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2020 Mini Cooper Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2020

The 2020 Mini Cooper is small by any definition. Be it 2-door or 4-door, its tiny passenger compartment is a tough fit for anyone more than 6 feet tall. Of course, taller folks can always pony up for the convertible and drive with the top down. But, with the Mini Cooper, size isn't everything. Even with the small, entry-level turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, it's a blast to drive. It's like piloting a go-cart. As you move up the engine choices, it gets even better.

Mini wants us to think of its brand as a lifestyle. It offers enough branded apparel and doodads to make Harley Davidson take notice. There are also hundreds of ways to customize your Mini. But, don't lose sight of the fact that Mini models are pricey, particularly for their segment. Yes, they are also upscale for their segment, but add a couple of options and the price really escalates. But, hey, remember the fun-to-drive part.

At the time of this writing, technical glitches have benched the standard 6-speed transmission that is standard in Mini Cooper models, except the Cooper John Cooper Works. To date and going forward for the near future, the manual has not been available in 2020 models. Mini expects a slow rollout of the manual across different nameplates beginning in March 2020.

What's New for 2020?

Although Mini still lists it as the standard transmission, unavailable, at least for the time being, is the 6-speed manual transmission. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is now the standard transmission for the Cooper. A 7-speed Sport dual-clutch transmission is standard on the front-wheel-drive Cooper S, while an 8-speed automatic transmission comes with the all-wheel-drive Cooper S ALL4. Mini added its Active Driving Assistant across all models and trims. LED headlights and taillights are now standard on all body styles of its Signature trim. See the 2020 Mini Cooper models for sale near you

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 very pricey with options
  • Stiff ride, especially with the sport suspension and bigger wheels
  • Little in the way of collision-avoidance tech

How Much?

$24,250-$46,250

Fuel Economy

Mini Cooper models are based on three engines. Base models, which are available in 2- and 4-door configurations, use a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder that makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. With the currently standard 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, this powertrain returns 28 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in combined driving. The Convertible's mileage is the same.

Next up is the Cooper S, which is also offered as a 2- or 4-door and uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. It's currently mated to a 7-speed Sport double-clutch transmission. Estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined. The AWD version, with its 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. The Convertible gets 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway/29 mpg combined.

At the top of the range is the John Cooper Works variant, which only comes as a 2-door. It uses an upgraded version of the standard Cooper S engine that produces more power, 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It gets the same 8-speed automatic transmission as the Cooper S AWD, but its estimated mileage is 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined. The convertible delivers 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Mini Cooper Hardtop and Convertible are offered with three powertrains arranged into models: a base model dubbed Cooper, the even sportier Cooper S and the high-performance John Cooper Works variant. For 2020, there are three trim levels -- Classic, Signature and Iconic -- for each powertain model. To streamline this section, we opted to display pricing for the base Classic trim on each engine model. We then listed the added standard content for the Signature and Iconic trim levels. The price within parenthesis is the cost of those trim levels over and above that of the Classic version.

Pricing reflects the automatic transmission for each version, as well as the $850 factory destination charge.

The Cooper Classic (2-Door $24,250, 4-Door $25,750, Convertible $29,750) boasts 15-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated outboard mirrors with washing jets, Dynamic Cruise Control, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, manual climate control, height-adjustable front seats, split-folding rear seats, leatherette vinyl upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel, a 6.5-in central display screen and console-mounted controller, Bluetooth, LED taillights, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack, HD Radio, satellite-radio capability and a 6-speaker sound system.

Step up to the Cooper S Classic (2-Door $28,750, 4-Door $29,750, Convertible $33,750) and, in addition to the Classic features, you'll get the more powerful 2.0-liter engine along with 16-in wheels, run-flat tires, fog lights, adjustable driving modes, automatic climate control and heated sport seats. Apart from the engine, all of these items can be had on the base Cooper.

The sporty John Cooper Works Classic (2-Door $34,750, Convertible $39,750) is available only as a 2-door and Convertible. It builds on the lower engine Classic models with even more power, 17-in wheels, a rear spoiler, an upgraded headliner, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension (the standard suspension can be had as a no-cost option), LED headlights with cornering lights, special styling, sport seats, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and special cloth upholstery.

Cooper Signature (+$3,000) adds to the Classic with 16-in alloy wheels, keyless entry, a panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, LED fog lights, LED headlights, Piano Black interior accents and automatic climate control.

Cooper S Signature (+$3,500) builds on the Cooper S Classic with most of the Cooper Signature features plus a John Cooper Works steering wheel.

John Cooper Works Signature (+$1,500) adds to the JCW Classic with nearly all of the above listed Signature features.

Cooper Iconic and Cooper S Iconic (+$7,000) adds to the Signature with a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-folding outboard mirrors, keyless entry, push-button start, auto-dimming outboard and interior rearview mirrors, heated front seats, automatic climate control (Cooper), LED headlights with cornering lights, LED fog lights, a Harman Kardon Premium surround-sound system, a head-up display (Cooper S), and touchscreen navigation with Apple CarPlay, real-time traffic info and wireless charging.

John Cooper Works Iconic (2-Door +$6,000; Conv +$6500) includes most of the above features plus 18-in alloy wheels. You'll really be able to customize your Mini by taking advantage of the hatchback's options list. Equipment is plentiful, and much of it is available either as stand-alone items or bundled within packages. These include larger wheels, an automated parallel parking system, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, various upholstery upgrades (including leather), an 8.8-in display screen with various functional and feature content improvements, a navigation system, a head-up display and a Harman Kardon sound system. You can also choose from a multitude of exterior and interior trim customization options.

Safety

All 2020 Mini Cooper models include anti-lock disc brakes, front-side airbags, front knee airbags, side-curtain airbags, stability and traction control and a backup camera. Mini's Active Driving Assistant, with its camera-based system, low-speed braking with pedestrian detection and emergency braking assistance at higher speeds, is also standard.

In crash tests carried out by the federal government, the 2-door Mini Cooper earned four out of a possible five stars for overall, frontal and side crash protection. The 2-door Cooper earned the best possible ratings for crash protection in testing by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Equipping it with the optional headlight upgrade and front-crash-prevention technology also makes the Cooper an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Behind the Wheel

Don't be too quick to select one of the more powerful engines. Even though the base-level Cooper has only three cylinders, the little turbocharged engine is surprisingly eager to accelerate. If you'll be sticking to errands around suburbia, the base engine should offer more than enough power and fun. Of course, the 4-cylinder Cooper S and John Cooper Works models are zippier and eager to go fast. They're the models to turn to if you're looking for your Mini to be more of a performance machine.

Inside, today's Cooper offers better materials as well as controls that sacrifice some whimsy in favor of improved function. We approve. At the same time, there are still plenty of unique elements that make a Mini a Mini. There are still toggle switches, special upholstery and trim types, and our personal favorite feature: the circular center display, which boasts a novel ring of LED lights. They serve a number of different functions, acting as a tachometer, parking proximity display and even an alert for upcoming navigation system directions.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Mini Clubman -- If you have doubts that the Cooper hardtop has enough space (especially if you only have one car), the Clubman is most definitely worth a look. It's considerably larger than the Cooper, but it also manages to be a bit more comfortable and refined without losing its whimsical Mininess.

2020 Volkswagen Beetle -- The Beetle boasts unique styling, a wide range of engines and a larger interior than the Mini, but it doesn't offer the same sort of sharp driving experience.

2020 Volkswagen GTI -- If an exciting driving experience is what you're looking for, you might want to consider the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI. It offers a turbocharged engine and a choice between a slick-shifting manual or a dual-clutch automatic. It's also considerably cheaper than the Cooper S when comparably equipped.

2020 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible -- Although the Fiat 124 Spider is based off the MX-5 platform, it has a style and feel all its own, plus a turbocharged engine that's less powerful than the MX-5's engine.

Used BMW 2 Series -- Although the Mini Cooper offers a lot of pizzazz for the money, it can't quite top a rear-wheel-drive car like the 2 Series from Mini's parent company, BMW. A used model will be in the Mini's price range.

Autotrader's Advice

Order your car. Don't get stuck paying for stuff you don't want or a color combination that's not exactly your cup of tea. In one or two months, you can have the exact Mini Cooper you like. You should even be able to get a similar price to one that's just sitting on a dealer lot. And if we were ordering, we'd simply try to keep our Mini as close to the $30,000 line as possible. Whether that means prioritizing features, style or performance is up to you. Anything pricier seems a bit silly. Find a Mini Cooper for sale

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2020 Mini Cooper Review - Autotrader
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