By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
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 Pablo on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun To Drive"
Cons: "Missing Some Basic Design Features That You Expect"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I purchased the Countryman S after driving a pickup truck for 10 years fully expecting to be blown away. I wasn't. It is a very high performance car, but it lacks some really basic features that I would expect a $30K car to have. For example, the center console is a joke (and is not standard you have to buy it extra). Not enough room to store much of anything. Also, there is not an overhead storage area for glasses and sunglasses. There is a small inconvenient storage location in the center console strip to store 1 pair of glasses. Since I have 3 pairs I am out of luck. The base radio is very poor quality. If you are considering purchasing one of these cars, spend the $$ for the better stereo. The hands-free phone feature does not include texting, only phone calls. My pickup truck had a true hands-free system which was nice and I miss it. Also, the side mirrors sit low and are partially covered by the door. When you are sitting in the driver's seat, you can't see the entire passenger side mirror which causes a blind spot. Lastly, the MPG is at least 20% less than sticker. I get 28-29 HWY MPG and 26-27 Combined MPG. The sticker said 28 Combined and 34 HWY. Overall I am disappointed. I would not buy another until they improve these basic design flaws."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By baprice on Tuesday, August 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, fun, reliable"
Cons: "small, limited storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car has been a joy to drive. The four door countryman is still sporty and the manual transmission brought back many great memories of younger days. The small size is inconvenient and requires a family with multiple vehicles for any activities that require storage."
15 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By MontanaMike on Sunday, July 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving dynamics, look..."
Cons: "Gas mileage, sunroof shade"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've had my Mini Countryman for 1 year and thought it time for a review. What do I like. The looks, driving dynamic, brakes, fun factor, quality build, transmission, engine get up and go, I can fit 4 people and easy access to back seat, added space for carrying stuff in boot and fact that it's a unique car that not a lot of people in my area own. What I don't like. Mediocre gas mileage for a car this small, uses premium gas, mesh sun shade on sunroofs which lets in way too much heat and light, run flat tires, limited interior storage and badly placed, and too small, cup holders. Overall this has been a great car. I'm leasing and will I keep in when lease ends -- still undecided on that issue."
12 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Gilligan on Wednesday, July 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,100overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks good"
Cons: "bad interior, terrible transmission in base model"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I wish I had bought the "S" model, because the automatic transmission in the 2012 Countryman is far below expectations in terms of getting off the line. "Sport Mode" helps to improve the transmission performance, but it must be enabled every time you start the car (and there are some drawbacks to the use of "sport mode"). The 2012 Countryman has a bunch of BAD (which we considered "quirky" when we bought it) design features. Nearly ALL of these bad choices have been fixed in the next year's models. (for instance, window controls moved to from console to door, back seats converted to bench without the separating rail, standard center arm rest) I have had buyer's remorse with this car since month one. It is essentially a highly styled, expensive "Toyota Matrix" but without the zip. I was shocked to drive my mother-in-laws 5+ year old Matrix only to find out that it was a much better drive than my Countryman. Disappointed!"
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Nina on Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Unique, thrilling, comfortable, fun tech, eco"
Cons: "Pricey, not meant to be automatic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I don't know many cars that can haul down the highway, fit four-five passengers comfortably, offer decent gas mileage, take on the snow/rain/dirt like champ, and all at a reasonable price. Having BMW build this car puts me a little more at ease with the bumper-to-bumper warranty and the excellent safety ratings. This is my second MINI and by far my favorite. It's different--not your day-to-day sedans everyone and their mother owns. Trendy but efficient. MINI offers thousands of customizable options to create your unique car. No car is perfect and I'm not looking forward to the expenses after the warranty runs out, but that's a problem most cars and their owners run into. I've always owned GM cars, but wanted something out of the ordinary. MINI certainly delivers. I get compliments everywhere I go and have had people roll down their windows mid-highway to ask me how I like the car. I'm a little bias, but I feel cars like MINI's are meant to be manual. All turbo, small-liter cars should be manual; and the manual doesn't disappoint. Smooth shifting, light clutch, and so much fun to drive."
15 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Josh G on Friday, April 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Styling, space, functionality, sunroof"
Cons: "Pickup, MPG, cost of repairs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"If I were to do it again, I'd pony up the extra cash for the 'S' model. I had a Clubman S, and downgrading to the base is very noticeable. The pickup on my car is terrible and the gas mileage isn't so great either. I hope with the redesign in 2016-2017 we see these 2 items addressed! Otherwise, I am a die-hard Mini fan - love everything else about my Countryman."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful