Ranking as the smallest car sold in America, the Smart Fortwo typically appeals to drivers who want to take up as little space as possible. That might not sound like everyone's goal, especially since the Fortwo is a two-passenger car, lacking a back seat. Still, it undeniably attracts urbanites who face crowded streets and a dwindling supply of parking spots. As Smart advertisements have shown, a Fortwo could even park sideways, if such a stunt is permissible. A Smart Cabrio (convertible) was absent from the 2016 lineup, but joins the Fortwo coupe in the 2017 model year.
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2017 smart fortwo Overview
What's New for 2017
Last year, the Fortwo coupe got its first full redesign since its U.S. debut as a 2008 model. A Cabrio joins for 2017. A black-to-yellow metallic grille is new, and grille colors are no longer tied to body color. Foglamps now include a cornering function, and all-weather floor trays are available. Pure models gain a retractable cargo cover, while the Passion gets a tailgate storage compartment. A new BRABUS Sport Package for all but the Pure trim level, priced at $1,900, includes a sport suspension with 0.4-inch lower ride height, a stiffer anti-roll bar, specially-tuned damping, and 16-inch front/17-inch rear wheels.
Choosing Your Smart Fortwo
The Fortwo retains its rear-engine, rear-drive layout and two-person interior. All-new styling for 2016 made the exterior look friendlier and more approachable, not unlike the charming MINI Cooper or the Fiat 500. With no back seat competing for space, front passengers enjoy a surprising amount of room. In addition, you can stuff in about 12 cubic feet of cargo, so routine shopping tasks are quite workable.
Power comes from a tiny turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. Unlike earlier models, that’s enough to permit the Fortwo to keep up with other cars in its (low) price class. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, or you can specify a dual-clutch six-speed automatic.
Fuel economy of the 2016 coupe with automatic was estimated at 34 mpg in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway (36 mpg combined). Manual shift drops the figures to 32/39 mpg (city/highway), or 35 mpg combined. Unlike most micro-size cars, the engine requires premium fuel. EPA estimates for the 2017 coupe are not yet available. A tight (22.8-foot) turning circle, curb-to-curb, promises easy maneuverability.
The Fortwo remains available in four trim levels, also offered in the new Cabrio body style.
Optional on all except the Pure are rear parking sensors and a forward-collision warning system. A $600 Sport Package for Passion and Prime includes a sport suspension, 16-inch black alloy wheels, and paddle shifters.
Obviously, a Fortwo isn’t for everyone—most emphatically, not for those who ever carry more than one passenger. Though fuel usage is frugal, it’s not quite as impressively thrifty as its minuscule dimensions might suggest. Early models were notorious for jerky operation of the optional dual-clutch transmission, so a comprehensive test drive is essential before buying.
2017 smart fortwo Review
Ultra-compact city cars might not be the hottest commodity nowadays, but there are still plenty of environments where a vehicle with the smallest possible footprint will fit in. And if you want tiny, vehicles don't get much smaller than the 2017 Smart Fortwo.
Pricing and Equipment
As standard, the tiny 2017 Smart Fortwo Pure (the base trim) starts at $15,400 ($750 destination charge included). The standard features on this model include:
- 15-inch steel wheels
- LED daytime running lights
- Cruise control
- Automatic climate control
- Cloth upholstery
- Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity
- Two-speaker audio system with a CD player and USB port
- Power windows
All Fortwo models use a 900-cc, turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard, although a six-speed dual-clutch automatic is an option. Thankfully, the last-gen Smart's automated manual is dead and gone.
In addition to the Pure, Smart offers three additional trims – Passion, Prime, and Proxy, which tops out at $18,480 – that up the equipment standards considerably. Smart also offers a convertible version of the Fortwo. This is the last year of production for the gas-powered Smart line, as the company announced it will sell only Electric Drive-equipped models in 2018.
- Tiny footprint makes it a breeze to park
- Much-improved acceleration and on-highway confidence
- 22.8-foot turning radius lets you pull a U-turn just about anywhere
- Handles better than we expected
- Still relatively slow at 10.1 to 10.5 seconds to 60 miles per hour
- Standard five-speed manual transmission feels a little sloppy
- Up to 35 miles per gallon combined isn’t impressive for such a small car
- Plenty of room for two people
- Modern features and styling at a low price
- Good build quality
- Unique EcoDrive and Fuel Economy functions that promote green driving
- New Cross Connect app is slow to respond
- Lack of many safety features and limited safety ratings can be unnerving
- Very limited cargo room at just 9.2 cubic feet
The Most Pleasant Surprise
As a small car, we expected a rough ride in the Fortwo, but it’s surprisingly smooth and quiet on most surfaces. What’s more, its handling, while not incredible, is very good for a city car.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Small cars already invoke fear in some safety-conscious buyers, but modern safety features and good crash-test ratings often alleviate these concerns. However, the Smart Fortwo has only limited IIHS safety ratings (“good” ratings in the moderate overlap and side tests) and no advanced safety features.
The Bottom Line
The Smart Fortwo is great for zipping through the city and fitting in tight parking spaces with ease. Plus, its improved ride, powertrain, and handling make it significantly better than the previous generation. However, its lack of rear seats, limited cargo room, price, and average-for-its-class fuel economy will push many buyers toward more traditional four-seat subcompacts.