2019 MINI Cooper Countryman Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
October 13, 2018

The 2019 Mini Countryman is a fun-to-drive crossover with sharp looks, cool interior, and a good hybrid powertrain—and none of it comes cheaply.

Brands can stretch too far.

In rare cases like the 2019 Mini Countryman, the biggest Mini on offer gets the same spunk as the adorable Cooper, applied to a more useful crossover body that mainstream buyers want. All good things.

In other cases, brandalism can end up like “Chicken Soup for the Fisherman’s Soul.”

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The 2019 Countryman gets a 5.8 on our overall scale for hooking the right stuff: it’s more comfortable and good to look at. The base engine isn’t up to task to carry the crossover, but every other powertrain is good—just not cheap. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the Countryman stands pat from last year.

The Countryman has kept the same good looks for a few years now, and has successfully ported over the Cooper’s charm to a bigger package. There are more creases on the Countryman, and bulkier shoulders and haunches to go along with the big Mini’s near-off-road mission.

Inside, Mini walked the line between likeable and gimmicky well—helped by a quality feel on all its interior parts.

A 134-horsepower turbo-3 is standard, mated to a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic. The automatic transmission is better, but we say skip all three: the 3,500-pound Mini is too much for the overburdened engine.

A better pick is the 189-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, denoted by “Countryman S” badges, that gets the same manual or automatic options. A higher-output turbo-4 is available in John Cooper Works models, but we’d almost suggest walking over to the BMW dealer next door. The same 228-hp engine is found under the hoods of the X1 and X2 crossovers, and perhaps it’s a better fit there as a luxury car.

While we’re spending all the money, Mini’s first plug-in hybrid, the S E Countryman All4, is available. It’s a turbo-3 mated to a 7.6-kwh battery that’s rated for 12 miles of all-electric range. It’s the most efficient version of the Countryman (and still fun to drive) but its starting price of more than $37,500, without options, will be too far for many.

All-wheel drive is available on every Countryman for $2,000 more, except on John Cooper Works and hybrid versions, where it’s standard.

The Countryman comfortably carries four adults with room for cargo, and it’s mostly quiet inside. Among Minis, the Clubman is our pick for spacious and cute, but the Countryman is a close second. Opting for the plug-in hybrid doesn’t ding usable space.

Three trim levels are available: Classic, Signature, and Iconic. Classic skips many options and safety features and charges for every color not called “gray.” At least a 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard.

The Signature is a better pick and opens up more options. A Countryman S with all-wheel drive will be the most popular pick, and in Signature trim will cost more than $35,000.

Want more? The Countryman slingshots past $40,000 in Iconic trim, but looking good has never come cheaply.

7

2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Styling

The 2019 Countryman doesn’t spoil the Mini’s looks with a bigger body. That’s a good thing.

Mini is always going to do well here.

The 2019 Countryman is the biggest Mini in the stable, but it’s undeniably related to the rest of the range. What works outside is complemented by a fun interior that we don’t think will age poorly. We give both points above average and land at a 7 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Countryman has bigger proportions than the Mini range, sure. But it wears those well on its bulkier frame—we wish we could say the same.

The Countryman gets a different grille and front and rear bumpers, along with a list of creases that the Cooper doesn’t get. The shoulders and haunches on the Countryman are more pronounced compared to the Cooper, and it predictably rides taller. The Countryman has more cladding than the Cooper, surface area and proportionally, which speaks to the more rugged mission of the crossover.

The plug-in hybrid version is visually identical to its gasoline counterparts, aside from a charge door near the driver’s side front fender and a badge on the passenger side.

The interior of the Countryman manages to keep the same cool as the Cooper, which is to say quirky without being kitschy.

A large, round center infotainment display dominates attention, but the Countryman loads up the details with neat additions like toggle switches and sliders for controls. It’s no longer “alien techno” weird, it’s just the right amount of cute.

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5

2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Performance

The 2019 Mini Countryman is a crossover that’s fun to drive in most configurations.

A trio of turbocharged engines in the 2019 Mini Countryman keeps pace with the rest of the crossover crowd. Mini separates from the field with an available manual transmission, which sadly doesn’t make much sense here. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is the best of the bunch, but it’s too pricey.

We give the Countryman a point above average for its superb steering, but dial back our enthusaism because of a base engine that’s overburdened with too much weight. The Countryman gets a 5 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base engine in the 2019 Countryman is a 1.5-liter turbo-3 that makes 134 horsepower and is asked to lug 3,500 pounds around via front- or all-wheel drive. A 6-speed manual is standard equipment but an 8-speed automatic is a better bet.

For those enamored with manual transmissions in everything, including an all-wheel-drive crossover with leather upholstery and navigation, here’s your chance to own one of the last of its kind. For the rest of us, the automatic is smooth and responsive and keeps the Countryman relatively fuel efficient.

Most buyers will wisely opt for a higher output 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 189 hp. All-wheel drive is more common in the Countryman, although front-wheel drive is available. Like the turbo-3, a 6-speed manual is standard equipment on the turbo-4, although an 8-speed automatic is a no-cost swap.

Mini says the turbo-4 motivates the Countryman up to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and it’s believable. The turbo-4 in the Countryman is brisk and fun to drive, a rarity in a milquetoast class of compact crossovers.

The hairy-chested uprated turbo-4 in the John Cooper Works Countryman makes 228 hp and is only paired to all-wheel drive. A similar engine is found in the BMW X1 and we like it there—and just about everywhere else, too—but in the Mini it’s more expensive than the plug-in hybrid and the added cost is a tough sell.

That plug-in hybrid is hardly a value, but it’s probably the best powertrain for the Mini Countryman. It mates the turbo-3 to a 7.6-kwh hybrid battery for 221 combined horsepower and a 12-mile all-electric driving range. Once the battery is depleted, the S E Countryman All4 is a hybrid rated at 27 mpg combined, although its operation is hardly normal.

The S E Countryman uses electric motors to power the rear wheels exclusively, and sends power to help the fronts. It’s a system commonly called a “through the road” hybrid setup, and it manages to make the Mini more fuel efficient without sacrificing its fun.

The Countryman is hardly as nimble and agile as the Cooper hardtop, but the big Mini is still entertaining to drive.

The Countryman uses Mini’s tuning magic and MacPherson struts up front to deliver a sharp drive that’s as close to the Cooper as the extra 1,000 pounds will allow. It helps the Countryman feel smaller than its big body would indicate.

Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system can shuttle power between the front and rear axle in less than a second, operating nominally as a front-driver until slip is detected. It’s a slick system that reduces parasitic loss with a hang-on clutch, although we’d hesitate to take the Countryman any further than a muddy field.

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2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Mini Countryman is a usable family crossover with good room and space for four adults.

The big Mini is a better Mini, at least when people and cargo are a concern.

The 2019 Countryman can easily carry four adults, and we like its seats better than the related BMW X1.

Starting from an average score of 5, the Mini Countryman gets points for its good front seats and luxury feel. It earns a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The front seats in the Countryman have better thigh bolstering and more sculpted bottom cushions, compared the the BMW X1. Sport seats are available but cost $2,000 more as part of a leather upholstery package.

The rear seats are better and offer 37.6 inches of leg room in the back. Two adults will fit fine, three if you must, although tall riders will want to call “shotgun” early and often.

Behind the second row, the Countryman offers 17.6 cubic feet of cargo room that expands to 47.6 cubes with the seats folded nearly flat.

The Countryman plug-in hybrid batteries don’t eat into usable cargo space—mostly because they’re not that big. A wall charger folds neatly underneath the floor, and the hybrid is just as functional as the regular versions.

Like other Minis, the Countryman asks a premium price for its look and it’s mostly justified. The novel switches and toggles feel solid and add color to an expressive interior. One note: The metal switches can heat up in the summer with the dual-panel sunroof open.

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2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Safety

The 2019 Mini Countryman lacks a complete set of safety data.

A limited set of official crash-test scores means we don’t rate the 2019 Countryman for safety. We’ll update this space if that changes, but it’s not likely considering the small numbers of crossovers that Mini sells. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Only the IIHS has rated the Countryman for crash safety, and its scores are mostly good. The Countryman earned top “Good” scores on all its tests, including the driver-side small overlap crash test. The insurance industry-funded group rated the halogen headlights on the Countryman “Poor” on base trims, “Marginal” when equipped with LEDs.

Federal regulators haven’t tested the Countryman at all.

In the absence of official results, Mini packs eight standard airbags into the Countryman including two front, two side, two side-curtain, and two knee airbags if things go pear-shaped.

Automatic emergency braking is standard on trims above base, but the IIHS said the system merely reduced the speed of impact by 7 mph in low- and high-speed tests and Mini’s forward-collision warning system doesn’t meet federal criteria to be rated by the agency.

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5

2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Features

The 2019 Mini Countryman isn’t your average crossover in its features and looks—nor in its price.

Quirky and cool, the 2019 Mini Countryman is a compact crossover the skips the cookie-cutter look. It has a look all its own, like the Mini Cooper, but shoppers should beware that cool comes at a cost.

The base equipment on the 2019 Countryman is mostly average, although good features are available. The Mini Cooper gets a point above average on our scale for its options, but loses one for asking too much compared to its rivals. It gets a 5. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, Mini offers “lines” for its Countryman: Classic, Signature, and Iconic.

The Countryman Classic gets a 6.5-inch touchscreen, 17-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-panel sunroof, synthetic leather upholstery, and dual-zone climate control for $27,750, including destination. Good luck finding any of those on dealers’ lots for that price; any color other than gray costs $500 more. Aside from color quibbles, Countryman Classics aren’t available with many options that we think Mini buyers will want.

We’d turn to the Countryman Signature that starts at $31,750 and adds 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, parking sensors, and a standard automatic transmission instead. Paint doesn’t cost more for the Signature trim level either, which helps justify the $4,000 premium. Signature trims get more available options, including an uprated 8.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay ($1,700), leather upholstery ($2,000), or a convenience package with more power plugs, armrests, and fold-out picnic cushion or spare tire ($1,250). The latter includes equipment that other automakers don’t charge for in many cases, although that picnic cushion has a certain appeal.

A steady hand can keep a base Countryman below $33,000, although opting for all-wheel drive ($2,000), the bigger engine ($4,000), or both, can blow any budget into the next time zone.

All-in, a Mini Countryman can easily crest $40,000, and a plug-in hybrid Mini Countryman SE can easily extend past $45,000.

Mini bundles many of its best features in pricey packages: helpful parking sensors are included with a head-up driver display that’s not-so helpful, and automatic emergency braking isn’t even available on base trims.

The good news is that Mini’s infotainment system is adapted from BMW’s and it’s mostly good. Opting for the larger display with included navigation is a worthwhile option, it’s clear and sharp and includes a suite of connectivity features and a wireless phone charger. Apple CarPlay is included with the bundle, and it runs wirelessly, although it cuts down the screen to roughly 60 percent of its usable size with a large “dead zone.”

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5

2019 MINI Cooper Countryman

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Mini Countryman is on par with competitors for fuel economy, a pricey plug-in hybrid is more efficient but hardly more economical.

The 2019 Mini Countryman offers a surprisingly large menu of powertrain options, but most of are rated within spitting distance of each other for fuel economy. There’s just one exception to that rule, which we’ll explain later.

The 2019 Countryman nets a 5 out of 10 for fuel economy on our ratings, skewed toward the 2.0-liter turbo-4 that we think most buyers will consider. All versions of the Mini Countryman are rated for premium fuel. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the Countryman with a turbo-4 and front-wheel drive at 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined. Adding all-wheel drive cuts 1 mpg from those numbers, across the board.

Opting for a 6-speed manual sinks those numbers further: 21/30/24 mpg.

The turbo-3 base engine in the Countryman isn’t any more fuel efficient. In fact, with front-wheel drive, the turbo-3 is rated identically to the turbo-4: 23/32/27 mpg. With all-wheel drive, the EPA rates the turbo-3 at 23/30/25 mpg.

A manual transmission is available for the base engine and it’s rated roughly the same.

The most efficient Countryman is also the most expensive. The plug-in hybrid Countryman rates 27 mpg combined but can drive 12 miles on electricity alone, which can stretch fuel dollars further—provided the $11,000 cost for the plug-in hybrid above the base version isn’t too much already.

Many compact luxury crossovers are rated closely to the Countryman: the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40 are rated around 26 mpg combined.

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$26,900
MSRP based on Cooper FWD
 
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5.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 MINI Cooper Countryman Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Countryman is here; 2018s are sold out
  • Rebates: Up to $1,000 cash back
  • Lease: From $309 per month for 36 months
  • Finance: From 2.9% APR for 72 months
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