MINI Cooper

#3 in Subcompact Cars Overall Score: 8.5 / 10
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2017 MINI Cooper Overview

The 2017 MINI Cooper ranks 3 out of 16 Subcompact Cars.

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop ranks well among subcompact cars due in large part to its performance. A trio of peppy turbocharged engines and excellent handling make it a blast to drive. While interior quality is good, passenger room and cargo space are disappointing for a hatchback. 

SEATING


4-5

MPG


22-28

  CITY


31-38

  HWY

DRIVETRAIN


FWD

HP


134-228
See full 2017 MINI Cooper specs ยป

Pros & Cons

  • Sports car-like handling
  • Peppy turbocharged engines
  • Upscale interior design and materials
  • High base price for class
  • Small rear-seat and cargo space
  • Stiff suspension

Notable for 2017

  • Infotainment system now standard

MINI Cooper Rankings and Research

The 2017 MINI Cooper ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact Cars category. Currently the MINI Cooper has a score of 8.5 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 32 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

Scorecard

Overall: 8.5
Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.8
Interior: 7.7
Safety: 9.0
Reliability: 3_5

Rankings

2017 MINI Cooper Pictures

2017 MINI Cooper Review

By Bryan Siwik August 4, 2017

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop ranks well among subcompact cars due in large part to its performance. A trio of peppy turbocharged engines and excellent handling make it a blast to drive. While interior quality is good, passenger room and cargo space are disappointing for a hatchback. 

Is the Mini Cooper a Good Car?

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop is a good car overall, relying mostly on the strengths of its performance. Though it's not a sports car, few cars as small or inexpensive drive better than the Cooper. It has incredible agility whether it's going around curves or over twisty roads. There are also two performance-oriented trim levels that upgrade the suspension and driving mechanics. The Cooper S and John Cooper Works models have more powerful turbocharged engines than the standard Cooper, which can sometimes feel underpowered.

Outside of performance, other aspects of the Cooper Hardtop are less impressive. Rear passenger space is almost nonexistent in the standard two-door model, but it increases a little if you opt for a four-door configuration. Even though the Cooper is a hatchback, cargo room is very small. That, too, increases in the stretched-out Cooper four-door model. Interior quality is better than most competitors, with accents like standard leatherette seating and upscale surfaces that are soft to the touch.

Should I Buy the Mini Cooper?

Unlike many of its subcompact car classmates, the Mini Cooper Hardtop isn't known primarily for its practicality or value proposition. However, if you want a fun daily driver and have room in your budget, the 2017 Mini Cooper is an excellent choice. With an easily recognizable design and flashy paint schemes, the Mini Cooper also makes a statement wherever you go.

All that fun comes at a (literal) price; starting at almost $21,000, the Cooper stands out in a class populated by budget cars like the critically praised Honda Fit. If you don't mind the Cooper's price and you like its sportiness, you might also consider getting a slightly larger hot hatch like the Volkswagen GTI, or another Mini that delivers more utility while retaining good performance, like the Mini Cooper Countryman.  

Compare the Cooper, GTI, and Fit »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Pieces of Data Analyzed

To help you decide whether to buy the 2017 Mini Cooper, we’ve crafted an expert overview using 32 pieces of data from around the automotive industry. Our reviews are based on consensus opinions from professional automotive journalists, in addition to hard data like crash test results and reliability ratings. In short, we’ve done all the work and research so you don't have to.

For 2017, an infotainment system is now a standard feature. The Mini Cooper's last full redesign was in 2014 and it has seen few major changes since. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 through 2017 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been helping consumers make educated buying decisions about cars, trucks, and SUVs for almost a decade. Our staff has a combined 75 years of experience in the auto industry. We are impartial to all brands, so we don't accept expensive gifts, trips, or incentives from car companies. Any ads on the page are put there through an outside vendor.

How Much Does the Mini Cooper Cost?

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop starts at $20,950, which is higher than any other car in the class that doesn't also sport a Mini badge. Other cars you may be considering range from $16,090 for the subcompact Honda Fit all the way up to $26,600 for the subcompact SUV Mini Countryman.

The Mini Cooper comes in Hardtop 2 Door, Hardtop 4 Door, and convertible models. Trim levels include the base, S, and John Cooper Works. The standard 2 Door Cooper costs $20,950, the Cooper S starts at $24,400, and the John Cooper Works trim starts at $30,900. Cooper and Cooper S 4 Door models retail for $1,000 more than their two-door bases.

Convertible models cost about $5,000 more than their corresponding two-door models. The base Cooper convertible starts at $25,950, the Cooper S at $29,600, and the John Cooper Works at $35,600. A John Cooper Works Mini with loads of options and features can command a price of over $45,000.

A manual transmission is standard in all models, but an automatic is available for $1,250. An automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available for $1,500 in every model except the base trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mini dealer.

Mini Cooper Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Volkswagen GTI?

The Volkswagen GTI is the performance version of the VW Golf. It consistently gets rave reviews from automotive critics and is an overall better car than the Mini Cooper. That is somewhat expected given that it starts at $25,595 – about $4,500 more than the Mini Cooper. However, the price ceiling for both cars is about the same. It’s hard to match the GTI’s sportiness, especially among cars not traditionally considered sports cars. The GTI hugs the road around corners, and its two available turbocharged engines easily get the car moving. By contrast, you’ll have to upgrade above the Cooper’s relatively tame base engine to be able to get similar acceleration. While the Cooper is certainly athletic in its own right, it falls a little behind the GTI in driving dynamics and driver experience. The GTI offers excellent cargo space and dwarves the Cooper’s measurements, but passenger space is about the same between the two cars. Interior appearance are very comparable, as both the Cooper and GTI feature high-quality materials and attractive designs. Most surfaces in either car are soft to the touch, making for a comfortable daily driver.

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Honda Fit?

The Honda Fit ranks very highly among subcompact cars, and it should appeal to a much wider audience than the Mini Cooper Hardtop. The Fit a better overall car, and its starting price of just over $16,000 makes it a better value proposition – if performance isn’t at the top of your must-have list. The Fit only comes with a 130-horsepower engine; it’s good for driving around town but a little lackluster for heavy acceleration on the highway. Then again, the Cooper’s base engine performs similarly. The Fit has more responsive handling than you might expect from a budget car, as well as a mostly comfortable ride. Rear passenger space is surprisingly ample, and adults should have plenty of legroom. Cargo space is much better in the Fit than the Cooper as well. With the back seat in place, you’ll get about twice the Cooper’s amount of space in the Fit, and the Fit offers almost 20 more cubic feet than the Cooper when you fold the back seat.

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Mini Cooper Countryman?

It may be hard to tell the difference between the Mini Cooper Hardtop and the Mini Cooper Countryman at first glance. Based on the eponymous Mini, the Countryman is a subcompact SUV that provides slightly more utility. If you’re in need of passenger or cargo space but still want a fun-to-drive vehicle, then the Countryman is a better choice. Conversely, if you’re considering a Mini as just a daily driver or a car to get out and have some fun in, the regular Cooper should suit you just fine. The Countryman is much more accommodating for passengers than the Cooper, especially in the rear. Adults will find ample room, and even if you buy the four-door Cooper you still won’t get as much space. Though the Countryman has low cargo space compared to the rest of its class, it can swallow a lot more stuff than the Cooper can. The Countryman inherits a lot of the excellent performance attributes that the Cooper boasts, like athletic handling and some optional powerful turbocharged engines. However, you can get all-wheel drive in the Countryman, which is not available with the Cooper. The larger size of the Countryman and increased space means a sizable price increase as well; there’s almost a $6,000 difference between the base Countryman and the base Cooper, but that can grow or shrink depending on how you outfit either Mini with options.

Compare the Cooper, GTI, and Fit »

Cooper Interior

How Many People Does the Cooper Seat?

You don’t consider a Mini Cooper Hardtop for its space or practicality. Most occupants in the front two seats should have enough room and shouldn’t feel cramped, and the driver will get a good view of the road ahead. The 2017 Cooper comes in two-door or four-door body styles, which can seat two or three people in the back, respectively. Either way, space is rather limited in the rear seat. If you want to chauffeur anyone but small kids, the four-door is a better bet. It provides more leg- and headroom to fit average-size adults, and they’ll be able to get in and out easier.

Rear passenger space is ample in the Mini Countryman SUV, with plenty of head- and legroom for a couple of adults. The Honda Fit offers good rear legroom, while occupants in the back of the Volkswagen GTI will probably want for a little more overall space.

Cooper and Car Seats

Reviews for the LATCH system in the Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door are mostly negative. There are two complete sets of child-seat connections for the two rear outboard seats, and even though the lower anchors are behind plastic covers, they are still recessed deep into the opening. There’s not a lot of room to maneuver your hands around them to make the connection. Because rear-seat room is at a premium, you'll have to move the front seats forward a good deal to fit most car seats behind them.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door makes using car seats much easier. You shouldn't have to adjust the front seats as much to make room for the car seat, and a three-seat second row means there’s an additional tether anchor for the middle seat. No matter which Cooper you choose, the tether anchors – located halfway down the back of the seat – are easy to find and use. The lower anchors in the four-door model are easy to use as well.

Cooper Interior Quality

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop boasts one of the nicest interiors in the class, which you’d expect given its high price tag. Leatherette seating comes standard, and although it’s not as premium as real leather, it immediately makes the Mini stand out from the many budget-focused cars in the class. Plastics are abundant, but they are soft to the touch, and most other materials are high-quality. There are also many customizable interior stylings, from seat patterns to dash and door trims, and even accent lighting.

Despite its relatively low price tag, the Honda Fit’s material quality is rather high. However, a noticeable amount of wind and road noise makes its way into the cabin, so you won’t have a truly serene ride. Like the Cooper, you can customize the Mini Countryman in seemingly endless ways. If you're a fan of the European style that both Minis exude, the Volkswagen GTI shouldn't disappoint, with touches like red and black plaid seats.

Cooper Cargo Space

Cargo space is a major drawback in the Mini. There’s only 8.7 cubic feet of room behind the second row, although the seats can fold down to get you up to 34 cubic feet. The four-door Cooper is stretched out, so it offers 13.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 40.7 cubic feet with them down. Space behind the rear seats in both models is low for the class and not useful for much more than a couple small suitcases or shopping bags.

You’ll get more cargo utility with nearly all the Mini Cooper Hardtop’s competitors. In the same class, the Honda Fit offers 16.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 52.7 cubic feet if you fold the seats down. The Volkswagen GTI has the same maximum amount of space as the Fit, but 22.8 cubic feet of space with the seats up. The Mini Countryman has a low amount of space for a subcompact SUV, but it’s still more than the Cooper. The SUV has 17.6 cubic feet of space with all seats in use and 47.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

Cooper Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

An infotainment system comes standard in the Mini Cooper Hardtop for 2017, with a 6.5-inch display screen mounted on the center stack. This upgrade is a sign that Mini is adjusting to the market and separating itself from many other budget-focused cars in the class. Based on BMW’s iDrive, the Mini’s system is operated with a central control knob. You might go through a slight learning curve getting used to the interface, but it’s easy to use overall.

If you’re looking for a sporty hatchback that also boasts modern technology, the Volkswagen GTI delivers. Its infotainment system was also recently updated and now features standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These features allow you to sync your smartphone to the infotainment system and access your familiar apps, media, messaging, and contacts, all displayed on the touch screen. Icons and menus also mimic those you’re used to seeing on your phone every day. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Cooper Performance

Cooper Engine: Trio of Turbos

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop comes in three trim levels, each with a different turbocharged engine and power output ranging from 134 to 228 horsepower. The base model is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that is plenty peppy, though you may find it needs the encouragement of a heavy foot on the pedal to truly shine. A four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine propels the S and John Cooper Works trims and provides even more thrilling movement.

A manual transmission is standard in all Coopers, but you can substitute it for an automatic. Some may call that heresy in such a sporty car, but the automatic shifts quickly and precisely to complement the engine nicely.

You likely won’t feel much excitement under the hood of the Honda Fit, as the only engine available is a 130-horsepower four-cylinder. It’s enough for puttering around town, but like the Cooper’s base engine, it can feel underpowered when accelerating hard or cruising on the highway. Like its smaller sibling, the Mini Countryman has a lineup of progressively stronger engines. But unlike the Cooper, only the engines in the Countryman S and Countryman John Cooper Works models are turbocharged, and those are the ones you’ll want for satisfactory power. The Volkswagen GTI boasts a turbocharged engine that puts out 210 or 220 horsepower depending on the trim, and both are equally capable of thrilling you when you hit the gas.

Cooper Gas Mileage: Good to Go

The Mini Cooper Hardtop's base engine has good fuel economy that should allow you more time on the open road and less at the pump. You’ll get up to 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the standard manual transmission, which is a little better than average for the class. Move up to either the Cooper S or John Cooper Works trims, and you’ll get 23 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway with their four-cylinder engines.

Gas mileage is mostly lower in the Cooper's competitors. The Honda Fit is most comparable at 29/36 mpg city/highway. Both the Volkswagen GTI and Mini Countryman have turbocharged four-cylinder engines that get worse estimates. The GTI gets 24/34 mpg city/highway. There are no estimates yet for the standard 2017 front-wheel-drive Countryman, but the all-wheel-drive variant gets 22/32 mpg city/highway.

Cooper Ride and Handling: A Blast to Drive

There’s one word that comes to mind when you get behind the wheel of the Mini Cooper: fun. The Mini Cooper Hardtop gets one of the highest performance scores in our rankings due to its athletic handling and corner-carving abilities. While most performance-focused cars sport rear-wheel drive, all Coopers get their power from the front wheels. Despite this drivetrain, the Mini still confidently grips the road through curves.

A trade-off for the Cooper’s deft driving dynamics is harsh ride quality. The Mini Cooper isn’t exactly a comfortable cruiser. You’ll likely feel most bumps or shocks from the road, especially if you seek better handling by outfitting the Cooper with larger wheels and smaller tires. Outside noise also permeates the cabin.

Though we classify it as a compact car, the Volkswagen GTI has the spirit of a sports car. It’s incredibly fun behind the wheel, with sharp steering and excellent composure around corners. The GTI also comes standard with performance features like an adaptive suspension, and other models above the base trim include a limited-slip differential and performance brakes.

When it comes to handling, part of the appeal of the Mini Countryman is that it’s available with all-wheel drive. It also maintains most of the good performance that the Cooper features, but it is an SUV, so you may feel some body roll around turns. Some test drivers find the ride a little stiff.

Read more about performance »

Cooper Reliability

Is the Mini Cooper Reliable?

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop receives a slightly above-average rating in predicted reliability of 3.5 out of five, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The Volkswagen GTI earns the same rating. The 2017 Mini Countryman scores average, and the Honda Fit is rated slightly above average.

Mini Cooper Warranty

Mini backs the 2017 Cooper with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. You'll get better coverage with the Honda Fit or VW GTI, which both come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Cooper Safety

Cooper Crash Test Results

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop receives four out of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it earns the highest possible rating of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all its tests, and it’s named a 2017 Top Safety Pick.

Rivals of the Mini Cooper also do well in crash tests. Both the Volkswagen GTI and the Honda Fit get a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA, with four out of five stars in the rollover test. The GTI gets four stars in frontal crash tests. At the IIHS, the Fit underwent four tests and scores Good in all of them, while the GTI, like the Cooper, is named a Top Safety Pick.

The Mini Countryman has not been crash tested by either agency.

Cooper Safety Features

Few models in the class offer advanced driver assistance technologies as standard equipment, though some of the features are optional. The Cooper is no different. The Mini Cooper Hardtop offers an optional rearview camera, rear parking sensors, parallel parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

Read more about safety »

Which Mini Cooper Model Is Right for Me?

The 2017 Mini Cooper comes in Hardtop 2 Door, Hardtop 4 Door, and convertible models, as well as base, S, and John Cooper Works trim levels. With multiple option packages and individual options to choose from, there are seemingly endless ways to configure the Cooper. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in all models, but you can opt for a six-speed automatic transmission. The Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims each boast more powerful engines as well as upgraded performance features and an available automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Unless you're not planning on transporting passengers often, you'll want to opt for a four-door model. This variation only costs $1,000 more than the base price of the two-door, but be aware that you can't get the performance-oriented John Cooper Works trim with four doors. The four-door Cooper offers about 4.5 more cubic feet of cargo space, and it makes it easier to carry adults in the back seat. Each model can be upgraded to a convertible for about $5,000.

The engine in the base Cooper is fine for most situations, but it sometimes needs a little encouragement to really get going. Choosing the Cooper S is your best bet if you want to effortlessly motor around town or easily cruise on the highway while having more passenger and cargo space. You'll also get the benefit of included performance extras, like an adaptive suspension.

Mini Cooper

The base Cooper starts at $20,950. Standard features include leatherette seating, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, a six-speaker audio system, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch screen and smartphone app integration. The 2017 Mini Cooper comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 134 horsepower.

A variety of packages combine popular options and actually save you money compared to adding a la carte features. The Cold Weather package ($750) includes heated front seats and auto-dimming and folding mirrors. The Technology package ($2,000) adds a rearview camera, parking sensors, navigation with real-time traffic, and an upgraded 8.8-inch infotainment screen.

The Sport package ($2,000) adds sport seats, selectable driving modes, an adjustable suspension, upgraded wheels, and LED headlights. Finally, the Premium package ($1,800) includes a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, proximity-key access, and a panoramic sunroof.

Other individual options include leather seating, satellite radio, an alarm system, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and an incredible number of customizable interior and exterior details.

Mini Cooper S

Starting at $24,400, Cooper S models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 189 horsepower. Also standard are driving mode selection and a performance control adjustable suspension.

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works

The John Cooper Works trims, starting at $30,900, feature a 228-horsepower turbo four-cylinder engine in addition to a special sport suspension.

Who Makes the Mini Cooper?

Mini is a British automotive company that is currently owned by the German BMW. Mini Coopers are built in Oxford, England, and Born, Netherlands.

The history of Mini dates back to 1959, when the original model was introduced by the British Motor Corporation. A succession of state-owned companies produced the original Mini until 1994, when BMW acquired a holding company that also contained the British Land Rover brand. The last original Mini rolled off the line in 2000 – the same time that BMW divested Land Rover to Ford. BMW debuted the current iteration of the Mini Cooper in 2001.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mini dealer.

See 2017 Mini Cooper specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop is unlike other cars in the subcompact class. It has a relatively high price, impressive performance, and tons of options and features. The Mini Cooper deserves your consideration if you want a fun everyday driver and your budget isn’t too tight. However, if rear-seat or cargo space is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Who says you can't have it your way? It's a question asked by the 2017 Mini Hardtop, a sporty compact that allows for a seemingly endless degree of customization. It's also stylish and a blast to drive. There are few rivals that let you have this much fun for this price." -- Edmunds
  • “All Mini Cooper models – from base models to the more powerful Cooper S, to the racy John Cooper Works editions – offer a fun-to-drive feel, high style and nearly infinite equipment variations. If you're willing to spend extra money, a new Mini Cooper makes a compelling high-fashion option against more common subcompact cars like the Honda Fit." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "What We Like: Great styling; sporty driving dynamics; enjoyable powerplants; surprisingly practical. What We Don't: Gets pricey with options; looks a lot like last year's model; sport suspension means stiff ride." -- Autotrader (2016)
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