By Joe Santos - Updated Date: 1/26/2012
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.You'll Like This Car If...
If you've always been infatuated by Mini's unique styling, but wished they offered something bigger, the Countryman could be for you.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's Significant About This Car?
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 It 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.