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Smart Fortwo Cars Might Be Safer Than You Think

2007 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet
2007 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet

I have to admit that I was like many of you when it came to the Smart Fortwo compact car. I thought it was a cute little car, but how could that pint size ride possibly keep you safe in an accident?

After all, I'm like many Americans who has grown up with the belief that bigger is better. Heck, my friend Meghan still thinks a big old sedan or station wagon is better than a hot new ride. So I'm not alone.

So when I saw the results and video of the Smart Fortwo crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, I was pleasantly surprised. The car received "good" ratings on front and side impact tests. And an "acceptable" rating for rear impact crashes. Video of the tests back up the results and show the dummy drivers being protected better than many would believe given the size of Smart Fortwo.

These tests should put an end to the idea that these cars are tin cans that won't protect you in a crash. As I've seen more and more Smart cars on the streets, I've heard friends and others say, "hey, that's a cool looking car, but good luck if an SUV hits you." The fact is Smart is no worse than any other small car. Yes, the incident of driver deaths in smaller cars is higher than in large cars. But to say Smart is more dangerous than other compacts is wrong.

Since going on sale earlier this year, roughly 7,000 Smart Fortwo models have been sold. The company's allotment for the remainder of this year are already pre-sold and Smart expects sales to pick up next year. For good reason. With gas prices creeping over $4.00 a gallon, there are more and more people looking for compact cars. Smart's mileage 41 highway, 33 city, is attracting buyers.

Let's see if these crash test results help Smart get over any lingering "perceptions" that it won't protect drivers.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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