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We can be pretty certain that the terms "cute," "small," "fun" and "fuel efficient" have been used to describe the Mini Cooper since its U.S. inception in 2001. And while the Mini line-up has always consisted of different flavors like the standard Cooper hardtop, the sun-friendly Cooper convertible and the slightly larger, Cooper Clubman, buyers and enthusiasts alike have probably wondered if the word "practical" could ever be associated with a Mini. A bigger backseat? More cargo room? More headroom? Well, wonder no more, as the all-new 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman is here to answer all those questions. And the answers are, "yes," "yes" and "yes." The Mini Countryman is the fourth addition to the brand's lineup and brings to the table everything one would expect in a Mini – including exceptional handling and a solid build - but with the welcomed addition of more people and cargo space and all-wheel-drive capability. Competitors in the Mini Countryman's category include the Nissan Rogue, Suzuki SX4 and the Toyota RAV4.
If you've always been infatuated by Mini's unique styling, but wished they offered something bigger, the Countryman could be for you.
Like the other vehicles in Mini's lineup, the Countryman reaches out to a niche market both in terms of styling and driving dynamics. While it exudes the same fun driving characteristics as its Cooper siblings, the Countryman's ride-comfort level is at the lower end of the 10-point scale; which might not be everyone's cup of tea.
The 4-seat 2011 Mini Countryman broadens the brand's horizons by offering more flexibility in the inherent retro design, both in passenger and cargo room, and by introducing the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. The Countryman is available in three trim levels: Cooper Countryman, Cooper S Countryman and Cooper S Countryman with ALL4.
Driving Impressions The Mini Cooper's driving dynamics have long been compared to that of a go kart, and while we can technically say the same for the Countryman, we'd compare it more...to "a go-kart that's hauling 100-pounds of cargo." Actually, the Countryman weighs about 400 more pounds than the standard-issue Mini Cooper, so in a related sense it has the same sporty driving dynamics of its siblings – including the razor-sharp steering and crisp handling - but not the same overall tossability. The ride quality is a little firm, but we found it comfortable enough for a long road trip. On the inside, the seats could be softer, but they are adequately contoured and bolstered for the everyday drive and visibility is good from all angles. One note: We found the side mirrors to be placed too low, making them hard to see for shorter drivers.
Mini Connected w/ Navigation
The 6.5-inch screen is easy to navigate and the system offers Bluetooth and smartphone integration to stream music from a device and Internet radio. Users with iPhones will benefit from the Mini Connected App, which allows access to social-media programs, RSS news feeds and Google Local Search.
ALL4 (All-Wheel Drive)
We like the availability of a permanent all-wheel-drive system in a Mini to improve traction on slippery surfaces and challenging terrain.
The 2011 Mini Countryman's retro styling carries over to the interior where the most noticeable feature is the oversized speedometer in the center of the dashboard. The look is eccentric and stylish, from the chrome flip switches for the window to the 2-toned color scheme and symmetrical ovoid patterns that extend to the rear doors, the interior of the Mini Countryman can be considered a lesson in art-deco fashion. There's plenty of headroom and legroom for both the front and rear-seat passengers (a first for a Mini), although seating is limited to four at a time.Exterior
Novelty meets functionality when it comes to the styling of the 2011 Mini Countryman. It has the same retro look as every other Cooper in the Mini lineup with the main differences being the additional rear doors, the larger size and the taller ride height. It's almost hard to tell it's that much bigger at first glance, but it is. Like all other Minis, the Countryman can be painted in a multitude of different colors both inside and out and every trim level comes with 17-inch wheels, although different styles can be chosen.
While the 2012 Mini Countryman carries a higher entry price than its competitors, the decision to purchase a Countryman can be reinforced by a long list of standard equipment. On the outside, 17-inch alloy wheels are standard, and the on the inside are 6-way manually adjustable seats, a 3-spoke leather steering wheel and air conditioning. Also on the list is a start/stop button to turn the engine on and off, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with HD radio and SiriusXM that's in charge of the tunes, and a 6-speed manual transmission.
As with the other vehicles in Mini's stable, the Countryman can be configured in over 10 million different ways. While we don't have the space to list them all, we can say that many of the standalone options are grouped together in packages. The technology package comes with a harmon/kardon sound system, rear parking sensors, a center armrest and the "Mini Connected" in-car entertainment system (with navigation optional). The premium package includes automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the comfort access system which locks/unlocks the doors via a button on the outside handles. The sport package adds 18-inch Turbo Fan wheels, black hood stripes, a rear spoiler and dynamic traction control for more spirited cornering. In addition to these packages, a multitude of wheels, interior/exterior color combinations and graphics are available to build a custom Countryman to the owner's content.
The 2011 Mini Countryman is powered by the same engines that power its siblings. The option of all-wheel drive is a bonus. Both engine choices displace 1.6 liters, with the Cooper receiving a naturally-aspirated version while the Cooper S gets the help of a twin-scroll turbocharger. Despite the increase in weight over its smaller stablemates, the Countryman is still a joy to drive. The Cooper Countryman scoots to 60 mph in under ten seconds and the Cooper S Countryman lowers that time to just over seven seconds.
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/35 (manual), 25/30 (automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
181 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,600 - 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 (manual), 25/32 (automatic), 25/31 (manual, ALL4), 23/30 (automatic, ALL4)
By MontanaMike (NJ) on Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Styling, driving dynamics, value, quality"
Cons: "Sunroof shade let's in too much sunlight"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I recently traded in my Mini Hardtop which I loved except for the unusable backseat and limited storage. Am totally happy with my step up to the Countryman. As with all Minis, great driving dynamics, amazing brakes and most of all, a blast to drive. I got the premium package which includes sunroof, auto lights and auto wipers and am happy I did. I also love the higher ride height of the Countryman which makes stepping in and out much easier. Mileage is lower than the hardtop (which I expected) and because it's still in the break-in period will report back with real mpg at a later date."
By Missy (AZ) on Sunday, May 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, and roomy for a small car"
Cons: "Radio is very unique, slight learning curve."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I went from a very large car to the Mini Cooper S Countryman, and I love it. The car drives wonderfully, it is very fun and I love driving something different than most cars out there. The radio controls take a little getting used to, but it is not too difficult to learn. This car is an absolute pleasure to drive! The amount of space is actually pretty amazing considering how small the car is. The cup holders are in theory a great idea, how ever the fasteners are plastic and break, but mini has been very nice in replacing them as they break."
By AllMyCarsIsForeign (OR) on Sunday, May 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "a blast to drive, great handling, plenty of room,"
Cons: "ergonomically challenged center console and "rail""
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've owned this car for almost a year and it still puts a smile on my face every day. You get all the driving fun and around-town convenience of a small hatchback: easy to park, great mileage, and fun in the curves. What is amazing is how spacious it is. Four full-grown adults can actually sit comfortably in this car and not feel crammed in. The trunk is more than enough for your average grocery run or shopping trip. What I still love is the turbo-4 engine and how this thing begs to be taken through some winding roads. If you want the mini experience, but want a bit more room, this is a great choice. I also think it's a great comparison to a GTI if you want a more distinctive exterior design."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Casty (TX) on Friday, May 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Unique design but sacrifices functionality"
Cons: "Uncontrollable steering, uncomfortable interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Handles too rough. For the cost of this car - and as it is by BMW - you would expect a much smoother ride, Which it definitely is not. The steering is too hard to control. The interior design is all wrong - no cup or storage space. Mirror sizes are insufficient. A/C vents are improperly placed - they are directly behind the wheel so that your hands freeze before the inside of the car gets remotely cooled down. The sun visors are all too short to perform their function and are too small to attach extenders to. The center armrest is useless - it's too low and hides what little space you have. The center over-sized speedometer is also useless - the speed is also depicted above the steering wheel. The run flat wheels are too sensitive thus rendering them useless. Thoroughly regret the purchase of this vehicle."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By CRU1 (NV) on Sunday, April 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "QUALITY, Performance, Style and it is so much FUN!"
Cons: "No Back Up Camera, No Power Seats, No A/C Seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Two weeks ago I was able to purchase my ultimate dream MINI. A Absolute Black with the Chili Red accents here in Las Vegas. It was love at 1st site and I just new I had to have it. I had a 2012 Chili Red S Countryman and had no issues with it and it was a dream to drive and was very reliable. The JCW is all that and everything more, with the sport suspension and many standard upgrades it really rocks. It is much quicker even in the automatic which is what I have and the All4 gives the added confidence when cornering,etc. The JCW doesn't feel as top heavy as the 2012 I traded. I believe it is due to the lower ride height and the the suspension and upgraded 19's. My gas mileage at this point has been between 25-29 depending on city/highway and I expect it will get better with more time. My 2012 was closer to 30 city and 35 highway but was no way as fun as the jCW. The interior of my JCW is the carbon black with the Chili Red interior accents and the NAV/tech package and it is very easy to use. 2013 window switches and door rest are a very nice improvement and really makes the interior more comfortable. Love MINI and the JCW is awesome, it can be spendy but will provide style and performance like no other."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Hot Flash (NH) on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,800overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nimble, fun to drive short distances,"
Cons: "Poor ergonomics for seats and controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"The owner's manual praises the ergonomic driving position. Maybe if you're a 6'2" man. The standard seats are hard, the sport seats not much better. The headrest has an awkward tilt and can only be raised or lowered. So if it is in the correct position to protect your head in the event of a rear-end collision, the headrest pushes your neck forward out of alignment. MINI needs to read up on the definition of "ergonomic." The seats don't have an adjustable lumbar support which is hard to believe in a car that costs as much as this did. I drove Swedish cars for 25 years, even the base models had great seats. The run-flat tires react to the slightest irregularity in the road surface so you constantly have to correct the steering.The tires have a life expectancy of 10,000 miles per Pirelli's website. When I test drove the car the sales staff told me they were good for 20 - 30,000 miles. I drive 20,000 a year so I'm not looking forward to replacing all 4 tires twice a year. The gas mileage is far below expectations based on MINI's estimates. My last car which was larger, heavier, more comfortable, and had a full-turbo with twice the horsepower got better MPG combined and on the highway. Yes, it's cute. It's nimble. It probably gets better MPG than what most people are used to. I don't consider it to be a car for "motoring" longer than a couple of hours. If you want this MINI I would recommend building your own on the MINI USA website. Upgrade to the cloth/leatherette seats with the adjustable lumbar support, the headrests are also better designed, order a center armrest even though the charge for it is ridiculous, get the automatic dual-zone climate control to avoid having to constantly adjust the heat and fan settings. If I had been able to test drive the car for longer than 15 minutes I wouldn't have bought it. And last but not least find a dealer who doesn't act as though you should be honored that they took your money."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful