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Smart car is cool, but may fall short

Smart ForTwo get great gas mileage without a hybrid’s expense but there are trade-offs.

NEW YORK ( — DaimlerChrysler will begin selling a redesigned version of the company’s Smart ForTwo in the United States beginning in early 2008, according to the company. But it will be a tough sell: It’s price is higher than other cars that offer more space, while its fuel mileage is only slightly better.

Optimists point to the Smart’s unique – some say stylish – appearance. Another plus is its relationship to Mercedes-Benz, which brings with it a certain engineering legitimacy.

Called a “city car,” the ForTwo is almost two feet shorter than a Mini Cooper and 1,000 pounds lighter. As its name implies, the ForTwo is strictly a two-seater and storage space is limited. It’s luggage space, at 5.3 cubic feet, is just slightly less than the Mini’s.

The Smart ForTwo’s big selling point is going to be fuel economy. For the current version, the company estimates a combined city/highway fuel mileage of about 40 miles per gallon, according to DaimlerChrysler. (The 60 mpg figure sometimes reported is for the diesel-engine version.)

The Toyota Yaris, which seats four and costs thousands less, gets an EPA-estimated 37 miles per gallon.


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