2020 MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door vs. 2020 Chevrolet Sonic

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard Automatic Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Sonic offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Sonic doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

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

Warranty

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Sonic’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s corrosion warranty is 6 years and unlimited miles longer than the Sonic’s (12/unlimited vs. 6/100,000).

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. Chevrolet only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Sonic.

Reliability

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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 Sonic’s 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door first among compact sporty cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Sonic isn’t in the top three in its category.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks MINI 14 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 148) than the Sonic’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 51 more horsepower (189 vs. 138) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 148) than the Sonic’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S Auto 4 cyl. gets better highway fuel mileage than the Sonic (26 city/35 hwy vs. 26 city/34 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Sonic 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 Sonic doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

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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 Chevrolet Sonic (3). This means the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Sonic every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is available on the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Sonic.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Sonic doesn’t offer an SMG.

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 Sonic doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Cooper Hardtop 4 Door

Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S

Sonic

Front Rotors

11 inches

11.6 inches

10.8 inches

Rear Rotors

10.2 inches

10.2 inches

9” 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 Sonic. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

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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 Sonic’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Sonic’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

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 Sonic doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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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 Chevrolet Sonic 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 Sonic’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 Sonic’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer than on the Sonic (101.1 inches vs. 99.4 inches).

Chassis

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 1 foot, 4.5 inches shorter than the Sonic Sedan, making the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

For excellent aerodynamics, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard flush composite headlights. The Sonic has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

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 Sonic doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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

Cargo Capacity

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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. The Sonic’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge (except wagon).

Servicing Ease

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Sonic uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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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 Sonic 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 Sonic LT/Premier.

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 Sonic can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Sonic’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Sonic doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

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 Sonic’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 Sonic 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 Sonic 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 Sonic doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard extendable sun visor. The Sonic doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Chevrolet only offers heated mirrors on the Sonic LT/Premier.

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 Sonic’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sonic doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

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 Sonic 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 Sonic 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 Sonic doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Sonic’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the MINI Cooper offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Sonic doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

Model Availability

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The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Chevrolet Sonic isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

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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 42.59% to 47.57% of its original price after five years, while the Sonic only retains 37.81% to 39.84%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is less expensive to operate than the Sonic because typical repairs cost less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Sonic, including $190 less for a muffler and $106 less for front brake pads.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/21

Consumer Reports® recommends the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Sonic 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 Sonic isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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