2018 Smart EQ Fortwo
By far the smallest vehicle on sale in the United States, the Smart Fortwo is a truly unique two-passenger subcompact car with a surprisingly large interior for its Lilliputian dimensions. Through the Smart's price, limited range, and poor highway manners will turn off some buyers, those simply seeking a nimble and easy-to-park city runabout should look no further.
Smart phased out the gasoline-powered Fortwo after the 2018 model year. This leaves only the electric variant, which Smart calls EQ Fortwo.
Now in its third generation, the Smart Fortwo carries on with a tall and narrow overall shape. It stands out thanks to a more rounded front end that almost looks like it's smiling.
The Fortwo stretches 106.1 inches long, which makes it approximately 50 inches shorter than a four-door Mini Cooper, but its cabin is surprisingly roomy. Though decidedly Spartan in base models, the Fortwo's interior features quality materials, a well laid-out dashboard and intuitive controls.
Smart added a seven-inch touch screen to the list of extra-cost options. Alternatively, the free Cross Connect smartphone application provides features such as navigation, trip history, fuel consumption, online radio and even city guidebooks. It also saves the car's exact parking location.
As one would expect, the Fortwo excels in the city, where it can zip through traffic and fit in the smallest of parking spaces. Maneuvering it is a breeze, too, thanks in part to a curb-to-curb turning radius of 22.8 feet. However, it's much less at home on the highway, where its tall greenhouse and its short wheelbase make it a bit darty and susceptible to crosswinds. Crosswind Assist -- a technology normally reserved for much bigger vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- comes standard on the Smart.
Power for the Fortwo comes from an electric motor that draws electricity from a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The motor provides 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, enough for the Fortwo to perform the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 11.4 seconds. Smart quotes a top speed of 81 mph.
Range checks in at 58 miles; that's actually not bad considering the battery pack's small size but the Fortwo is not practical on longer trips.
Fully charging the battery pack takes 21 hours when using a 120-volt outlet. That figure drops to three hours when using a wallbox.
Standard and optional features
Smart offers the Fortwo in three trim levels named Pure, Passion, and Prime, respectively.
The Pure's list of standard features includes a 7.2-kW on-board charger, LED daytime running lights, Crosswind Assist technology, cruise control, power windows, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, a 3.5-inch display in the instrument cluster, and Bluetooth audio streaming.
Buyers who want more can tick extra-cost boxes to add features like a seven-inch touch screen, an upgraded sound system, metallic paint, ambient lighting, leather upholstery, and a panoramic sunroof. There are also several option packages to choose from, including the climate package which adds additional insulation in the floors and the doors and a heated steering wheel.
With full-size SUVs, enormous pickups and gargantuan 18-wheelers roaming the roads, smart knew that it had take special care in ensuring that the Fortwo would protect its occupants in event of a collision. The car was designed from the outset with safety in mind and features a reinforced high-strength steel safety cell, eight airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, traction and stability control systems as well as ABS with electronic brake force distribution.
Smart's move to an electric-only line-up narrows the Fortwo's competitive set. It's the most affordable electric car in the United States but it's also the one with the lowest range. Its closest rival is the Fiat 500e.
Buyers more concerned with usability than compact dimensions can look at the Nissan Leaf and the Volkswagen e-Golf. Both are more expensive than the Fortwo but they offer more driving range.