COAL Update: smart ForTwo A Gas Sipper, Or No?

A country road

In the recent COAL, I mentioned the EPA ratings for the 2015 smart: 34 city, 38 highway, 36 combined. A few comments reported better real-world results were possible.

I had made no effort to check the gas mileage in ours, so I used it last week on a semi-typical day for me. I work from home 2-3 days a week, and make my rounds and “errands” the other days.

I went on 200 mile route (190, to be exact), which had me going by two office locations, checking on a tenant that I was going to have to evict (they were moved out), finding a new “empty nester house” my wife wanted me to scope out, going to a recreational gun range for a while, and getting the windows to the smart tinted.

This was a good test route for the gas mileage. I filled up at home and reset the trip odometer before I headed out. I was on two lane country roads,

An urban street scene

City streets;

An interstate scene

and Interstate as well. I didn’t purposely get the speedometer in the shots (I wish I had done so), but  you can see I’m over 75mph here. In my driving, I kept up with traffic for the most part. I think this is a 65mph zone. It was hot and humid all day, and I had the A/C on as well.

smart car behind a house

I found the house for sale my wife wanted to check out. It’s in a “hip” neighborhood, and while I loved the house, I decided the location was a little too “hip” for us. The driveway was pretty tight; I’m not sure how you’d get any normal size car turned around back there.

I got lots of pointing and waving in this area from people walking and jogging by, so I guess the smart was deemed “hip” enough for the area. Or maybe they were laughing at it, not sure which.

trip odometer in a smart car

So at the end of the day, I returned to the same gas station and even used the same pump, to maybe bolster the accuracy of our math. Filled it up until the pump shut off that morning, and did the same thing that evening. We covered 190.3 miles,

a gas pump readout

and used 4.796 gallons in the process. The gauge in the smart is a little optimistic; it holds 8 gallons and there are eight segments on the gauge. Seems like I should have been reading less than a half a tank.

a calculator readout

Anyway, you do the math and this is what you get. Not bad for a mix of driving conditions, keeping up with traffic, and running the A/C full blast all day. I’ll check it on a similar route this Fall without the A/C.

a man applying window tint to a car

The window tinting was pretty cool to watch, too.  You enter the year, make and model in a computer and the film is cut to fit. The application process still takes a while; the whole job took about two hours. We did the “darkest legal” tint on the doors and rear hatch, and a clear UV blocking film on the windshield.

What’s everyone’s opinion on tints? I had never had tinted windows on anything, until I bought the used 2015 BMW 328i Gran Turismo I wrote up previously. It had a very dark tint when I bought it (too dark to be legal for my state, but it has passed inspection anyway) so it was already there. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made with the heat.

So, when I bought the Suburban, I went to a window tint guy who was a friend of a friend. The rear doors and cargo area were “limo tint” from the factory, but I had him tint the front doors the darkest legal for my state, which isn’t very dark. He also applied a clear UV blocking film to the inside of the windshield.  It’s been great; this is my first full summer with it, and I don’t use vent visors or a windshield sun screen when parked.

It gets hot inside, yes, but not like you would expect, and less so than about any car I have had before. You can touch the steering wheel after it sits in the sun all day, and it cools down quickly (of course, GM’s are always good at that anyway).

The smart will really benefit from the tint, I think. It must have the highest ratio of glass to cubic volume of interior space, of about any car ever made. The A/C just can’t keep up on a 90+ degree day. With 90+% humidity. Which is about every summer day around these parts.

And now, Hurricane Laura’s remnants will be here by next weekend! Stay safe out there, everybody.