Full 2014 MINI Cooper Countryman Review
What's New for 2014
All versions of the 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman come standard with a three-passenger rear bench seat, while the rear doors now include padded armrests. Heated mirrors and washer jets are also standard across the board this year. Mini is also offering a couple new John Cooper Works-themed option packages on base and S models that provide the look of the JCW model without the expense of its mechanical upgrades.
Mini took America by storm a decade ago with its charming Cooper hatchback. But not all who were smitten with the Mini's adorable style and character could stuff their lives (and friends) within its tiny confines. Since then, Mini has launched various Cooper derivatives with added space and utility. The largest of these is the 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman, a small, four-door crossover/wagon creation.
With its Cooper-esque styling, the taller Countryman is instantly identifiable as a Mini, even if it's not all that "mini." Indeed, the Countryman is significantly larger than the Cooper, enabling it to carry five people and about three times as much cargo as the standard Cooper hardtop. Like the hatch, it is available in slow (base), quick (S) and quicker (John Cooper Works) versions, and all feel delightfully nimble when driven through tight turns. In keeping with the 2014 Cooper Countryman's crossover aspirations, all-wheel drive is an option on the Countryman S and standard on the JCW model.
Even with its extra room, the Countryman is not necessarily the most practical small crossover or wagon you can buy. To start, it's still not that big: It's about the same size as the less expensive 2014 Fiat 500L and Nissan Juke, yet it costs as much as larger, more useful crossovers like the 2014 Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. In addition, the trade-off for its sharp handling is a relatively stiff ride -- something to consider if you have a long commute to work. Then again, few of these competitors can be customized to the same degree as the Countryman (which has an extensive palette of paint and trim options), and none of them have the Mini's iconic styling.
Ultimately, the desirability of the 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman has everything to do with your priorities. If space and practicality are way up there on your list, one of the above crossovers or something like a Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen will probably be a better call. But if you merely want a Mini Cooper with two rear doors and a little extra room, the 2014 Countryman should fill the bill almost perfectly.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman is a small, five-passenger crossover/wagon available in base, S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels.
The base Countryman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels; roof rails; heated mirrors; driver-adjustable settings for steering effort and engine response; full power accessories; cruise control; ambient interior lighting; air-conditioning; height-adjustable driver and passenger seats; leatherette (vinyl) upholstery; a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and USB/iPod and auxiliary audio jacks.
The Countryman S adds a turbocharged engine, a rear spoiler, different exterior trim, an adjustable traction control system, foglights and sport seats. The latter three items are also available on the base car. The John Cooper Works is similar but has a more powerful engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and special interior styling details.
The Countryman offers a staggering number of options, both stand-alone and within packages. Some highlights include 18- or 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension for non-JCW models, adaptive xenon headlights, keyless ignition, rear parking sensors, a dual-pane sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a premium 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Also available is the Mini Connected package, which features a large display inside the central speedometer, a corresponding console-mounted controller, voice control and smartphone app integration. A navigation system can be added to the Mini Connected interface at an additional cost.
The Mini Countryman can be further customized with special body graphics and a range of different interior color schemes. The new John Cooper Works interior and exterior option packages add the intensified decor of the JCW model to base and S models without the expense of the former's engine upgrades. If you add the JCW exterior package to the S model, a sport-tuned suspension is included.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman uses a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The engine powers the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
Mini estimates that the base Countryman accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds (manual transmission) and 10.9 seconds (automatic) -- both subpar for a small wagon or crossover in this price range. EPA-estimated fuel economy is quite good with the manual gearbox, which rates 31 mpg combined (28 city/35 highway), but the automatic version isn't as impressive at 27 combined (25/30). Premium fuel is required.
The Countryman S uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, which produces 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. This engine also powers the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, but you can also get optional all-wheel drive ("ALL4" in Mini parlance) with either transmission.
In Edmunds testing, a manual Countryman S ALL4 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy remains quite strong. Manual front-wheel-drive S models rate 29 mpg combined (26/32), while the automatic is nearly as good at 28 combined (25/32). With all-wheel drive, you're looking at 27 combined (25/31) with the manual and 26 combined (23/30) with the automatic.
The John Cooper Works features a higher-performance version of the S model's turbocharged engine that generates 211 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The same transmissions are offered, and all-wheel drive is standard. In Edmunds testing, an automatic-transmission JCW Countryman reached 60 mph in 7 seconds flat -- a good time for a small crossover but no quicker than the far less expensive Nissan Juke Nismo. Fuel economy ratings are identical to the Countryman S ALL4 models.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Adjustable traction control is standard on the S and JCW models and optional on the base 2014 Mini Countryman. Rear parking sensors are optional, while the available Mini Connected package makes it easier to summon roadside assistance via your smartphone's Bluetooth connection.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Countryman S stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet: an excellent distance for a small wagon. Meanwhile, the John Cooper Works Countryman covered the same ground in a phenomenal 112 feet. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests, the Countryman earned the best possible rating of "Good." In addition, the IIHS rates its seat/head restraint "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Countryman's passenger compartment will surprise shoppers expecting the Cooper hatchback's traditionally cramped quarters. A rear bench seat that slides and reclines is standard, and unlike smaller Cooper models, the Countryman offers enough room to accommodate 6-foot passengers in both rows with the rear seats moved back.
That said, the Countryman forces you to choose between rear-seat passenger space and cargo capacity. With the backseat all the way back and the clever flip-up trunk partition in place, the Countryman's cargo area isn't much larger than the smaller Cooper Clubman wagon's cargo hold. Lowering the rear seats nets 41.3 cubic feet of maximum space ? splitting the difference between the Juke and Kia Sportage. Crossovers like the Escape and CX-5 offer more capacity still.
Styling flourishes such as an oversized central speedometer are charming reminders that the Countryman is indeed a Mini. But the wagon also shares the regular Cooper's penchant for small and sometimes frustrating controls that value form over function. The optional Mini Connected infotainment interface provides a colorful 6.5-inch display located in the center of the car's speedometer, and you're able to stream Internet radio and monitor social media via your smartphone's Bluetooth connection, though again, Mini Connected can be tricky to use due to the car's control layout.
If you've ever piloted the Cooper hardtop, the 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman will feel familiar. Though it's a bit slower and less nimble, the Countryman retains many of the hatchback's best traits, including the sporty, precise steering; the turbocharged engines' distinctive soundtrack and, yes, the sometimes too-firm ride. If you get the manual transmission, you'll likely enjoy the mechanical feel of changing gears, though the clutch take-up is not as smooth as it could be.
While the base engine performs fine in the lighter Cooper, it's not up to the task of briskly motivating the Countryman's additional mass. Unless the bottom line is your number one concern, we recommend the S model, as it's pretty much guaranteed to multiply your driving enjoyment, and the automatic-transmission version actually has higher EPA fuel economy ratings than the base, automatic-equipped Countryman.
The John Cooper Works model provides an incremental increase in athleticism and fun over the Cooper S Countryman. This hot-rodded crossover wagon is fun to toss around, even if you're just taking the scenic route to the office. Also, the JCW's ride quality isn't ridiculously stiff as it is on some other JCW Mini models. The steering effort is a little too heavy for our tastes, but no doubt some buyers will find that it adds to the Countryman's sporty personality. The main issue we have with the John Cooper Works model is the high asking price -- it's in the same territory as the luxury BMW X1.