2017 Countryman New Car Test Drive
The 2017 Mini Countryman all-new and significantly larger than the crossover SUV the BMW subsidiary offered for 2010-2016.
Built on a wheelbase that's increased by 2.9 inches, this second-generation Countryman is nearly eight inches longer overall. Detail work has changed, but the new model doesn't look much different than its predecessor.
Beneath its enlarged Mini body, the Countryman is built on a platform borrowed from the BMW X1. Engines and suspension components are shared with the BMW. The Countryman is also related to the Mini Cooper Clubman, but the Countryman body is taller and seats are slightly higher, and the two models share no body panels.
More refined in its new form, the Countryman has turned into a more serious vehicle. Like other Mini models, thankfully, it's still chock full of personality and character, as well as sensational handling capabilities.
Countryman offers a choice of two turbocharged engines. In the base Cooper, a 1.5-liter three-cylinder develops 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder goes into the Cooper S version, cranking out 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet.
Front-wheel drive is standard with either engine, but ALL4 all-wheel drive is available. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, but an 8-speed automatic transmission may be substituted. (For the front-drive three-cylinder, a 6-speed automatic is the option.) Helpful for harsh-weather traction, ALL4 all-wheel drive isn't meant for authentic off-road treks.
No Countryman has been crash-tested by either the federal government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. All versions include eight airbags and a rearview camera. Two valuable safety features are available in an option package: adaptive cruise control, along with forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.
Two additional Countryman versions joined the lineup for 2017, led by a high-performance, sport-oriented John Cooper Works offshoot. Developing 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is borrowed from BMW's X1. All-wheel drive is standard, an upgraded sport suspension is installed, and a body kit produces a distinctive visual image.
Available as a 2018 model is a plug-in hybrid: the Cooper S E ALL4, fitted with the base three-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. The gas engine powers front wheels. Rear wheels are propelled by the hybrid system, which uses an electric motor and lithium-ion battery. Total system output is 221 horsepower, sent to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The plug-in hybrid can travel up to 24 miles powered solely by electricity.
The 2017 Mini Countryman Cooper ($26,600) has the 1.5-liter engine, front-wheel drive, three-cylinder engine, seating for five, leatherette upholstery, panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and 17-inch wheels. Cooper ALL4 ($28,600) adds all-wheel drive and heated seats. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $850 destination charge.)
Cooper S ($31,200) gets the more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, LED headlights and foglamps, sport seats, and 18-inch wheels. Cooper S ALL4 ($31,700) adds all-wheel drive and heated seats to Cooper S.
John Cooper Works ALL4 ($37,800) is the sport-performance edition, holding a 228-horsepower engine.
2018 Cooper S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid ($36,800) has a gasoline/electric powertrain, and can be plugged into an electrical outlet for recharging.