Driver
  • “The ForTwo Electric Drive has no problem keeping up with its neighbors in stop-and-go traffic. … We wouldn’t be brave enough to try our luck on your average interstate, but for any other type of driving, the ounce-sized EV would do just fine.” — Autoblog
  • “If your objective is to use as few resources as possible going about your daily business, you’d be hard-pressed to find a thriftier partner in crime than the Smart Electric Drive.” — Motor Trend

More 2012 green cars: Find details about many more green cars from other automakers in The Ultimate Green Car Buyer’s Guide, 2012.

Photos from Smart