By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
The 2012 Mini Countryman is the "Jumbo Shrimp" of automotive world. With an elevated seating position and ample cargo space, the Countryman's dimensions strike the balance between the Mini Clubman and conventional small SUVs. Competing against segment powerhouses like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, it may appear as if Mini brought a knife to a gunfight. However, the Countryman is prepared to confront its seasoned challengers with enticing features such as all-wheel drive (AWD), a snappy turbocharged engine and dynamic handling unmatched by traditional compact SUVs.
If you have always wanted a Mini but your daily driving responsibilities require a more practical vehicle, the 2012 Countryman's four doors, rear liftgate and 41.3 cubic feet of cargo space might be the answer you were looking for.
If you are looking for a compact SUV with a forgiving, comfortable ride along with cargo space comparable to most midsize SUVs, a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 might be the better choice.
The Mini Countryman receives minor equipment updates for 2012 including a no-cost optional rear bench seat, which increases the Countryman's seating capacity to five. A 2-tone steering wheel and new wheel options are also added to the Countryman's expansive menu of available features.
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 hauling 100-pounds of cargo. Actually, the Countryman weighs about 400 pounds more than the standard-issue Mini Hardtop, 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 agility. 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 outward 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 Infotainment System
Mini's newest infotainment option, Mini Connected, offers drivers a variety of multimedia and entertainment functionalities. Utilizing Bluetooth wireless technology, the system leverages your smartphone's data plan for a range of connected services through Mini's free mobile app. Features such as social-media timelines, a customizable news feed, Pandora Internet radio and Google Local Search are clearly displayed on a brilliant 6.5-inch screen.
ALL4 All-Wheel Drive
The Cooper S Countryman ALL4 trim is the only vehicle in Mini's lineup that delivers the sure-footed traction of full-time all-wheel drive. Suitable for various on- and off-road driving conditions, the system seamlessly distributes power between the front and rear axles depending on the Countryman's speed, steering angle and acceleration rate.
The Mini Countryman's cabin is just as distinctively charismatic as its exterior. Like all Mini interiors, the center stack is home to a massive, platter-sized speedometer with an integrated audio system display. The climate control interface takes some getting used to and the assortment of chrome flip switches, while attractive, are difficult to distinguish. A unique (though fragile) 2-piece Center Rail system positioned between the outboard seats runs the length of the cabin offer an array of customizable configurations for armrests, cup holders or storage bins. At their most rearward setting, the rear seats offer generous legroom and an uncharacteristic- for a Mini - amount of headroom.Exterior
Despite its broader dimensions, the 2012 Countryman's design is undoubtedly Mini. The Countryman embodies the versatility of conventional SUVs with its rear liftgate, elevated ride height and four doors. A low load-in height combined with a wide opening liftgate at the rear makes stowing cargo a cinch. A key selling point with any Mini vehicle is aesthetic customization, and the Countryman is no exception. A myriad of colors, paint schemes, accessories and wheel options present an unparalleled level of factory-offered personalization.
While the 2012 Mini Countryman carries a higher entry price than many of 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 and roof rails are standard. Inside, you'll find 6-way manually adjustable seats, a 3-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette seating surfaces, an engine start/stop button and a 6-speaker audio system with HD Radio. Safety features include seven airbags and Mini's crash sensing system that automatically triggers the hazard lights, unlocks the doors and deactivates the fuel pump during certain types of collisions.
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 includes a harman/kardon sound system, rear sonar proximity parking sensors for difficult parking situations, a center armrest and the "Mini Connected" in-car entertainment system (with optional navigation). The Premium Package contains 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 without ever removing the key fob from your pocket or bag. 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 2012 Mini Countryman is powered by the same engines of its smaller siblings. Both engine choices displace 1.6 liters, with the Cooper trim receiving a fuel-efficient naturally-aspirated version, while Cooper S models add a twin-scroll turbocharger for a 33-percent boost in horsepower. Both versions are available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. While the standard Countryman is no slouch in Cooper trim, the additional thrust of Cooper S models shaves nearly two seconds off the base model's 0-60 time.
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/35 mpg (manual), 25/30 mpg (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 mpg (manual), 25/32 mpg (automatic), 25/31 mpg (manual, AWD), 23/30 mpg (automatic, AWD)
The base Mini Countryman holds a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $22,000. Stepping up to the Cooper S model bumps up the price to just under $26,000. Opting for the Cooper S ALL4 all-wheel-drive version tacks $1,700 onto the price, and adding an automatic transmission to any trim adds $1,125. To see what folks in your area are actually paying for their 2012 Mini Countrymen, check out KBB's Fair Purchase Price located in the "What should I pay for a new car" section of our homepage. While it won't trump the mighty CR-V, we project the 2012 Mini Countryman will hold a stronger 5-year residual value than the Nissan Juke and Ford Escape.
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."
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."
1 person out of 1 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."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jerseyguy (NJ) on Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive. Comfortable and practical."
Cons: "Marginal gas mileage, compromised performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The ability to carry four people and still have the dynamics (for the most part) of a MINI is terrific. The ride quality is dramatically better than the R56 Cooper because of the longer wheelbase and additional heft. However, the additional heft, due to the AWD, diminishes the fun quotient somewhat. Performance suffers because the 1.6 turbo is pulling an additional 600 pounds around. A larger motor is definitely called for this vehicle. A 1.8 or the 2.0 turbo four from BMW would do wonders. Also, the fuel mileage is marginal for a car of this type. Around town I'm getting under 22 mpg. Highway, about 27. Obviously, the EPA numbers are a bit fanciful. Maybe with more break-in those numbers will improve. But I've heard from other owners not to expect much more. Otherwise, I fully enjoy this car. And the AWD has been great in the bad weather."
By Mini Ride (FL) on Friday, January 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fun to drive, I recommend you rent a mini before you buy unless you already own a small car. Love it!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful