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2015 MINI Countryman

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2015 MINI Countryman Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.0

Dubbed the "big" Mini, the 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is the burliest vehicle in the British brand's lineup. Of course, relativity rules here: The Countryman is still compact when measured against other cars. In addition to its practical 5-passenger layout and larger cargo capacity, the Countryman is the most adept Mini for tackling a variety of roads and weather conditions thanks to its higher ground clearance and available all-wheel drive (AWD). While this is the beefiest of the Minis, the Countryman retains the brand's retro-cool styling, eccentric attitude and nimble handling. Newer rivals such as the Fiat 500X and Mazda CX-3 pose a challenge to the Countryman's cute-ute status, but for buyers seeking the Mini experience in a larger, more rugged package, the Countryman fits the bill.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love the looks, feistiness and premium appeal of a Mini but require a vehicle that can adequately carry people and gear, the Countryman may be the Mini you've been waiting for. The Countryman is also available with AWD, helpful for traction in inclement weather and light off-roading.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Nowadays the Countryman isn't the only extroverted compact- crossover SUV. While the Countryman is now several years into its life cycle, fresher competitors including the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 are arriving with the latest technology and safety features.

What's New for 2015

The Mini Cooper Countryman is updated for 2015 with a bolder grille, 17-inch alloy wheels, available LED fog lights and daytime driving lights, and under-ride guards on all-wheel-drive ALL4 models. An all-new Countryman based on the latest-gen Mini platform already in use for the Hardtop is likely not far off.

Driving the Countryman
Driving Impressions

Sharp cornering ability, firm steering and zippy acceleration are all part of the Mini DNA. Consider it an extension of Mini's legendary racing exploits and the fact that it's a...

... sub-brand of BMW. The Countryman shares much of the original Hardtop's grin-inducing handling characteristics, just dialed down a notch. This isn't surprising given the Countryman's taller ride height, larger proportions and added weight. But considering this 4-door Mini's added practicality, the tradeoff is worth it. Models with the base, 121-horsepower 4-cylinder engine have just enough power to feel entertaining, but for real thrills you'll want to step up to the Countryman Cooper S with its 181-horsepower turbocharged engine. The deviant in the lineup remains the 208-horsepower John Cooper Works Countryman (JCW). If you're a save-the-manuals type of driver, know that Mini's manual transmissions have much to savor. Otherwise, the 6-speed automatic is an easy pleaser.

A REAL REAR SEAT
If you've ever had to sit in the back of a 2-door Mini Cooper Hardtop, you know it's a confining place. In the Countryman, though, adults can actually climb in and not feel like they're in automotive purgatory. No, it's not a limousine, but 33.8 inches of legroom is respectable.

COOPER S VERSION
For our money, this mid-trim version of the Countryman is the one to get. With 60 more horsepower than the base model and a price tag $9,000 less than the JCW, the roughly $27,000 Cooper S Countryman has a good blend of power and value.

2015 MINI Countryman Details
Interior

Sometimes more whimsical than functional, the Mini Cooper Countryman's interior is nevertheless a charming place. Regardless of how fast you're going, how can that massive speedometer in the center of the dash not put a smile on your face? In models with navigation, the screen for maps and other information is smartly integrated in the center. Some of the controls below, though, are awkward to access while driving. The front seats are supportive, and the 3-across bench is suitable for two adults – three of any size human is a pinch. Rear cargo capacity can be expanded by folding the seats.

Exterior

Whereas the new Mini Hardtop 4-door is sleek and softly rounded, the Countryman retains its beefier shape. Think of it as the Mini that hit the gym. The four side doors provide good access for passengers, and the upward-rising tailgate makes it easy to load cargo. It's a better solution than the barn-style swing-out doors previously found on the Mini Clubman. All-wheel-drive ALL4 Cooper S models have under-ride guards that resemble skidplates, which are optional on front-wheel-drive (FWD) models for a tougher appearance. As with all Minis, the Countryman is highly customizable. So go ahead, add those cheeky racing stripes to the bonnet.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2015 Countryman is available in three trims: Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW). The biggest difference among them is their engine power output (121, 181 and 208 horsepower, respectively), and thus their performance. Even the least expensive new Countryman includes remote keyless entry, push-button start, Leatherette upholstery, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD Radio system with Bluetooth connectivity and USB port, and 17-inch wheels and run-flat tires. One particularly nifty feature is the climate-controlled glove box. The 2015 Mini Countryman also includes no-cost maintenance for three years/36,000 miles and 4-year/unlimited-mileage roadside assistance.

Optional Equipment

Begin to build out a Countryman, and Mini will inform you there are over 10 million ways to do it. We haven't counted them all, but it's safe to say this is a highly configurable car. Beyond the myriad interior and exterior aesthetic treatments available, among the major extras are a Technology Package that bundles the Mini Connected iPhone integration system, harman/kardon sound system and satellite radio. Navigation can also be added, as can leather interior, heated mirrors and front seats, rear park-distance control, dual-pane sunroof and xenon headlights. A sport suspension that creates a stiffer but sharper ride is also available.

Under the Hood

All three trims of the 2015 Mini Countryman use a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, with three power outputs available. In base models the engine is naturally aspirated and makes 121 horsepower. This is just adequate to move the Mini, and with a 0-60-mph time of 9.8 seconds, it isn't exactly a lightning bolt. Thanks to a turbocharger, the Cooper S variant makes 181 horsepower and hits that mark in a far fleeter 7 seconds. Then there's the performance-minded Countryman JCW, whose turbocharged engine has been tuned to make 208 horsepower; it reaches 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The Countryman is FWD by default. AWD is available on the Cooper S and is standard on the JCW. Also standard is a 6-speed manual transmission, with a 6-speed automatic optional.

1.6-liter inline-4
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 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, FWD), 25/32 mpg (automatic, FWD), 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 @ 1,900-5,000 rpm (207 lb-ft for short durations with overboost)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic)

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