2013 MINI Countryman Review
By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
What's New for 2013
Think of the 2013 Mini Cooper Countryman as the "big Mini." Though still small by regular-car standards, the Countryman is the roomiest, most passenger-friendly vehicle in the expanding Mini lineup. With four real doors, seating for five and a rear cargo hatch, the Mini Cooper Countryman breathes more everyday practicality into the British marque and BMW sub-brand. As a crossover SUV, the Countryman doesn't have the cargo-hauling or towing capability of bigger vehicles such as the Ford Escape or Honda CR-V, but it does offer something those others can't match: The nimble driving characteristics for which all Minis are known. Given these traits plus fuel efficiency and the availability of all-wheel drive, the Countryman may just be the motivator needed for those who yearn for a Mini but need more room.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you want the go-kart driving dynamics that Minis offer but need everyday practicality to haul people and cargo, the Countryman could be your happy medium to happy motoring.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you want a compact SUV that's more comfortable and offers more room and versatility for the money, look to a mainstream crossover such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, or Toyota RAV4.
Among the changes to the 2013 Countryman is a little one that's a rather big deal in Mini Land: The power-window controls are integrated into the armrests vs. the cute-but-frustrating prior setup of tiny toggles in the center dash. For 2013 the Countryman will be available in even more potent John Cooper Works form, marking the first JCW model with all-wheel drive.
Driving the Countryman
Minis are known for their go-kart handling. Though not necessarily lightning fast, these diminutive British vehicles are immensely fun to fling around corners. That dynamic nature extends to the 2013...
Countryman, but due to its larger size and added weight, it isn't quite as agile as its smaller and lighter siblings. For a crossover SUV, though, the 2013 Mini Countryman is immensely fun to drive, especially for drivers willing to shift for themselves via the snappy 6-speed manual transmission. Those drivers will also likely prefer the higher-powered Cooper S version of the Countryman that features a turbocharged engine. Mini enthusiasts willing to take the financial plunge of the new, $35,000-plus John Cooper Works edition of the Countryman will be rewarded with an invigorating little mover that has an intoxicating exhaust note that growls with the best of them. On the flip side, the Countryman's stiffer suspension results in a firmer overall ride.
TRADITIONAL WINDOW SWITCHES
Don't get us wrong: We love the eccentricity of Mini's retro-style switches. But having to target the awkwardly placed metal toggles in the low center dash gets to be a pain in daily driving. After a chorus of criticism, Mini has finally relented and placed the switches where you expect to find them: in the door panel.
MINI CONNECTED INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
In addition to the usual tech features such as navigation and Bluetooth connectivity, Mini's system uses a driver's smartphone and apps to play Web-based audio, access social-media sites, and even utilize Google Send to Car, which emails destinations you've chosen beforehand to check out. Further, the digital goodness is presented on a color 6.5-inch screen housed within Mini's ginormous speedometer.
2013 MINI Countryman Details
The Countryman's cabin is just as charismatic as others in the Mini lineup. That's to say there is the usual dichotomy of the massively oversized speedometer in the center of the car with scads of small buttons and dials below. Thankfully the power window switches have finally been removed from this area and placed in the door housings like the majority of other cars. For 2013, the Countryman now comes standard with a 3-person rear bench, with the pair of individual rear seats now a no-cost option. With that latter setup is a unique rail system that runs between the seats. Available as one or two sections, the rail enables you to attach cup holders, an iPod cradle, eyeglass case and more.
Picture a Mini that's gone muscular, and you'll probably imagine something like the Countryman. In addition to being more than 16 inches longer than a Mini Cooper Hardtop, the Countryman is distinguished by its two rear passenger doors, extra height, and additional curves. Like the Mini's interior, the exterior is highly customizable. There are a wealth of choices for everything from paint scheme to wheels and headlight housings. The performance-oriented John Cooper Works models are fitted with an aerodynamic kit and, like the Cooper S version, twin exhaust outlets.
The 2013 Mini Cooper Countryman comes in three major trims: Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works, with the biggest difference being their engine power output. Standard on all models are a 6-speed manual transmission, leatherette seats, AM/FM/CD/HD Radio audio with six speakers and an auxiliary input, a climate-controlled glove box, and remote entry. On the safety front, there are seven airbags, 4-channel antilock brakes, and traction and stability control. Like other new Mini models, the Countryman comes with no-cost maintenance that includes oil changes, wiper blades, brakes and rotors for three years or 36,000 miles. Roadside assistance comes standard for four years and unlimited models.
As with other vehicles in Mini's growing stable, the Countryman can be configured over 10 million different ways. We won't count them here, but will instead mention some of the bigger options that can be had, often grouped in packages. The Mini Connected package is available with or without navigation and includes a nifty infotainment system and color screen that syncs with smartphones. Other goodies include a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, a harman/kardon premium sound system, parking sensors, leather seating, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Configuring a Mini online is meant to be a fun experience as you tailor the interior and exterior to your individual taste.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Mini Countryman is powered by the same 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine as its smaller siblings. Like them, it comes in various power outputs. The base S model makes a just-adequate 121 horsepower, while the S model makes a more robust 181 horsepower. The top dog is the John Cooper Works,which delivers a potent 208 horsepower that can shuffle this vehicle from 0-60 mph in about seven seconds. Base Mini Countryman models are front-wheel drive only. The Cooper S Countryman can be had with Mini's ALL4 all-wheel drive, which comes standard on the John Cooper Works model. Standard on all models is a snappy 6-speed manual transmission, with a 6-speed automatic optional. The Mini Countryman has good fuel economy, but it also requires premium fuel. Towing is not recommended.
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/35 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)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
192 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850-5,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic)
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