Like most Smart drivers posting on this site, I’m loving my car. While fuel economy was a major motivation behind its purchase, I have to admit that lower fuel prices have allowed me to rationalize that it’s okay to “drive it like I stole it.” So instead of easing my way around town, I’m having a blast with the paddle shifters and tachometer... winding out each gear and leaving surprised SUV drivers behind. The stereo is fantastic and the ride is better than expected. Until this week, the big “unknown” was whether I would be able to drive for hours in something so small.

Monday afternoon I drove from my home in Lindenhurst, IL five and one-half hours to Saint Louis, Missouri... returning Tuesday evening. That’s over 600 miles in a 24-hour period. While cruise control would have improved the experience significantly (I eventually plan on installing one of the after market options), I am happy to report that the car is quite capable of a long highway trip. Once I escaped Chicago’s horrible road surfaces (some of the worse in the country from my experience), the ride was relatively comfortable. I was able to drive over three hours at a hop without feeling completely cramped and uncomfortable.

The car has no problem maintaining highway speeds (to the contrary, I had a hard time driving it under 75... anything less felt like I was holding it back!). Acceleration up on ramps or passing trucks also was no problem, although I tend to switch into manual shift when anticipating anything demanding so that I have more control). Even with a strong head wind and pretty aggressive speeds, the car averaged 38 mpg for the trip. (I’ve had 40+ mpg at more reasonable speeds, but what fun is that?) And you’d think I was driving an exotic Italian sports car for all the attention the car got.

All in all the car passed the test with flying colors. The fear that I would not be comfortable in the car for long drives has proven to be unwarranted. I may wait to drive it nine hours to our place in Eastern Tennessee until after installing cruise control, but in the mean time I’m happy as a clam.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Comment by Kathy on November 28, 2008 at 1:04am
I installed an OME cruise control that I got from Smartie Parts in Canada for my 450 and I love it. Because it was original manufactured equipment it was extremely easy to install. It replaced the wiper switch (looks the same except there is a round button on the end) Not only is it a cruise control, but you can set it as a govenor so you don't go too fast when you are tooling along on the open road. You can also set it to disable the gas peddle when you park it so even if someone gets your key they won't be able to drive it! They do make a cruise for the 451 also. It was expensive but well worth it. The address for Smartie Parts is http://www.smartieparts.com/shop/ Have fun - My rides to Cleveland from Columbus are much easier on my knees now.
Comment by SPDickey on November 27, 2008 at 2:26pm
Back in 2005 a bunch of us took some 450 smarts from Zap in Northern California to New York City for the NY Auto Show. We drove the long way down through Texas. Got pulled over in West Texas for going a bit over 90 mph (our usual cruising speed). No ticket, just a warning. But he did write it up and we have the radar proof! The govenor kept the car from going faster than 92 or so, but it had more power left. Too bad ZAP was such a fraud, but the car was great!
Comment by Nancy & Gary on November 26, 2008 at 9:59pm
Sounds like the car is working out well for you. That is great. I am so in love with my purple passion. The car drives its best right around 45 mph here in town and I just know that I am going to get stopped soon but it doesn't want to go any slower. Not so sure the cop is going to believe that Ha! Nancy & Gary in Vegas
Comment by Eric on November 26, 2008 at 9:51pm
Allow me to share with you a really sweet experience with Mr. Blue. Me and a friend were on a return trip from West Virgina after a singles retreat we attended. We were having a blast, and i was going 70-75 easliy on interstate 81, and then i seen people passing me up giving me the usual look all of us get when a Smart has been seen. Low and beold we both see this Jaguar XJ3 coupe about to pass us up, and then i get a look at the owner and he turns to me shaking his head back and fourth as if he was in disbelief. That was totally priceless, and needless to say we were both laughing our heads off as he sped off.
Comment by SailorJ on November 26, 2008 at 8:39pm
Awesome! Great report. Glad to see you're getting close to 40 when you're driving it like it's on the autobahn... :-D

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