The subcompact-crossover segment is rapidly expanding, with several new challengers reaching the market this year alone. While some models are focused on practicality and all-out affordability, the 2016 Jeep Renegade and the 2016 Mini Countryman are designed to appeal to your eyes with bold, unique styling. Of course, they also offer other benefits such as a lot of equipment, reasonable pricing, an excellent driving experience (the Mini) and surprisingly good off-road capabilities (the Jeep). But which one is better? We’ve created a close comparison of both models in order to find out. But first, let’s see what’s new with the Renegade and the Countryman for the latest model year.
2016 Jeep Renegade
Released last year, the Renegade sees only minor changes for 2016: a newly available Beats audio system and newly available automatic wipers. See all 2016 Jeep Renegade models available near you
2016 Mini Countryman
The Countryman is unchanged for 2016. See all 2016 Mini Countryman models available near you
According to reliability experts at J.D. Power, the Mini Countryman offers below-average reliability. Because it’s so new, the Jeep Renegade has not yet been rated for reliability, though it’s worth noting that the firm’s popular Jeep Cherokee hasn’t received stellar scores so far. Still, the Renegade is mechanically unrelated to the Cherokee, so it may offer completely different reliability.
As for warranty length, it’s a mixed bag — the Renegade touts 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage, while the Countryman offers 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage with no additional powertrain protection. As a result, this category is a toss-up, at least until we have reliability figures for the Renegade.
The Renegade offers two engines. Base models use a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Only offered with a 6-speed manual, it touts up to 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 180-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which is rated for up to 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.
Meanwhile, the Countryman offers three powerplants. Base models use a 121-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission; it returns up to 27 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. For more power, drivers can upgrade to the S model, which touts a 181-hp turbocharged version of the same engine; it returns up to 26 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. Topping the range is the high-performance John Cooper Works model, which boasts the same fuel economy as the S despite a bump to 208 hp.
Although those are a lot of numbers, the conclusion is clear: The Countryman offers better gas mileage than its Jeep rival, despite more available power.
Neither the Countryman nor the Renegade has been crash-tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Renegade has also not yet been tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though the Countryman earned Good ratings in each of the firm’s challenging crash tests.
As for safety features, the Jeep towers over the Mini. While the Countryman offers everything you might need, such as side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, the Renegade goes above and beyond by offering many modern safety gadgets, including rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-keep assist and more.
Assuming the Renegade does well in its crash tests, this one is a no-brainer to us: If you want safety, you’ll want the Jeep.
As you might have expected from our safety section, the Renegade has a huge leg up over the Countryman in terms of technology. A lot of this has to do with their on-sale dates: The Countryman has been on the market for about 5 years, while the recently released Renegade was designed with all the latest gadgets and features in mind.
Regardless of the Renegade’s technology triumph over the Countryman, the Jeep has some serious advantages, such as Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect infotainment system, a plethora of safety features you can’t get in the Mini and even other unique upgrades, including a Wi-Fi hot spot. While the Mini isn’t too far behind the times, the Jeep is at the forefront of them and, to us, easily beats out the Mini to win the technology category.
If you’ve never driven the Countryman, you might consider the Renegade to be one of the sportiest models in this segment, especially since its available 180-hp engine easily trumps rivals such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. Handling is good but not great, while the off-road-oriented Trailhawk model is basically the only vehicle in this segment you can feel comfortable taking off the pavement.
The Countryman, however, is a cut above. Like all Mini models, it offers direct handling, communicative steering and little body roll in the corners. Although it stretches the definition of SUV to call the Countryman one, we’re comfortable saying it is among the best-handling SUVs on the market, especially the high-performance John Cooper Works model with its excellent sport suspension. If you want performance, you want the Countryman.
Although the Renegade and Countryman offer similar dimensions and similar attention-grabbing designs, they’re surprisingly different vehicles, and the one you’ll pick depends largely on your preferences. If you’re a value-conscious shopper interested in getting the most bang for your buck, go with the Renegade. It offers more equipment than the Mini, and its $19,000 starting price undercuts the Countryman’s base MSRP by more than $4,000. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for style, performance and a status-friendly brand name, you’ll probably prefer the Countryman over the Renegade.