By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/1/2012
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.You May Not Like This Car If... What's New for 2012
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 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 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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.