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2012 MINI Cooper Countryman Quality

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A study in contradictions--it's the biggest MINI, after all--the Countryman nevertheless succeeds, mostly, in making space inside while taking up as little as possible outside.

The front seats are roomy, with plenty of hip and head room for all but the largest adults, and they're adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of body types with comfort. The rear seats are just as good, with ample headroom for six-footers, even with the optional sunroof installed. Knee room isn't fantastic, but it's more spacious than larger crossovers like Acura's ZDX. The rear buckets even slide on rails, trading cargo space for leg room as required.

Cargo space, on the other hand, isn't expansive. At just 12.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, many sedans offer more--in their trunks. With the rear seats folded forward, however, that opens up to a more useful 40 cubic feet, though the smallish dimensions of the area will prohibit larger hard items.

Despite its MINI package, the Countryman offers impressive space for passengers in all positions, but it lacks a bit in cargo space.

In terms of build and finish, the Countryman is very good--at least initially. Materials are mostly quality, though there may be a bit more hard plastic than you'd like to find in a car in this price range, and the assembled bits fit together well. Over time, however, like other MINIs, squeaks and rattles have a tendency to present.

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