- MINI spirit
- Interior trim improvements
- Useful rear seat
- Abundant personalization options
- Connectivity features
- Electric steering feel
- No paddles on automatic
- Rear-end look undefined
- Busy controls and dash
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.
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.