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2014 Mini Cooper - Small Wheelbase, Long Legs

Miles to Date: 16,504

Large footprint, long wheelbase, big engine, and a relaxed attitude. This is the grand touring formula. AUTOMOBILE's Four Seasons 2014 Mini Cooper doesn't check any of those boxes, but that didn't stop me from driving the spunky red hatch all over Michigan for a few weekend getaways. On my trip to discover some of Michigan's more scenic destinations, I also learned that the MINI Cooper is a surprisingly adept road-tripper, despite its city-car roots.

First I stretched the Mini's legs on a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Mini ate up the 150-mile haul with ease. A lot of that is thanks to our 2014 Mini Cooper's extensive option list, which totals a hefty $9,975. With XM Satellite radio, easy-to-use navigation system, heated seats, and stellar Harman Kardon sound system, I understood why people so often option up their Mini Coopers despite the cost premium. If you're planning on spending a long time in such a small cabin, it might as well be decked out and loaded up.

Long-distance cruising might not seem the proper task for a car with a measly 11.6-gallon fuel tank, but the Mini sips fuel rather than gulping it down. The trip computer indicated 37.3 mpg on the highway, thanks partly to the wildly tall gearing of the Mini's six-speed manual. When a 1.5-liter three-cylinder can turn at just above 2,000 rpm at 75 mph, you know your gas is going to last.

Once I made it into Grand Rapids, the 2014 Mini Cooper reminded me that it's still a city car at heart. Unfamiliar with the city, I relied on the Mini's quick steering and responsive brakes for last-minute lane changes and U-turns as I clumsily tried to find my way around. Tired from driving in circles, I was thrilled at how easy it was to swiftly maneuver into street-side parking spot in front of a local coffee shop.

A few weeks later, the 2014 MINI Cooper and I were back together for an even bigger endeavor: a 552-mile round-trip to Mackinaw City to see the Mackinac Bridge and to tour a slice of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Mini and I navigated narrow streets and icy country roads as I hunted for the best place to get a view of the bridge across the frozen waterway between Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. Then, roughly 50 miles into the UP, I stumbled upon another gorgeous view of the cantilevered Cut River Bridge, which spans across a river gorge. The Mini cut a swathe through the snowbound access road to allow me that sight, digging into snow and ice without a hiccup.

My time with the Mini then seemed like it would be not all smiles, however. With the odometer reading around 18,500 miles, a brake-pad wear warning light came on, requiring a trip to our local dealer. The pads were fine. A faulty sensor was to blame, and the dealer replaced it under warranty.

This minor glitch didn't sully my feelings about the 2014 Mini Cooper. Trekking over the state of Michigan helped me realize why so many shoppers love it. The Cooper is an attractive, premium car that's small enough to work in the city, yet it doesn't sacrifice long-distance comfort on the highway.



  • Body style 2-door hatchback
  • Accommodation 4-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest. ) $20,755
  • As tested $29,795


  • Engine 12-valve SOHC I-3 turbo
  • Displacement 1.5 liters (91 cu in)
  • Power 134 hp @ 4500–6000 rpm
  • Torque 162 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 30/42/34 mpg (city/hwy/combined)


  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.4 turns
  • Turning circle N/A
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
  • Wheels 17-inch aluminum
  • Tires Pirelli Centurato P7
  • Tire size 205/45R-17 88V


  • Headroom F/R 40.3/36.9 in
  • Legroom F/R 41.4/30.8 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 50.6/47.8 in
  • Wheelbase 98.2 in
  • Track F/R 59.1/59.1 in
  • L x W x H 59.1/59.1 in
  • Passenger capacity N/A
  • Cargo capacity (seats up/down) 8.7/38.0 cu ft
  • Weight 2605 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 62%/38%
  • Fuel capacity 11.6 gal
  • Est. fuel range 442 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)


  • standard equipment

    • 15-inch aluminum wheels
    • Multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • 4-speaker audio system
    • Air-conditioning
    • Power windows
    • Interactive LED ring
    • SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
    • Bluetooth
    • Cruise control
    • Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
    • Auxiliary audio jack
    • USB port
    • Mini driving modes
    • Leatherette upholstery


  • Premium package- $1775
    Panoramic moonroof
    Automatic climate control
    Harmon/Kardon premium audio

Mini wired pack- $1750
Navigation w/real time traffic
8-in center screen
Center armrest
Enhanced Bluetooth

17” Cosmos Spoke silver wheels- $1250
Park assistant package- $1000
Park distance control
Parking assistant

Cold weather package- $600
Heated front seats
Power folding mirrors
Rear view camera- $500
Satellite radio- $300
Fog lights- $250
Blazing red metallic paint- $250
Chrome line exterior- $250
Sport seats- $250
Storage package- $250
Headliner in anthracite- $250
Interior surface Firework- $200
Bonnet stripes in white- $100
Color line glowing red- $100