Last time I reported on my drive in a 2009 Smart ForTwo Passion Cabriolet from LAX up PCH (and then the 101) to San Luis Obispo, CA (more here). The second leg of the trip with the little Smart car was up to the hilly world of San Francisco. For those that aren’t familiar with California, San Luis Obispo (SLO) is about 230 miles from the great city on the bay. So up Highway 101 we went. This is where the gas mileage part of our story comes into play.

As I mentioned in my earlier reports, we took the Smart car from LAX and made our way down the 405 to the 10 to Pacific Coast Highway. Then we stopped for lunch at Malibu Pier and continued up the scenic coastal highway to the 101 and on to SLO. All of this was done on one tank with the tripometer reading about 199 miles when we arrived at our accommodations in SLO. I wasn’t actually sure how far the little car would go, so with a little under half a tank we set off for San Francisco. As I mentioned before, the Smart is very capable of highway speeds and generally you don’t notice the tiny size after while. The answer to the fuel tank range came about 76 miles later.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t want to push my luck, so when the fuel indicator started flashing we pulled into the nearest gas station—this just happened to be in Wild Horse, CA. The Smart actually didn’t have that bad an appetite, though its need of Premium unleaded was a little bit of a Debbie Downer. 7.8 gallons later we were on our way with a tank average of 35 mpg. Shocked? Well, to be honest I was a little because of the cars fairly small engine and small size. However, the EPA estimates are 33/41 city/highway and we do have to admit to being in stop and go traffic in Santa Monica and getting onto the 101 further up the coast. The good news, the mileage is right in line with the estimates. The bad news, it makes the Smart a hard sell for commuters, even in the city with respect to gas mileage. For the entry-level price you can get similar gas mileage out of cars like the up and coming 2011 Ford Fiesta, which is rated at 40 mpg on the highway.


Tune in next time when we get to our story of sitting at the top of Divisidero in San Francisco at a complete stop and how the Smart car handled the adventure. We also put parking the Smart to the test while in the city.