2014 MINI Cooper Countryman Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
August 12, 2014

The 2014 MINI Countryman puts the brand's fun-to-drive spirit into the body of a versatile compact crossover.

The 2014 MINI Cooper Countryman is the maximum MINI, the largest car in a surprisingly numerous lineup of variations on the modern iteration of the classic rollerskate-on-wheels minicar. But the Countryman isn't a small hatchback; it's a five-door compact crossover utility vehicle, the only one in the lineup with optional all-wheel drive, and perhaps the furthest form the brand's origins.

That said, the Countryman is also the vehicle that will bring MINI tens of thousands of new customers who love the MINI brand but need the functionality of a crossover utility. And it delivers an endearing look wrapped around a feature-packed interior, which combine to offer a modern take on the idea of a small utility vehicle--shrinking the bulk (somewhat) without cutting too deeply into capability.

There's no doubt upon seeing the Countryman that it's a MINI, though side-by-side, you'd be hard-pressed to point to similarities. This styling magic captures the overall MINI effect in a completely different form, but still rings true to the brand and the vehicle's purpose.

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With three performance levels from Cooper to Cooper S to John Cooper Works, plus available ALL4 all-wheel drive, there are many ways to outfit a Countryman. Both manual and automatic six-speed transmissions are also available. If you're after maximum bang-for-the-buck, the Cooper ALL4 might hit the spot; the John Cooper Works ALL4 is the hotshoe's seat.

Cargo space is an inevitable compromise of the Countryman's compact exterior dimensions, but with an typical sedan's trunk behind the rear seats and up to 40 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, there's still enough space for even a busy daily routine.

On the safety front, the 2014 MINI Countryman hasn't been tested yet, but it does offer a strong set of standard safety equipment. Last year's model earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, too--and this year's Countryman is mechanically and structurally identical.

As with any other MINI, the array of equipment and appearance combinations for the Countryman are essentially endless. Well-configured in base form, but upgradeable to a number of high-tech and luxury features, there's a Countryman for almost anyone--but beware the bottom line as you tick all of the boxes.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Styling

The 2014 Countryman manages to capture the MINI essence despite its size and tall-wagon proportions.

The MINI Countryman doesn't exactly look like what we've come to know as a modern MINI, but it doesn't not look like it, either. There are some similarities of proportion and style, but parked beside each other, the differences are obvious.

That said, the MINI Cooper Countryman in its many forms, including S, ALL4, and John Cooper Works cuts a unique figure. Sure to stand out from the crossover crowd in any office parking lot, the aggressive front-end, wide grille, flared fenders, and trim dimensions combine to give a sense of fun and athleticism not often found in the segment.

The lines themselves are modern and sculpted, but the upright nose, short hood, floating roof, and big round headlights are variations on MINI traditions.

The interior of the Countryman is, like its Hardtop and other counterparts, quirky. Big circular gauges dominate the information displays, while ovals, levers, and switches form the rest of the control theme. MINI wings flutter throughout the cockpit.

New for this year on all Countryman models is a John Cooper Works appearance package, which lets buyers add the sporty style of the JCW model without the added expense of the performance upgrades.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Performance

Fun and nimble, the Countryman is one of the most engaging crossovers available.

The Countryman might not be the MINI-est of MINIs, but it still follows the brand's familiar rubric: base model, Cooper S, John Cooper Works. Except the Countryman throws in a crossover special feature: ALL4 all-wheel drive.

The five-door body of the Countryman varies only in accoutrement; each model's chassis is fundamentally the same. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all of the engines are 1.6-liter four-cylinders, both normally aspirated and turbocharged. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available on all models.

The base Countryman gets 121 horsepower from the sans turbo version of the engine, getting it to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. If that seems slow, it is; a Prius is a bit quicker. Using the Sport button improves the responsiveness of the automatic-transmission version, but it lacks paddles for driver engagement.

Upgrade to the Cooper S if you'd like a dash of sport with your quirky crossover, as its 181-horsepower rating from the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder gives the Countryman a much-needed sense of pep. The Cooper S Countryman scoots to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.

The 211-horsepower John Cooper Works Countryman is where the fun is to be had, though. Zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds isn't much quicker than the Cooper S, but a sharper setup and appearance helps get the most out of the Countryman's performance potential.

All-wheel drive in the form of the ALL4 system is available on Cooper and Cooper S models, and is standard on the JCW Countryman. It's not intended for rugged off-road use (nor is the Countryman itself) but it does enhance traction in low-grip situations like gravel roads, snow, or rain. An electronically activated differential splits power 50:50 front-to-rear in normal driving, and up to 100 percent rearward when traction fails in front. An electronic limited-slip differential is standard.

All MINIs are comparatively light and nimble for their segments; the Countryman is no different, except that it is very different--from other MINIs, at least. The height and weight of the Countryman are noticeably greater than that of the standard MINI. Accordingly, the go kart-like feel is traded for something more like hatchback-like feel. Ultimately, however, that's markedly sportier and nimbler than most other crossovers, compact or otherwise. Electric steering delivers rather positive feedback, the Countryman's brakes offer good bite and pedal feel, and ride quality is good for a fairly short-wheelbase vehicle.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Comfort & Quality

A small exterior means the Countryman is a bit short on cargo space, but passenger room is good, and the center rail is gone for 2014.

Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the MINI Countryman is reasonably roomy inside. Up to four adults can sit in comfort, though the second row won't have much extra space.

Up front, 99th-percentile head and hip room plus wide and adjustable seats means it's easy for almost anyone to find a comfortable position.

New for 2014 is a removal of the "center rail" interior feature in all Countryman (and its coupe cousin, the Paceman) models, replacing it with a standard double cup holder in the second row. The new cup holder includes a 12-volt charging/power outlet.

Seating in the back of the Countryman changes for 2014 as well, with the three-position bench seat remaining, but the two-person bucket seat arrangement no longer offered. Headroom is ample in the second row, though leg room comes at a premium for taller passengers.

As for cargo, the space behind the rear seats is just 12.2 cubic feet--about the size of a small sedan's trunk. With the rear seats folded down, that space grows to 40 cubic feet. That makes room for more stuff, but the small height and width of the cargo space prohibits many large objects.

Fit and finish in the Countryman is good, initially, with mostly quality materials and an attractive, if busy, design. Over time, however, we've noticed the Countryman, like other MINIs, has a tendency to develop persistent squeaks and rattles.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Safety

Not yet crash-tested, the 2014 Countryman offers good standard safety equipment and a strong safety record.

With nearly four years under its belt, the MINI Countryman hasn't been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested the newest Countryman, and given the 2014 model a top rating of "good" in all crash-test categories--though no Top Safety Pick award this year. The IIHS rated the 2013 Countryman a Top Safety Pick.

A high seating position and plenty of glass means visibility is generally very good with the Countryman, despite the thick roof pillars.

The Countryman offers a fair suite of standard safety equipment, including: airbags; anti-lock brakes; stability and traction control; and the mandatory tire pressure monitoring system. All-wheel drive is available (on ALL4 models), as are adaptive headlights and rear parking sensors.

More advanced safety technologies, such as blind-spot monitors are missing from the options list.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Features

From high tech to high style, the MINI Countryman can be configured and customized however you like.

As with any MINI, the base models offer the essentials, but are otherwise a blank canvas for your personalization and equipping desires. If your desires mount too quickly, however, the add-ons can quickly balloon the price into luxury-sedan territory.

A new City Pack package for 2014, available on all models, includes an alarm system, power-fold mirrors, heated mirror and wash jets, auto-dimming mirrors, rear park distance control and more. A single premium package is available, bundling the dual-pane panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing automatic headlights, and automatic climate control, plus more.

All Countryman crossover models come with standard cruise control, air conditioning, and power accessories (windows, doors, locks). An AM/FM/CD player with MP3 auxiliary input is also standard, as is cloth upholstery. Upgrades available across the Countryman range include leather seats, heated seats, and a panoramic sunroof.

Each trim level also brings with it some features upgrades; the Cooper S adds sport seats, a contrasting roof, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and satellite radio. Cooper S options include a Harmon Kardon sound system and an anti-theft alarm. ALL4 models also get fog lamps. The John Cooper Works Countryman comes standard with ALL4 all-wheel drive.

Navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, HD Radio, push-button start, a trip computer, and a dizzying array of appearance and style accessories are also available to add to your Countryman.

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2014 MINI Cooper Countryman

Fuel Economy

The MINI Countryman's light weight and small size make it a surprisingly green option in the crossover segment.

The 2014 MINI Countryman has some unique advantages in the gas mileage department compared to most crossovers. Its compact size and attendant relatively light weight make it easier, and more efficient, to move around.

The result is an EPA rating of up to 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway for the base engine and manual transmission combo; the automatic drops it to 25 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. The Cooper S Countryman with front-wheel drive scores 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway (manual) or 25/32 mpg city/highway (automatic).

The most capable Countryman, the Cooper S ALL4, and the quickest Countryman, the John Cooper Works, both rate 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway (or 23/30 mpg with the automatic).

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July 9, 2016
2014 MINI Cooper Countryman FWD 4-Door

Great car but spring for the S

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We love our Countryman. As a base model it has a lot of nice features and build quality is excellent. Great seats, materials and after 2 years it still looks great. We are a family of 5 and for trips under an... + More »
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