2018 MINI Cooper

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MSRP: $21,600 - 36,600

2018 MINI Cooper Review

The 2018 Mini Cooper is a jaunty little car, with playful styling and spirited performance. Its go-kart handling is a "love it" or "leave it" trait, as is the Cooper's extensive (but expensive) list of options. The front seats are comfortable, but rearward real estate is in short supply. 

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 7.6
Safety: 9.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

 

  • Distinctive interior styling and premium materials
  • Sharp handling
  • Energetic turbo engines

 

 

  • More expensive than most vehicles this size
  • Cramped back seat
  • Small cargo area
  • Firm ride

 

Is the Mini Cooper a Good Car?

When it comes to achieving truly athletic handling in a subcompact car, the Mini Cooper is one of the best there is. Its turbo engines offer various levels of zoom, and its responsive steering and excellent grip give this little car a feeling of zippiness typically reserved for larger hatchbacks. Between its performance, comfy front seats, and appealing infotainment system, the Cooper's focus is clearly on satisfying the driver and front-seat passenger, leaving rear-seat passengers with little room (though the larger Hardtop 4 Door has a pinch more legroom in back). Cargo space is similarly limited behind the back seat.

Should I Buy the Mini Cooper?

You should buy the Mini Cooper if snappy performance in a standout package is important to you. Its lively acceleration and animated handling are smile-inducing, livening up the normally drab daily commute. The Cooper's signature look is also appealing for those looking to stand out from the crowd of featureless small cars, and Mini offers dozens of ways to further customize the car. Of course, not every shopper will want to stomach its above-average price tag, especially when you can spend less and get similar performance with a Mazda3 or get a roomier cabin with a Honda Fit.

Compare the Cooper, Mazda3 and Fit »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mini Cooper?

For 2018, Mini made a rearview camera and parking sensors standard in the Cooper. You can get these features in older models, but you'll have to hunt for them. Mini last redesigned the Cooper for the 2014 model year. Older models in this generation will likely cost less.

If you're looking for a four-door Cooper hatchback, note that it was introduced for 2015. Likewise, the Cooper convertible saw its full redesign for the 2016 model year, so drop-top models older than that will be similar to the previous generation. Also for 2016, automatic emergency braking became available for the first time. An infotainment system became standard for 2017; it was optional in prior models. To further research other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Mini Cooper. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Mini Cooper »

We Did the Research for You: 38 Reviews Analyzed

Our comprehensive Mini Cooper review has everything you need to know in one place. We analyzed professional evaluations from 38 reviews and combined this information with details like horsepower specs, cargo space, and fuel economy. This 2018 Mini Cooper review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2014 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report helps readers make smart buying decisions. Our Best Cars team taps into more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry to guide you through your new car expedition. We keep our recommendations and rankings unbiased by refusing expensive gifts from automakers and using a third party for our advertising.

How Much Does the Mini Cooper Cost?

The Mini Cooper is among the most expensive subcompact cars and hatchbacks in our rankings. Retail prices for a new Mini Hardtop with two doors start at $21,600. Add $1,000 if you want the four-door model or $5,100 for the Mini Cooper convertible. Pricing for the Mini Cooper S trim, which has a perkier engine, start at $25,200. For even friskier performance, Mini also offers the John Cooper Works trim. The MSRP for this trim begins at $31,800 for the two-door hardtop and $36,600 for the convertible.

Two other versions of the Mini Cooper are available, both of which have separate reviews. Prices for the medium-sized Mini Clubman start at $24,800, while the larger Mini Countryman starts at $26,600. For great savings at your local Mini dealer on any of these models, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program.

Mini Cooper Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Volkswagen GTI?

If you're already comfortable with spending more than $21,000 for a hatchback, you should also consider a Volkswagen GTI. With a standard 220-horsepower, turbocharged engine and sharp handling, it's one of the most athletic hatchbacks you can buy. The spacious interior features premium materials that make for an upscale ambiance.

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Subaru Impreza?

The Subaru Impreza isn't very sporty, and spirited drivers may protest its leisurely engine. That may be easy to overlook if you live in a region regularly impacted by winter storms, and you need an affordable car: The Impreza is one of the few vehicles under $20,000 that comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Which Is Better: Mini Cooper or Mazda3?

As the Mazda3 demonstrates, you don't have to fork over $20,000 or more to get an entertaining hatchback. This is, after all, the brand that established "zoom" as an adjective. It's also an easy car to live with on a daily basis, with supportive front seats, a spacious hatchback, and an excellent infotainment system.

Compare the Cooper, GTI, and Impreza »

Cooper Interior

How Many People Does the Cooper Seat?

Two-door Minis have four seats inside, while four-door models can carry five people. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, and options like leather upholstery, heated front seats, and sport seats gussy up this area even more. Both body styles feature cramped back seats. If you regularly use the back, you'll probably want the four-door version. Its longer wheelbase grants extra legroom for rear-seat passengers, and two adults can ride back here in reasonable comfort on short trips.

Cooper and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH anchors on the Cooper's outboard seats. Body styles with four doors come with a third tether anchor on the middle seat. It's easy to find and use the tether anchors, but the lower anchors are a different story. Between the deeply recessed anchors and the tight back seat, it's hard to attach a child seat to this hardware.

Cooper Interior Quality

Inside, there's no mistaking a Mini Cooper for anything else. Its quirky styling features a distinct circular design for the center stack, toggle switches down below, and a large analog speedometer centered behind the steering wheel. The interior has upscale materials and feels well-built.

Cooper Cargo Space

You won't have much room to load groceries or gear into the Cooper's hatch. With the rear seat in use, there is 8.7 cubic feet of cargo room available in the two-door version. The longer four-door Cooper is a bit larger, at 13.1 cubic feet. Either way, the Cooper's cargo area doesn't match the versatility of the Honda Fit or the size of the Volkswagen GTI's hatchback. At least the Mini's boxy exterior makes it more agreeable to use.

Cooper Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Cooper comes with an infotainment interface borrowed from BMW. Its learning curve is relatively short, and once you become familiar with the system, you'll be thankful for standard touches like enhanced smartphone integration. This area also shows off one of the car's more whimsical features: available LED lights that surround the infotainment screen and change color. Plenty of grown-up options – such as navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, and a head-up display – add convenience and class.

Read more about interior »

Cooper Performance

Cooper Engine: 3 Entertaining Options

With the Cooper, you don't have to spend more on a higher trim to have sufficient power. That's because even the base 134-horsepower engine is lively and has enough power to manage most errands with ease. That said, if you can afford the pricier engines, you'll be rewarded with even swifter takeoffs and have more oomph on the highway. All Cooper models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic is available.

Cooper Gas Mileage: Typical for a Subcompact Car

The Cooper has a fuel economy rating of 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for its base powertrain. That's close to average for a subcompact car. The Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims (which come with a larger engine) get 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

Cooper Ride and Handling: Sharp, but Not Supple

Reviewers commonly liken driving a Cooper to driving a go-kart because it exhibits the same quick steering and braking, with a firm suspension that keeps body roll in check. These characteristics are best enjoyed on a twisty road, where high grip and a low center of gravity help keep this front-wheel-drive car feeling planted. The downside to these traits is that the suspension is quite stiff (reducing ride comfort), and the steering can feel too sharp when driving on the highway.

Read more about performance »

Cooper Reliability

Is the Mini Cooper Reliable?

The 2018 Cooper has an above-average predicted reliability score of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mini Cooper Warranty

The Cooper comes with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, which differs a bit from the warranties for the Honda Fit and Volkswagen GTI. They 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

No crash test results are available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on the 2018 Cooper. When the organization analyzed the nearly identical 2017 model, the Cooper aced every crash test and earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick label.

Cooper Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 2018 Cooper include a rearview camera, parking sensors, automatic headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Mini also offers automatic parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

Read more about safety »

Which Mini Cooper Model Is Right for Me?

The Mini Cooper is one of the most customizable cars you can build, with three body styles, three trim levels, and dozens of options and packages to pick from. Start with the body style you want. Choices include a two-door hardtop, a four-door hardtop, and a two-door convertible. The different trim levels – Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works – signify the amount of horsepower in each car. Despite the names, the larger Cooper Clubman and Cooper Countryman are separate models.

If you're looking for the thrill of robust acceleration, but you can't afford the pricier John Cooper Works powertrain, the Cooper S is a good middle ground. Its turbocharged engine is rated at 189 horsepower (up from the base model's 134 horsepower) and offers zestier takeoffs. The Cooper S is available with two or four doors and as a convertible. For this trim, Mini offers goodies like heated front seats, a navigation system, a panoramic sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, and leather seats. If you want to add amenities, look first at the available packages, which often are a better value than adding options one at a time.

Mini Cooper

The base Cooper comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic is available. It comes with synthetic leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, enhanced smartphone integration, six speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, and parking sensors. In addition to the two-door hardtop body ($21,600), this trim comes in the four-door hardtop ($22,600) and two-door convertible ($26,700) body styles.

Mini Cooper S

Like the base trim, the Cooper S is offered on every body style, with prices ranging from $25,200 to $30,400. It comes with a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which can be paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission, available six-speed automatic, or six-speed sport automatic with shift paddles.

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works

The John Cooper Works edition pays homage to Mini's racing history. It has performance seats, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust system, and a Brembo brake system. Its 228-horsepower 2.0-liter engine has a twin-scroll turbocharger and a six-speed manual transmission, with the option to upgrade to a six-speed automatic. Prices start at $31,800 for the hardtop and $36,600 for the convertible.

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

See 2018 Mini Cooper specs and trims »

The Final Call

From its distinct look, inside and out, to its characteristically agile performance, there is nothing quite like a Mini Cooper. That's a good thing if you want to have some fun behind the wheel and drool over elements like sharp steering and punchy turbo engines. If you're looking for something that also comes with a soft ride, an accommodating back seat, or a sizeable cargo area, this is not the vehicle for you.

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

  • "The 2018 Mini Hardtop makes it easy and fun to stand out from the crowd. Offering tons of charm at a price starting at about $22,500, the Mini Cooper is already cleverly packaged and cool. The equally enjoyable Convertible is one of the least expensive ways to enjoy open-air motoring. … Even the 4-door model with its 5-passenger seating isn't particularly roomy in the back, so if you regularly transport many adults, the Mini isn't a good call, as implied by its name. Additionally, this BMW sub-brand starts higher than other subcompacts, and the price escalates quickly with options." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "What We Like Unique style and driving character; sporty driving dynamics; energetic and efficient engines; surprisingly roomy front seats; quality cabin What We Don't Gets pricey with options; stiff ride, especially with the sport suspension and bigger wheels; clutch can be difficult to modulate; no collision-avoidance tech." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
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