2012 Cooper Countryman New Car Test Drive
The Mini Cooper Countryman features functionality, with four doors, comfortable room for good-sized people in back, and available all-wheel drive. It's the practical Mini, a more all-purpose vehicle than the other models. Countryman was all new for 2011, so updates for 2012 are few.
Option packages have been re-aligned for the 2012 Mini Countryman, and more personalization choices, such as a full-leather dashboard, have been added.
The Countryman retains the look and fuel economy that have established Mini as a premium brand among small cars while offering real space for four adults and substantially more cargo volume than the other Minis. The Countryman isn't as responsive as the sportiest Mini models, but it's good fun to drive and more engaging than other vehicles in its class,. It's also more comfortable than other Minis.
While the taller, larger Countryman looks a bit different than other Minis, it's based on the same underpinnings and uses the same engines. The base, 121-horsepower four-cylinder is frugal and adequate, even with the optional 6-speed automatic. The upgrade turbocharged version delivers more horsepower and more torque over a broader range, making it more responsive around town and more entertaining.
All-wheel drive is available with the turbo. Front-wheel drive is standard.
Fuel economy ratings range from an EPA-rated 27/35 mpg City/Highway for the base engine with manual to 24/31 mpg for the turbo with all-wheel drive and automatic.
Most Mini Cooper models have four seatbelts, but the Countryman is a realistic four-adult car. It has four traditional side doors, so it's easier to get in or to load kids inside. It delivers 41 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, with a third of that in the deep trunk with all seats in place. The Countryman will work for families with two small children.
The interior treatment is similar to that in other Mini Coopers. Recurring styling themes, unusual controls and stylized instruments highlight the cabin yet it's functional and quite useful.
Options, including navigation, premium harman-kardon audio, leather and wheel packages, and park-distance control, are plentiful. They can increase the base price $15,000 or more.
The 2012 Mini Countryman is available with a choice of four-cylinder engines, a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter engine and a 181-hp turbocharged version of the same engine. The turbo is available with all-wheel drive. All come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, but all are available with a 6-speed automatic ($1,250). The Sport Package adds 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler, fog lights, hood stripes, and traction control.
Mini Cooper Countryman ($21,750) is powered by a 121-hp 1.6-liter engine with front-wheel drive. It comes standard with vinyl upholstery, six-way manual front seats, sliding and reclining rear seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, power mirrors, locks and four auto-up/down windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, pushbutton start, a rear wiper, adjustable-color ambient lighting, trip computer, center-rail storage with two cupholders and a sunglass case, six-speaker audio with single CD, high-definition and satellite radio hardware, and a one-year subscription to Sirius. For 2012, carpeted floor mats are standard.
Mini Cooper S Countryman ($25,350) features a 181-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine and front-wheel drive. Countryman S adds traction control and sport seats to the standard equipment list, and is distinguished by subtly different exterior trim.
The Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4 ($27,050) upgrades the S with a full-time variable all-wheel drive system.
Option groups have been re-aligned for 2012, but the most popular extras are available in four packages. The Premium Package ($1,750) includes a universal garage-door opener, automatic climate control, Comfort Access proximity key, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, and chrome interior trim. The Technology Package ($2,000) features rear Park Distance Control, Mini Connected hands-free operation, harman-kardon premium audio and a center armrest. The Cold Weather Package ($750) adds power folding heated mirrors, heated windshield washer jets and heated front seats. Stand-alone options number in the dozens, ranging from piano black cabin trim ($250) to sport suspension ($500) to a navigation system ($1,750). Various cloth and leather interior combinations are available, with a range of paint, color and trim choices. The Mini Yours line, new for 2012, adds even more upscale choices, including a full-leather dashboard and two-tone steering wheel. (All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Standard crash-protection features include front-impact airbags, front passenger knee-protection airbag, front side-impact airbags and full cabin head-protection curtains. Standard active safety features include stability control and anti-lock brakes with cornering brake control and brake hold.
Traction control is standard on S and ALL4 and optional on the base Countryman. Other safety options, available in packages or separately, include the rear Park Distance Control and adaptive xenon headlamps ($600).