Great stuff. As you say, thorough research is key.No personal experience with Carvana, however, having had two Smarts totaled in the past two months (grrrr.....) I've done a lot of shopping recently to replace both. Carvana up here in Atlanta had some striking deals on low mileage Smarts, mostly Pures, but no cabrios.
Carvana reviews were good, but even though they have a local storage lot, buyers are not permitted to go there to see, feel and touch the cars. They bring them to you on a flatbed. If they'd had a cabrio in stock, I might have considered it, however, on both purchases (a hardtop and a cabrio) I was able to find better deals by scouring Autotrader, cars.com, craigslist, Ebay, and even asking here on the SCOA forum. You have to be prepared to spend a few hours searching, asking for additional or larger format photos, and studying those Carfax reports carefully, running your own, if need be. (BTW, here is a free one similar to CarFax: www.vehiclehistory.com )
I happened to notice from a car report that a dealer had had a Smart in inventory since 07/16. I called and chatted him up about the car, including "why have you had it so long" (he gave a perfectly reasonable answer) and "how anxious are you to get rid of it". "Very" he replied and named me a staggeringly low price. I booked my flight as soon as I got off the phone with him.
And, after your research and phone time, be prepared to fly somewhere with a pocketful of cash and drive one home.
My son-in-law wouldn't consider it, so he ended up with a nice deal I found him on a hardtop, but will probably **** himself when he sees I put in a flight and seven hour drive and got a cabrio for what he paid.
It's not the method for everyone, but we've bought three Smarts long distance, including one each via Ebay, private seller, and used car dealer, and have had awesome luck finding clean, low mileage, reliable Smarts after putting in a shedload of online research.
Including 2016s and 2017s?Atlanta is going to be a great market for Smarts in the near future. All the CARS2GO Smarts ended up down here. So long story short, you're going to see a lot of Smarts for sale with less than 10,000 miles on them and still under warranty.