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2012 smart fortwo

Overview
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2012 smart fortwo Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 3.6

In America, fads come and go as quickly as reality TV stars. When the news of Smart's stateside arrival reached the eyes and ears of Euro-loving Americans, the subsequent waiting list presaged a bright future for the Mercedes-Benz subsidiary. With over 40,000 pre-orders, Smart experienced the automotive equivalent of crazed shoppers camped outside a local retailer to be among the first to get their hands on the latest Apple product. In the years following the brand's initial success, dwindling sales indicated that predictions for the unstoppable microcar revolution might be a bit premature. And while the 2012 Smart Fortwo returns adequate fuel economy figures, slightly larger 5-seat competitors like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and the Nissan Versa deliver comparable fuel efficiency and superior driving characteristics for a similar price.

You'll Like This Car If...

The Smart Fortwo's tidy dimensions make it the ideal choice for inner city dwellers faced with daily parking challenges. Additionally, if you're a thrifty open-top enthusiast searching for the most affordable convertible available, look no further than the Smart Fortwo Cabriolet.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Between the Fortwo's nervous highway manners and the irksome shifting behavior of its automated manual transmission, driving becomes a chore rather than a privilege. Unless you are married to the Smart's unique European charm, the market offers a crowd of alluring subcompacts with exceptional road manners, additional standard equipment and five seats.

What's New for 2012

The Smart Fortwo receives a modest aesthetic refresh for the 2012 model year along with a newly available navigation system.

Driving the fortwo

Driving Impressions For a vehicle with a tremendously short wheelbase, we found the 2012 Smart Fortwo's ride surprisingly comfortable. The faster you go, however, the more skittish the Fortwo becomes, and we...

eventually grew tired of constantly making steering corrections to stay on course. Similarly, the automated manual transmission swaps gears with all the grace of a farm tractor. On the other hand, the Fortwo reigns supreme in parking lot maneuverability, where the car's micro measurements and sub-30-foot turning radius combine to deliver an almost comical sense of low-speed agility. Although the Smart Fortwo's 90-mph top speed and 13-second 0-60 mph acceleration qualify it as one of the slowest new vehicles on the road, the silver lining is that you get to "floor it" on a regular basis, and no self-respecting cop would ever pull you over.

TRIDION SAFETY CELL
With American roadways chock-full of overweight vehicles, compact car owners are subjected to an elevated level of danger every time they get behind the wheel. Much like a roll cage protects a racecar driver, the 2012 Smart Fortwo's Tridion Safety Cell distributes energy over a wide area of the car for greater impact resistance.

CONVERTIBLE ROOF
To the frustration of countless drop-top devotees, some modern convertible tops are inoperable when the vehicle is in motion. With the Smart Fortwo Cabriolet, you can let the sunshine in – or shut the rain out – even when traveling at highway speeds.

2012 smart fortwo Details
Interior

We've all heard the old adages, "Never judge a book by its cover" and "Looks can be deceiving." When it comes to the Smart Fortwo's deceptively roomy cabin, these redundant clichés hold equally true. There's more than abundant headroom and legroom even for the long of limb in this 2-seater, and the unique floating design of the dashboard further conveys a sense of spaciousness. While the cargo area is quite a bit smaller than a traditional subcompact, it is large enough to accommodate a bag of golf clubs. And if you frequently travel solo, the passenger seat folds flat for additional cargo space.

Exterior

More than just a pint-sized economy car, the Smart Fortwo looks like nothing else on the road. The body panels are made of dent-resistant plastic, and the design element running from behind the front wheels up to the roofline is actually Smart's patented Tridion Safety Cell: a high-strength steel shell that's available in black or metallic silver. To help combat the Fortwo's obvious weight disadvantage in a collision, Mercedes-Benz engineers developed an interconnected steel shell that distributes impact energy rather than absorbing it.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

If you thought the 2012 Smart Fortwo's enticing starting price was too good to be true, you were right. The aptly-named Pure model conspicuously excludes an audio system, air conditioning, power windows, cruise control and power mirrors. "Luxuries" provided at base price include power locks with remote keyless entry, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Opting for the Passion trim adds most of the creature comforts one would expect in a $15,000 new car. Because safety is on the mind of every prospective Fortwo owner, the 2012 model offers eight airbags, front and rear crash boxes for low-speed-collision protection, and a full serving of electronic stability systems.

Optional Equipment

Passion and Cabriolet trims offer practical niceties such as cruise control, electric power steering and center-console storage. Tech options include a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth and a 7-speaker audio system with a subwoofer. Since playing dress-up isn't just for little girls anymore, the Fortwo offers a multitude of interchangeable body panels and a sporty Style Package, complete with retro 3-spoke alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting, dashboard gauge pods, and LED daytime running lights.

Under the Hood

Tipping the scales at just 1,800 pounds (nearly 600 pounds less than a Honda Fit), the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive 2012 Smart Fortwo is able to make its way in the world by means of a 3-cylinder Mitsubishi engine matched with a 5-speed automated manual transmission. Instead of a clutch pedal and a manual shift lever, the Fortwo electronically manages the manual gearbox. On the road, it becomes painfully clear that it is perhaps the most unrefined transmission ever affixed to a modern production vehicle.

1.0-liter inline-3
70 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
68 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/38 mpg

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2012 smart fortwo Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.4
Out of 10

Based on 208 Ratings for the 2008 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.1/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

the company does not stand by its cars

By on Saturday, June 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "decent gas mileage, should be better - 33mpg"

Cons: "paint peeling, engine problems, computer problems"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"We bought two Smart cars when they first came out. The first one ended up having engine problems. Something about the compression not working in one of the cylinders. Then a second one started having problems. Not something that should happen with a car after only two or three years. They refused to do anything about it because we got old changed at an 'unauthorized' dealer. The place we got it changed was at a Mercedes Benz dealership that didn't have a Smart Center, but was recommended by a Smart Center. Too bad, so sad. Then the second one has problems with the paint (clear coat) peeling. I've seen online that this happens with some of the Rally Red Smarts like my own. The company acts like they've never heard of such a thing. No help at all. I would never recommend this car to anyone."

15 people out of 24 found this review helpful

I love this car.

By on Thursday, April 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 131,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Easy to park, reliable, peppy, fun, and cheap."

Cons: "Wear on tires; bulky aerodynamic profile."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"My Smart is an amazing car. It is solid, nimble, and incredibly reliable. With 130,000 miles and still going strong, it has had no problems whatsoever beyond standard maintenance work. I love the price of the car. While my friends are saddled with huge monthly car payments, mine is quite affordable and I got a lot of car for less than half the price. I also find it hilarious that the value of the car drops so quickly after you buy it because my property tax bill is even lower. Every dollar I avoid paying the government gives me a lot of satisfaction. Although it claims to get 41 mpg, I routinely get more than 45 by hypermiling. I have read complaints about the shifting but I moved to this car from a 1985 Honda CRX HF manual transmission and it shifts a lot better than I ever did with a clutch. As it isn't an automatic transmission I forgive that difference in performance anyway. I think this transmission design is more reliable and requires less maintenance than an automatic transmission in the end. I have driven this car on 14+ hours trips every year and I find it to be delightful on the highway. I don't drive excessively fast, very rarely exceeding the speed limit, but at very high speeds and on windy days the car's blocky profile catches the wind in an occasionally scary way. I wish they had designed the car to have a lower profile that was more aerodynamic (which would improve fuel economy), but on the other hand, compared to the Honda CRX which was invisible to other drivers, despite its small size its profile makes it more readily seen, which I am grateful for. The engine is perfectly sized for the car, maybe even a little too peppy. I think the car could afford to give up another 20% of its acceleration to get better fuel economy. I'm not driving any Indy 500 races, just commuting to work. I never have to floor the accelerator because I just don't need to accelerate that quickly, even when merging onto the highway. I have never felt like I was holding up traffic since I accelerate just as fast as the cars in the other lanes (muscle cars excepted). The only cons I can think of after many miles of driving are that the front and rear tires are different sizes so they can't be rotated, and so tire manufacturers only offer half a warranty on the tires, so 80,000 mile tires are guaranteed only for 40,000 miles. And despite getting the car aligned every year, the extreme toe-out angle they use, wears the inner edge of the tires rather quickly."

19 people out of 30 found this review helpful

GREAT CONDITION . SECOND CAR, LOCALLY DRIVEN

By on Saturday, April 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "VERY ECONOMICAL. UP TO 45 miles per gallon."

Cons: "minimal trunk space. NO SPARE TIRE."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Like new condition Red/black outside combo. Red/black inside . Has AM/FM and single cassette. Airconditioning. Tire pressure monitoring system. New Battery installed recently. Only has 10,800 ORIGINAL miles on it 7 years old!."

8 people out of 11 found this review helpful

I have 100,000 miles on my car

By on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power windows cup holders and a radio and ac"

Cons: "Needs hands free phone Bluetooth"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I get on average 40 mpg it drives great in all weather snow wind rain climbs mountain roads with ease I have traveled with it long distance and was comfortable I'm a big women 5'8" and 200 pounds and my husband is over 6 feet tall and about 200 pounds we fit in no problem we also take our dogs with us a lab husky 75 pound dog min pin dog 25 pounds and our jack Russell 10 pounds all five of us get in and go visiting ..I also shop for groceries by the month and get four stores worth of food in the car with pet food you have to have organizing skills but I get it done fairly easy ...love my car hope to have it for many more years and I treat it right so I will"

10 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Very fun little car and great to drive

By on Friday, March 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,145

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "Fun, cute, drives like a sports car"

Cons: "Bumpy and not comfortable for a long ride"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Fun to drive and cute to look at. I have found it to be very reliable. The worst thing about it is the lack of comfort but it is made to drive in the city and not on extended trips. Mine has tremendous acceleration most of the time. There are times when it will hesitate but I have not found that to be a problem. More often it will throw my head back when I take off from a light. I have driven it in the mountains and it takes them like a four wheel drive. It never hesitated or required manual shifting."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

great for errands about the city, and really cute!

By on Monday, March 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
2/10

Pros: "great mileage, great for errands around town,"

Cons: "not the smoothest of rides"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Both automatiic or can shift, fancy tire rims, CD player, automatic windshield wipers, good gas mileage. In other words, all the whistles and bells for a Smart car; does have cup holders and arm rest in the middle. Also included is a sun screen for front window."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?