New Car Review

2017 Mini Countryman: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2017

The 2017 Mini Countryman is the biggest Mini ever, coming in at about 8 inches longer and 5.5 inches wider than the little SUV it replaces. In the car world, those are significant gains, and they allow it to have a more spacious, functional and comfortable cabin than similarly priced compact SUVs like the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. At the same time, though, the Countryman is actually several inches shorter than both of those already diminutive utility vehicles. In other words: Yes, the Countryman is the biggest Mini ever, but it's still not that big.

Besides growing to a more usable size, the 2017 Countryman enjoys fundamental improvements elsewhere. The ride is substantially improved from that of its crashy predecessor, while still maintaining the nimble handling and driving feel people have come to expect of the Mini brand. The cabin design also retains its Mini-ness, but the controls are bit more functional, the standard feature count is up and the quality has been noticeably improved. The Countryman now looks and feels more like the small luxury SUV it's always been priced like. New, more powerful engines also round out the update highlights, although the gutsier Cooper S model remains the one to get.

So although it might not be an especially mini Mini, the new Countryman is nevertheless a very appealing one. Not just for Mini loyalists who've grown out of their Cooper hardtops, but also for anyone looking for a small luxury SUV.

What's New for 2017?

The Mini Countryman has been completely redesigned for 2017. It's bigger, more comfortable and more refined.

What We Like

Big interior given its exterior dimensions; fun to drive; quirky style; highly customizable; better value than other small luxury SUVs

What We Don't

Slow base engine; still pricey for an SUV of its size; advanced safety tech restricted to a very pricey package

How Much?

$26,100-$31,100

Fuel Economy

There are four engines available for the Mini Countryman, each of which is tied to a different model name.

The base Cooper is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that produces 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and can be had with front- or all-wheel drive (dubbed ALL4). A 6-speed automatic is optional with front-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic is optional with ALL4. Fuel economy is 25 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving with the automatic and front-wheel drive. The manual is essentially the same. ALL4 lowers fuel economy to 23 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with the automatic, while the manual improves things by 1 mpg.

The Cooper S has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard with ALL4, with the 8-speed automatic optional. All front-wheel-drive Cooper S models come with the automatic. With the automatic, fuel economy stands at 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with ALL4. The manual Cooper S is considerably worse, at 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.

The John Cooper Works Countryman also has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, but it produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. ALL4 and the manual are standard. On the other end of the spectrum, the confusingly named Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is a plug-in hybrid. It produces at total system output of 221 hp and can travel up to 24 miles on electricity alone. Fuel economy estimates for both of these models have not been announced at the time of this writing.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Countryman is available in four model lines: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and the Cooper S E plug-in hybrid. Complete information about the latter two is not available at the time of this writing, but their standard and optional feature content should mirror that of the Cooper S.

Standard equipment on the Cooper includes 17-in wheels, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, passive entry and keyless start, automatic headlights and wipers, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, leatherette vinyl upholstery, a sliding and reclining back seat, Bluetooth, a 6.5-in display screen with a console-mounted controller, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Cooper S adds 18-in wheels, LED headlights and fog lights, sport seats and the MINI Excitement package, which includes multicolor ambient interior lighting and a special multicolor LED ring around the central touchscreen ring. With ALL4 all-wheel drive, the Countryman includes heated seats.

Expect the John Cooper Works to come with a number of performance and styling enhancements.

Like every Mini, the Countryman is highly customizable, and you can order it however you'd like. It takes between one and two months depending on where you live in the country to get one.

Most options are available separately, but many of those are also bundled into packages for convenient ordering. The Cold Weather package adds heated front seats and auto-dimming, power-folding mirrors. The Premium package adds 8-way power front seats, a hands-free power tailgate, rear privacy glass and a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. The Technology package adds an 8.8-in touchscreen (with an upgraded console-mounted controller), a head-up display, app integration, an automatic parking system and wireless smartphone charging. The Convenience package adds a folding rear center armrest, additional 12-volt sockets and either a fold-out "picnic cushion" for tailgate parties or a spare tire. The aptly named Fully Loaded package includes all of the above. To that package can be added the Active Driving Assistant, which includes adaptive cruise control and a forward-collision warning and automatic braking system.

Additional options include a variety of upholstery options such as leather, special interior and exterior design flourishes, adaptive suspension dampers and satellite radio.

Safety

The 2017 Countryman comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front knee airbags, front side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. A forward-collision warning and automatic braking system can be added to the Fully Loaded package. Blind spot monitoring is not available.

Behind the Wheel

Compared to its predecessor, the 2017 Mini Countryman is far more comfortable and refined. The ride in particular sees massive improvement, going from flat-out harsh to firm yet comfortable. It's in keeping with the rest of the small luxury SUV segment in this regard, although as a Mini, it's also one of the sharpest and most enjoyable to drive.

In terms of engines, we'd highly recommend paying extra for the Cooper S. Unless you almost exclusively drive in a city, the base 3-cylinder turbo just doesn't have the guts to deal with the Countryman's added weight plus that of passengers and cargo. The 4-cylinder turbo in the Cooper S is far more in keeping for the segment and provides energetic acceleration. We also like that Mini retains the option of a manual transmission.

Inside, the back seat offers legitimate space for someone taller than 6 feet, while also sliding and reclining for added comfort and cargo versatility. Apart from the mechanically related BMW X1, no other vehicle in its class can match its interior space. The front seat can also, finally, be equipped with 8-way power adjustment. Cargo space isn't enormous, but those sliding and folding seats plus the Countryman's boxy shape make it more versatile than most.

Overall quality has also improved to the point where the Countryman feels legitimately luxurious, though it does help to opt for one of the many upgraded upholsteries or leathers available. Mini's latest infotainment screen can also be specified, and although it too features a console-mounted controller that's awkward to reach, it stands out from other Minis (and the base 6.5-in system) with a welcome touchscreen interface.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW X1 -- Of all the small luxury SUVs, the X1 is really the only one that makes a compelling case against the Countryman. Not surprising given that they're mechanically related. The X1 is a bit bigger and more powerful and has a more conventionally designed interior, but it's also pricier.

2017 FIAT 500X -- If you're considering a lower-priced Countryman, the 500X could be a good alternative. Though of lesser quality than the Mini and a bit smaller inside, the 500X nevertheless offers a similarly quirky design and character.

2017 Mazda CX-5 -- If you're mostly considering the Countryman for its fun-to-drive character, try the stylish new CX-5. You could easily find it to be more fun, actually, and it comes with more space and a lower price.

Used Land Rover Range Rover Evoque -- It too is British, and a high-style choice that offers compelling design and distinctive color schemes. It's much pricier, though, so a used model could be worth considering.

Autotrader's Advice

Order your car. Don't get stuck paying for stuff you don't want or a color combination that's not exactly your cup of tea. In one to two months, you can have the exact Mini Countryman you like -- you should even be able to get a similar price to one that's just sitting on a dealer lot. Either way, though, we would recommend getting the Cooper S due to its sufficiently powerful engine.

Find a Mini Countryman for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mini Countryman: New Car Review - Autotrader