UPDATED- (Speed question.) Well, I finally sat down to figure out mileage on my cross-country trip from Chicago to Arizona and back. We took the southern route (Kansas/Texas/NewMexico) down, and the northern route (Utah/Colorado/Nebraska) back. And...the verdict is...it ranged between 32 and 43 miles per gallon -- pretty much the same as on the flatlands of the midwest prairies, averaging 38 mpg with the air-conditioning running pretty much full blast. This was driving mostly at 70-75+ mph, and mostly automatic, except switching to manual on the fly to handle big hills and mountain climbs. This is also driving with a full load -- two zoftig adults and a week's worth of luggage crammed in the back.

For all you asking about downshifting on mountain roads--I definitely recommend it! The car will downshift on its own if you punch on the gas going uphill, but the car is peppier and more responsive if you switch to manual and downshift earlier--especially if you are trying to pass another car or truck--you definitely don't want to lose momentum then.

Anyhow--I've gotten pretty good at manual shifting now, though in city driving I don't use it much. And, the scenery through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado is magnificent--I recommend a road trip to everyone, and you will leave smart fans in your wake! There's a group of teen-agers in Nebraska drooling after the car, a motorcycle mama in Missouri who said -- "Only two seats--no room for the kids--I want one!", and lots of truckers saying they'd be handy to have to get around town in.

My last tip, if you buy a bottle of that fabulous "Prickly Pear" Vodka in Flagstaff--it was bottled at 7000 feet, and will pop its seal as you go to lower altitudes...so keep it standing upright, in plastic bags, and consider cracking it open early.

Thankfully, the car was very comfortable on the long haul (and I have a bad back). The only downside to my trip was the rock that jumped up to crack my windshield near Prescott, AZ, which cost a bundle to replace once I got back to Chicago, but the team at Lincolnwood took care of it expertly and we're good as new!

Happy Trails to all.

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Tags: Arizona, Chicago, country, cross, mileage, mountain

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Comment by Kevin Causey on December 29, 2008 at 9:39pm
I started to drive my smart from Cave Creek to Flag this past weekend, but wasn't sure how I'd get up the hill (you know, from 2K to 7K in elevation). Any comments on hill climbing with a typical two-person load?
Comment by Larry Agle on September 1, 2008 at 11:22am
I've driven my Smart from Arizona to California twice now. The speed limit in Arizona is 75 and I usually top that by 5 to 7 mph. California is 5 mph lower. With the air conditioning going full blast all the way, we got about 34 mpg. Not as good as I would like, but much better than my Porsche. I get a lot more looks with my Smart, too. Every gas stop (infrequent) people want to know about the car. I probably won't make the trip again until I get cruise control as the old right leg is out of shape for long drives. As for luggage, my bride (of 48 years) and I have learned to travel "lite" so two carry-on sized suitcases fit well behind the seats. All in all, a comfortable ride.
Comment by tommyk on August 31, 2008 at 7:47pm
let's here more about the vodka!!!
Comment by Joey & Joyce Smiley on August 31, 2008 at 5:30pm
Hi Sandrak,
Great to hear about your experience on the long trip. I've been wanting to do the 4-corners of the U.S.of A on my motorcycle but would like to have my wife join me and figured the Smart would be agreat platform to do this. Thanks for the kind words of our beautiful state of Arizona.I feel blessed to have such magnificent views to partake of every day on my way back and forth to work. Glad you picked up some High Spirit Vodka,It's a real treat and makes an awesome Martini. Did you have any luggage strapped to the outside or have it all in the back?

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