2019 MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door vs. 2019 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional MINI Connected, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Rio doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Rio have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Rio’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Rio.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Rio’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 4 more horsepower (134 vs. 130) and 43 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 59 more horsepower (189 vs. 130) and 88 lbs.-ft. more torque (207 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Rio doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Rio doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door higher (7 out of 10) than the Kia Rio (3). This means the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Rio every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S Auto’s optional launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Rio doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Rio:

 

Cooper S

Rio

Front Rotors

11.6 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.2 inches

8” drums

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Rio. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (205/45R17 vs. 185/65R15).

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rio’s 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Rio’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Kia Rio only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Rio doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Kia Rio has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door flat and controlled during cornering. The Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rio doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

Chassis

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 1 foot, 3.2 inches shorter than the Rio Sedan, making the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 2.6 inches shorter than the Rio 5-Door.

The front grille of the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has 1 inch more front headroom and .1 inches more rear headroom than the Rio Sedan.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s rear seats recline. The Rio’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Rio Sedan’s useful trunk space.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Rio doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Rio doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Rio S/EX.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Rio S/EX’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Rio can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Start/Stop Switch standard on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse (optional Comfort Access will also allow unlocking the driver’s door and trunk without taking your keys out). The Kia Rio doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Rio’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Rio doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Rio doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To better shield the driver’s vision, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard dual-element sun visor that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Rio doesn’t offer a secondary sun visor.

When the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Rio’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Rio offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the Rio.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Rio doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Rio doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address with audible turn-by-turn directions, a GPS navigation system is available on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Rio doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With standard voice command, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Rio doesn’t offer a voice control system.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Rio doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The MINI Cooper comes in convertible, two-door hatchback and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Kia Rio isn’t available as a two-door or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will cost $295 to $985 less than the Rio over a five-year period.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will retain 44.48% to 46.21% of its original price after five years, while the Rio only retains 36.09% to 44.46%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is less expensive to operate than the Rio because typical repairs cost less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Rio, including $20 less for fuel injection.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Rio isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door first among compact sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Rio isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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