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Orange County, California has some of highest gas prices in the nation. At last check, we were creeping closer to the $4.40 a gallon mark. These higher prices can really dig into any family’s budget. Car buyers are now becoming more conscious of three magic letters, MPG. Yes, SUV owners are now questioning why they need a car that gets 10mpg. Primary concern, of course is safety and the vehicle’s crash tests. Larger automobiles will always “win” in any accident that involves a collision and personal injury. However, a new car has just come onto the market from Europe that just might change the way we think about safety and small cars.

It’s small and it’s called the Smart For Two; only 108 inches long, 62 inches wide, and 61 inches tall. In other words, it’s a small box with four wheels, 70hp engine, and performance that delivers 0-60 in 12 seconds. Size does become somewhat of an issue if you want to take along more than one friend, but then again, how many times to do you see one person in a car on an Orange County freeway? It just might be a great commuter car with a rating of 40 MPG.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS, released its safety report last week and gave the Smart For Two a top marks for both side and front crash tests. It received 5 stars for driver frontal impact but only 3 stars for the passenger. The two main reasons that it did not get a “top safety pick” are that the car is the smallest one they have ever tested. The institute really doesn’t have an appropriate category for this size of car and it doesn’t have good whiplash protection. For a small car, though, Daimler Corporation of Germany really has engineered many safety features only larger cars have.

One reason this car does so well in crash tests is its safety system called the tridion safety cell. The high stress areas are made from steel and during a crash, the energy is redistributed to protect the occupants from major personal injury. Four airbags; two frontal and two side also protect passengers from injury as well and the collapsible steering column is there to protect your head and thorax. They all come as standard equipment.

Other safety features include, ABS brakes which will prevent skidding on all types of surfaces. In addition, the Electronic Stability Program, which integrates the throttle and brake system to prevent over braking and swerving maneuvers. This new small car is packed full of new safety features to protect you from serious injury.

Sadly, with all of its safety features, some insurance companies won’t insure this automobile. They conclude that the category is just too small and they don’t have any type of historical safety data on this new type of car. So if you chose to purchase this type of vehicle, shop insurance before you shop for your car to be sure you have coverage.

As energy costs skyrocket, Americans will eventually be attracted to smaller automobiles. But if you just can’t separate yourself from your gas guzzling SUV, check out for the cheapest fuel in your area.