2013 MINI Cooper Countryman Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

Compact on the outside, the MINI Countryman has more than reasonable space on the inside for four adults--it lives up to its contradictory status as the biggest MINI, that's for sure.

In front, there's head and hip room for everyone inside the 99th percentile, and the seats are wide and adjustable enough to fit themselves to wide bodies and narrow frames alike. The 2013 model also has a redesigned armrest, which allows the power-window controls to be relocated from the console to the armrest--and that in turn makes for a larger console storage area.

Cargo space is a bit small, but the Countryman's passenger space is quite good, and a three-row back seat's now standard.

Also this year, the second row seat is now a three-person bench, with a two-person bucket arrangement offered as a no-cost option. In either case, we've found the rear seats are just as good as those in front, with ample headroom for six-footers, even with the optional sunroof installed. Knee room isn't quite as ample as you'll find in the front seats, but the rear seats slide on tracks for flexibility between leg room and cargo space, as needed.

In its smallest configuration, that cargo hold isn't too expansive. It's just 12.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats; many sedans offer more trunk space. 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.

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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