When you've been test-driving nearly every new vehicle on the market for as long as I have, you get to the point where you mostly know what to expect. Not that I or most other veteran car reviewers make up our minds about new products before we drive them, but certainly we formulate theories to go about testing once a new car lands in our driveway. More often than not, our experiments confirm our hypotheses. This can be a great triumph or a crushing let-down, but rarely does a vehicle manage to
Our long-term 2011 Mini Countryman is nearing the end of its year-long stay in the Autoblog Garage, the past six months of which have been spent bouncing back and forth between the various Detroit-based team members (and Cleveland – we mustn't forget about Herr Neff). And while we've all had plenty of time behind the wheel of the biggest Mini, this is one car that always seems to be in high demand, whether its for long road trips or just because we all really like driving the thing.
April was a busy month for the long-term 2011 Mini Countryman, with over 2,500 miles added to the odometer and a heaping helping of people and things passing through its doors. When I picked up the Countryman, I was impressed by the fact that all four of its winter tires were neatly stowed behind the front seats. However, the biggest of Mini models didn't fare so well when the rear seats were occupied.
When our friends at The Tire Rack told us they'd be sending over a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 tires mounted on 17-inch Sport Edition alloy wheels for our long-term Mini Countryman, our minds were immediately filled with images of the little blue hatchback bounding along snowy roads with razor-sharp precision and confidence. Instead, editors Neff, Paukert and myself can literally count on one hand the number of times we actually had to drive the Mini on snowy/slushy roads. So much for winte
I regret to inform you that despite what the image above indicates, Autoblog's long-term Mini Countryman will again be passing hands without having been thoroughly tested in the type of inclement weather for which it's been prepared. While we thought there was no way it would escape a February in Cleveland without slogging through weeks of snowfall, our Countryman's Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 winter tires only met the cold stuff once, and then for only a day or two before everything melted. As I
Literally two days after my last update about our long-term Mini Countryman, I found myself trudging through a snowstorm at 30 miles per hour on Interstate 94 along Michigan's west coast. I guess Mother Nature had heard my cries about not being able to test our Mini in the snow, and decided to reward me with super slippery roads and poor visibility for two and a half hours straight. Lovely.
As much as I detest the winter months here in Detroit, the truth is, I'm kind of bummed that we've only seen about a half-inch of snow so far this season. In fact, I was happy that our most recent snowfall actually started to stick to the parking lot across the street from my loft, simply so I could capture this photo of our long-term Mini Countryman with some powder on the ground. Two hours after I took this picture, it had all melted. Sigh.
After spending September in the San Francisco bay area with Senior Editor Damon Lavrinc, our long-term 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 moved to southern California during the month of October to serve our esteemed photographer, Drew Phillips. In early November, I handed Drew the keys to our long-term 2011 Jetta TDI and stole the Countryman from his driveway. He hasn't seen it since.
Our long-term 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 has served out its time in Northern California and is set to head down to LA later this month. But before it departs the sunny side of the bay, I've got some closing thoughts after a few months behind the wheel.