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2012 MINI Cooper Countryman Photo
8.0
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Nelson Ireson
Senior Editor, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$19,575
BASE MSRP
$21,750
Quick Take
The 2012 MINI Countryman brings the right mix of sport, utility, and comfort to the compact crossover game. Read more »
Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

The front fascia ditches the cutesy appeal of the current Cooper in favor of a more aggressive, bulgy stance. Yes, it's snarling at you.

Autoblog »

If Mini's first crossover -- the Countryman -- succeeds, it will be due more to its style and versatility than for the driving experience

Los Angeles Times »

Is it a bit ugly? From some angles it seems odd, and its unprecedented size and ride height play havoc with your Mini preconceptions.

Top Gear »

The retro-looking dashboard, with its large central speedometer and toggle switches, will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in more recent Mini models.

Inside Line »

Like its predecessors, the Countryman is a two-box design with a happy face consisting of through-the-hood headlamp eyes and upper and lower grilles.

Automobile »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$21,750 $27,050
MSRP $21,750
INVOICE $19,575 Browse used listings in your area
FWD 4-Door
Gas Mileage 27 mpg City/35 mpg Hwy
Engine Gas 4-Cyl, 1.6L
EPA Class Compact
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 4
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style 4dr Car
See Detailed Specs »
8.0 out of 10
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The Basics:

A bigger MINI might sound like a contradiction in terms, but even the biggest MINI--the Countryman--is compact compared to the competition. With its size, the Countryman adds a healthy dose of practicality, too, with better off-road capability, four doors and four usable seats.

The Countryman also marked the debut of a new styling direction for MINI, and the 2012 Countryman sticks to its guns. Taller, bigger, and with a more boldly-styled front end, the Countryman is instantly recognizable, both as a MINI and as something out of the ordinary. Inside, the Countryman is more similar to its smaller siblings, with all of the good (quirky design, surprising roominess) and bad (odd ergonomics) that brings.

The Countryman, however, is not very MINI under the skin; it's actually based off the platform under BMW's X1. That brings with it ALL4 all-wheel drive capability, a more refined ride, and somewhat more weight, but the difference from a typical MINI is measured in small degrees, not major paradigm shifts. Power is not quite abundant with the Countryman, even in Cooper S ALL4 trim, but it's a sporty ride for a crossover. All three Countryman trims (base, S, and S ALL4) are available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Base models use the same 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in other MINIs, while the Cooper S Countryman models (including the ALL4) use the 181-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder common to the Cooper S range. It's a bit of a shock how much MINI there is in the Countryman's handling, but no surprise that in the end, it's more sporty crossover than real sports vehicle.

Fuel economy is, accordingly, more or less in line with other MINIs despite the added bulk: the non-turbo base model rates 27/35 mpg with the manual transmission and 25/30 mpg with the automatic. The Cooper S Countryman does only slightly worse with the manual at 26/32 mpg, and actually a little better with the automatic at 25/32 mpg. Adding all-wheel drive to the Countryman S is only a 1-2 mpg penalty depending on the transmission chosen.

Also, like its MINI family, the Countryman is almost infinitely configurable, with many color-customizable paint elements, interior options, and equipment packages. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth or vinyl upholstery, ambient lighting, HD Radio, and power accessories. Available options include leather upholstery, MINI Connected with navigation, a Premium package with automatic climate control, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights, a Cold Weather package, a pair of Sport packages, and a Technology package.

The NHTSA hasn't yet rated the 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman, but the IIHS gives the nearly identical 2011 model a rating of "good" and a Top Safety Pick. Standard stability and traction control, corner brake control, anti-lock brakes, seven airbags, and more are all baked right in, helping it earn its top marks.

Likes:

  • Unique yet still MINI
  • Improved interior quality
  • Surprising rear-seat room
  • Highly customizable

Dislikes:

  • Steering feel is divisive
  • No paddle shifters for automatic yet
  • Rear-end styling is not so MINI
  • Ergonomics aren't great
Next: Interior / Exterior »
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