EPA Orders Fuel Economy Downgrade - 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop Long-Term Road Test

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2014 Mini Cooper: EPA Orders Fuel Economy Downgrade

October 23, 2014

2014 Mini Cooper

Small cars like the 2014 Mini Cooper are appealing for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their potential for good fuel economy. But earlier this week the EPA forced BMW/Mini to downgrade the MPG figures on all 2014 Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S window stickers as shown above.

Our 1.5-liter turbo automatic appears on the second line. It lost 1 mpg in each of the three rating categories. All three other Cooper variants suffered the same 1-mpg loss in the all-important Combined category, but things look worse for them because they took a hit of 2 to 4 mpg in the marquee Highway test.

The EPA says this came about after it "performed a fuel economy audit on the BMW Mini Cooper and obtained values that differed from those BMW submitted to EPA for certification." In short, EPA ran a spot check on its own dyno and got a different result.

BMW was then asked to repeat its internal tests with EPA oversight. Meanwhile, the EPA ran another set of tests in parallel on its own dyno in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The end result boils down to this statement: "The EPA is requiring BMW to re-label four of its Mini Cooper models with lower fuel economy values."

But that's not quite the whole story...

2014 Mini Cooper

In the midst of this I stumbled upon the fuel economy ratings of the 2015 Mini Cooper while checking to see if the downrated 2014 Mini Cooper numbers had already appeared on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov website. The 2014 changes were there, but the weird part was the 2015 Mini Cooper ratings were even lower.

What's up with that? I fired off an e-mail to a Mini representative to find out.

He told me this apparent second downgrade for 2015 doesn't reflect an actual reduction in efficiency or a calibration change on the 2015 Mini Cooper coupe. It came out that way because the 2015 Mini Cooper lineup now includes a longer and heavier 4-door version, and the 2-door and 4-door share the same EPA certification.

In other words, the 2015 label is based on a sales-weighted average of the Mini Cooper 2-door we know today and the new 2015 Mini Cooper 4-door. I don't yet understand why they aren't certified separately.

So even though the 2015 Mini Cooper 2-door looks less efficient than a 2014 Mini Cooper on paper, it shouldn't perform any differently than a 2014 model. The 4-door, well, that's another matter. It has to be thirstier if it dragged the average down.

The situation is like that of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. They share the same rating even though one is substantially longer and heavier than the other. The smaller one is getting hosed while the bigger one catches a break.

See also Edmunds News: BMW Drops Fuel Economy Figures for Four 2014 Mini Cooper Models

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,200 miles

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