The 2011 Mini Cooper carries on the brand's small size and distinctive looks, and reviewers are charmed by the peppy performance and agile handling. As its name implies, the Mini Cooper models are small; the backseat is cramped and can only hold two people, and cargo space is minimal on the standard car. Other hatchbacks like the 2011 Honda Fit (Base MSRP: $15,100 to $16,860) are not only cheaper but are also fun-to-drive and have a much more usable interior space. The Mini Cooper Clubman, which starts at $21,100, has a longer wheelbase and a little more interior space. A convertible version is available as well, which is covered in our separate report on convertibles [LINK]. Reliability for the Mini Cooper has been below average.
Minor changes for the 2011 Mini Cooper include slightly more power, modified steering, standard HD radio and a few other small additions. Since it is essentially unchanged from the 2009 Mini Cooper, observations in our report on that model year remain applicable for 2011.
The base Mini Cooper models are equipped with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine and deliver 29 mpg city/37 mpg highway/32 mpg combined with a six-speed manual and 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway/31 mpg combined with the six-speed automatic. The performance oriented Cooper S models produce more power but still provide good efficiency. In mixed driving, the Cooper S model gets 30 mpg with the manual transmission and 29 mpg with the automatic.
The 2011 Mini Cooper gets average crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which gives it the highest rating of Good for frontal-offset crash protection but the lower Acceptable rating for side-impact and roof-strength tests. The only safety test completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the 2011 car is the rollover-resistance measure, for which the Mini is given the highest rating of 5 stars. All Mini Cooper hatchback variants include antilock brakes, side airbags, side curtain airbags, front airbags and electronic stability control.
The 2011 Mini Cooper hatchback's base MSRP starts at $19,400. The longer Clubman version starts at $21,100. The speedy Mini Cooper S starts at $23,000.
The 2011 Mini Cooper receives only incremental changes from the 2010 version, the biggest being a slight increase in power and revised steering. Edmunds.com editors cover all aspects of the Mini Cooper and very much enjoy the Cooper's blend of fun and fuel efficiency.
Review: 2011 Mini Cooper, Editors of Edmunds.com
ConsumerReports.org provides detailed overviews of many models, including the 2011 Mini Cooper. Reviews include information on predicted reliability, performance and daily livability.
Review: New Cars: Small Cars, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The IIHS gives the Mini Cooper the highest rating of Good for frontal-offset crash protection, but it gets a lower Acceptable rating in side-impact and roof-strength tests. These results put the Mini in the middle of the pack among minicars. The new Ford Fiesta is the only model to be rated as a Top Safety Pick in this size category.
Review: Minicars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Mini Cooper the highest 5-star rating for rollover resistance. Other measures have not yet been tested as of this writing.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
The Mini Cooper is chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency as the Most Efficient Minicompact for 2011. The EPA estimates for combined driving range from 29 mpg to 31 mpg depending on engine and transmission combination. This is particularly impressive given that these estimates include the sporty Cooper S model.
Review: 2011 Mini Cooper, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
This report on the 2009 Mini Cooper provides a more detailed look at the model's lineup and performance based on the opinions of expert reviewers. Most observations apply to the 2011 Mini Cooper because there have been few changes to the Mini since the 2009 model was released.
Review: 2009 Mini Cooper, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, March 2009