Used 2016 smart fortwo Review
Are you the kind of person that only needs a car in which to tool around the city? If so, the pint-sized 2016 Smart Fortwo might be speaking your language. It gets good fuel economy, and its engine is peppy enough to keep up with the flow of traffic. Plus, it can fit in tight parking spots that most others can't. Find out more about Smart's tiny city car below.
The 2016 Smart Fortwo is a purpose-built vehicle, and that purpose is to give city dwellers enough maneuverability to slice through congested traffic with ease and park in the smallest of spaces. In this narrowly focused setting, the Fortwo is undoubtedly a success. The problem, however, is that most people will need a car that can also competently take on other roles, and in that regard, the Smart isn't nearly as appealing.
First, the good news. Compared to its predecessor, the redesigned Smart is noticeably improved, with more interior space, a smoother-shifting automatic transmission and additional features. There's even a smartphone app that will guide you to small parking spaces set aside for Smart cars in select cities. But longer stints will accentuate the car's many shortcomings, which include a rough ride, weak acceleration, uninspired handling and some significant comfort issues.
With the discontinuation of Scion's iQ, the Smart is left without a direct competitor. That said, there are other choices with broader skills that won't force as many sacrifices. Among these, we suggest the Chevrolet Spark, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta and Scion iA. All of these alternatives are considerably roomier and more comfortable but remain competitively priced and easy to park. Even if you meet the Smart Fortwo's urban-centric profile, we'd suggest checking out the competition before making that commitment.
trim levels & features
The gasoline-powered 2016 Smart Fortwo is a small two-seat city car that is available as a coupe in four trim levels. A convertible is set to debut next year. The all-electric Electric Drive is a carryover from last year and is available in a single trim in either body style. The gas-powered Fortwo's base Pure trim includes 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, power windows, cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a two-speaker sound system with a USB input.
Also standard is the ability for iOS and select Android smartphone users to download a free Cross Connect app that controls phone, audio, internet streaming radio, vehicle information and a navigation system.
Stepping up to the Passion trim adds alloy wheels, black exterior trim, heated and power-adjustable mirrors, contrasting interior upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, an additional storage compartment in the center console and a retractable cargo cover.
The Prime trim further dresses up the Smart with foglights, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats and interior ambient lighting. The range-topping Proxy trim adds 16-inch wheels, white exterior trim, a lowered sport suspension, alloy pedals, shift paddles (for the automatic transmission only) and an eight-speaker JBL sound system. Some features are available as options in lower-trimmed cars.
Options include rear parking sensors, a frontal collision warning system, a center armrest and a phone cradle that positions smartphones in the middle of the dash and allows it to function as a touchscreen controller. A conventional touchscreen will be available as an option later in the model year.
The Fortwo Electric Drive is available in a single trim level that approximates the Passion's features. It also includes a panoramic sunroof. Some features, including cruise control, heated front seats, leather upholstery and foglights are included in packages or are available as stand-alone options.
performance & mpg
The rear-wheel-drive Smart Fortwo's power comes from a turbocharged 898cc three-cylinder engine that is mounted under the trunk and makes 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission available as an option. In Edmunds performance testing, a Fortwo with the automatic transmission achieved a 0-to-60-mph time of 10.1 seconds. That's actually fairly quick for a subcompact and about 4 seconds quicker than its predecessor.
The EPA estimates the Fortwo will achieve 36 mpg combined (34 city/39 highway) with the automatic transmission or 35 mpg combined (32/39) with the manual. While these numbers are good among small car alternatives, it's important to note that the Fortwo requires premium unleaded fuel.
The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive's powertrain includes a 55-kW electric motor and a 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Rated power is 47 hp, but a burst mode allows the Electric to generate 74 hp for a short period of time. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph is said to take 11.5 seconds. Smart also says fully charging the battery with a 240-volt power source will take six hours, which is a long time for an EV. According to the EPA, the electric Smart has a range of 68 miles and an overall efficiency rating of 32 kWh used per 100 miles driven.
Standard safety features on all 2016 Fortwo models include seat-mounted head and side airbags, knee airbags, antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum) and traction and stability control. The gasoline-powered model also gets a crosswind assist system. A frontal collision warning system and rear parking sensors are available as options on all but the base Pure trim.
In Edmunds brake testing, a gas-powered 2016 Fortwo came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet, a much shorter stopping distance than other vehicles in this segment.
As a city car designed to slice through traffic and park in ridiculously small spaces, the 2016 Smart Fortwo fulfills its mission. The tiny 22.8-foot turning circle means that three-point turns will likely be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, outside of these narrow parameters, the Smart's limitations are readily apparent.
Acceleration is sluggish, and it's compounded by a distinct delay of full acceleration after you floor the gas pedal. Under hard braking, the rear wheels react with an unsettling shimmy and momentary lockup from the drum brakes. Fortunately, in normal driving conditions the brakes react predictably. Around turns, the Fortwo's significant amount of top-heavy body roll limits the amount of confidence you'll have driving enthusiastically.
The ride quality is intrusively stiff and the small footprint further spotlights the Smart's nervous nature over broken pavement. On the highway, there's a noticeable amount of road and wind noise. Combine that with the harsh ride quality and hard interior plastics and the Fortwo becomes uncomfortable in a very short time. On short city errands, these flaws are more easily forgiven, but other small cars don't suffer from these limitations.
Despite the Smart Fortwo's tiny exterior dimensions, it's surprisingly spacious inside, even for taller passengers. Because of its tiny size, it also affords excellent outward visibility, though the low rear hatch does limit the rear vertical view somewhat. The materials used are about what you'd expect from an affordable subcompact, but the pleasing modern design gives the cabin a classy look and feel. The speedometer is hard to read, though, and the supplemental digital speedo readout isn't much better.
In an effort to reduce costs and make use of the now-ubiquitous smartphone, iOS and select Android users can download the free Cross Connect app that includes audio control, Internet streaming radio, vehicle information, a parking spot finder (in certain cities) and a basic navigation system. When paired with the optional phone cradle, the phone can be placed right where a conventional touchscreen would be and functions in a very similar manner. Cross Connect's features work well, with the exception of the navigation system, which lacks the detailed directions we've become accustomed to. With several free navigation apps available with better functionality, there are easy alternatives.
Cargo space is understandably limited with the Smart Fortwo. Loaded to the cargo cover, the trunk can accommodate up to 9.2 cubic feet, which is enough for about six full grocery bags. If they're piled to the roof, you can squeeze in 12.2 cubic feet. To enhance storage, there's also a shallow bin in the tailgate and the passenger seat can be folded almost flat to accommodate longer items.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.