2014 Mini Cooper: A Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits if You Have the Right Seat
January 26, 2015
The last time I drove our 2014 Mini Cooper, I was delighted to find that my daughter's rear-facing infant seat would fit in the backseat. But that was two months ago, and now I'm dealing with a larger child who rides in a convertible car seat.
For any non-parents out there, convertible seats have a five-point harness and are used from infancy through the preschool years. They are "convertible" in that you can install them front- or rear-facing. Right now, my kid is rear-facing and because of the way you have to angle the seat, this type of installation is very space-intensive. In other words, no more legroom for the front passenger.
After installing my gigantic First Years True Fit C680 SI in our Jeep Cherokee and our Nissan Rogue, I didn't even bother trying to squeeze it into the Mini. It would have been an ordeal even to get that big seat through the door opening. Fortunately, I have a back-up car seat that's a whole lot more compact and it fits well in our 2014 Mini Cooper.
And maybe the best news of all is that I can still fit in the front-passenger seat with the seat installed. I just fit, of course. And I wouldn't ride here for trips longer than 30 minutes, but I do fit, which is cool.
My back-up convertible seat is a Safety 1st Guide 65. It's made by Dorel Juvenile Group, which is the same team of engineers that designed my kid's Maxi-Cosi Mico infant seat (which I really liked), so even though I only paid $80 before tax, there's some peace of mind to be had there. I bought the seat primarily because I wanted to make sure we had something that would fit in our 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan. Secondarily, I wanted a smaller, lighter seat we could travel with and that wasn't so expensive I'd be sad if the airline baggage handlers threw it around a bit.
Save for its adjustable headrest, it's not a deluxe seat, and it has basic metal LATCH connectors. That said, getting it installed in the 2014 Mini Cooper is difficult only because there's not a lot of space in which to maneuver while you're tightening the LATCH strap and simultaneously compressing the seat. This isn't an operation you'd want to be doing every day or even every week. If I owned the Mini, I would install this seat once and leave it be until I was ready to switch it to forward-facing.
You'll notice that I used a pool noodle to achieve the proper angle. This is nothing to do with the Mini, really, because I think with this seat, you'd need a noodle or a rolled-up towel in pretty much any backseat. Also, as the government notes in its ease of use rating for the Guide 65, routing the LATCH belt through the rear-facing belt path is a real pain if you have larger hands, which I do.
Still, I would certainly recommend this particular convertible car seat to any parent with a 2014 Mini Cooper (or another really small car), simply because it fits quite well. The Combi Coccoro is another tiny-car-friendly seat that comes up on Mini owners' forums. But it's quite a bit more expensive than my Safety 1st seat, so I doubt I'd spend the extra money unless this Mini was my primary baby-transport vehicle and I wanted a prettier car seat.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 7,117