What Is It?
The MINI Countryman is the largest MINI on the market — and one of the smallest SUVs. Essentially a lifted-up, 4-door, all-wheel-drive version of the standard MINI, the Countryman debuted for the 2011 model year. Now, for 2017, it’s getting fully redesigned.
While the changes may not look substantial to the casual observer, MINI fans are likely to notice the revised front and rear styling, along with a few nips and tucks throughout the body. More obvious is the updated interior, which uses the same general appearance as the outgoing MINI’s cabin but adds a more grown-up feel and higher-quality materials. The latest Countryman also offers a roomier cabin than its predecessor did, largely due to a 2.9-inch stretch to its wheelbase.
But the biggest changes are under the hood. One is the addition of a plug-in hybrid model, dubbed the Countryman E, which will use an 87-horsepower electric motor capable of propelling the small crossover 24 miles before the gasoline-powered turbocharged 3-cylinder engine kicks in. The 2017 Countryman’s other powertrain offerings are a 134-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder and a 189-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in the S model, with a 6-speed manual or a 8-speed automatic transmission offered on both.
MINI hasn’t yet announced prices, but we wouldn’t expect a huge increase over today’s starting MSRP of around $23,800 for a base model.
When Can You Get It?
The base-level MINI Countryman and Countryman S will go on sale in March, while the plug-in hybrid Countryman E will reach dealers in June.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
The Countryman is a crossover for shoppers interested in four things: an exciting driving experience, great gas mileage, luxurious appointments and tiny dimensions. While other automakers have tried to create small SUVs to mimic or rival the Countryman in these categories, no other brand has been as successful as MINI at creating a small, luxurious crossover that’s both fun to drive and fuel-efficient. Surprisingly affordable pricing rounds out the list of reasons why you’ll want to consider the Countryman if you’re looking for a new compact SUV.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 BMW X1 — Because of MINI’s ownership by BMW, the Countryman shares a lot of parts with the BMW X1. And while we haven’t yet spent any time in the new Countryman, we suspect the two models offer similar driving experiences.
Used BMW X3 — If you like the Countryman’s enjoyable driving experience but want a little more power (and a little more room), you might want to consider the larger and more muscular BMW X3. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model.