Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman
The 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is one of the most distinctive and entertaining small crossover wagons out there. It's hardly the most practical option in this price range, though, as other crossovers boast more room and comfort.
Sharp handling for a crossover; impressive rear seat room; fuel-efficient engines; zippy performance from S and JCW models; highly customizable.
Pokey acceleration with base engine; stiff ride; less cargo capacity than most competitors; expensive for its class.
What's New for 2015
Automatic climate control and automatic wipers are now standard. LED foglights with daytime running lights are now optional on the base Countryman and standard on S and JCW versions. Other than those and some option-package changes, the 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is essentially unchanged.
Like the idea of owning a high-riding crossover SUV but still want something small and personable? You've come to the right place. The 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is the "SUV" of the Mini lineup. Measuring about 11 inches longer and 6 inches higher than the familiar Hardtop hatchback, this crossover/wagon retains that distinctively charming Mini styling while providing more passenger and cargo room. In addition, all-wheel drive is available on higher-trim versions.
The Countryman can carry five people and about twice as much luggage behind its rear seats as the hatchback. And although it's rather petite compared with other crossovers, the rear seat is surprisingly roomy for its size. You can get it in the familiar Mini trim levels as well, including base, S and John Cooper Works. All deliver frugal fuel economy for a crossover. As the engine in the base model isn't very quick, drivers looking for more spirited performance will likely want to move up to the S or JCW version, though.
As you would expect from a Mini, all versions feel delightfully nimble when driven through tight turns. The trade-off for the Countryman's sharp handling, however, is a relatively stiff ride. If that's a concern, you'll probably want to stick with a more traditional and roomier -- though still sporty -- crossover like the 2015 Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5. The smaller Nissan Juke would be another interesting alternative, as would this year's new four-door Mini Cooper four-door hatchback (although it doesn't come with all-wheel drive). At Countryman JCW prices, you might even consider the new 2015 Audi Q3 or BMW X1. Ultimately, the Countryman is a niche offering, but it's pretty ideal if you want a vehicle that's fun to drive, highly customizable and still somewhat practical.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is a small, five-passenger crossover/wagon available in base, Cooper S, Cooper S ALL4 and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels.
The base Countryman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, automatic climate control, six-way manually adjustable front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, full power accessories, cruise control, ambient interior lighting, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button ignition, a chilled glovebox, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio and USB/iPod and auxiliary audio jacks.
The Cooper S version adds a turbocharged engine, different exterior trim, dynamic traction control, foglights, sport front seats and a rear spoiler. The latter four items are also available as options on the base model. The Cooper S ALL4 adds all-wheel drive.
The high-performance John Cooper Works model is similar to the Cooper S ALL4, but features a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension (optional on base and S versions), cloth upholstery and special styling details.
A long list of options -- both stand-alone and within packages -- provide a lot of potential for customizing the Countryman. Highlights include 18- or 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio, a premium 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a wide variety of exterior and interior customizing trim pieces, body graphics and color themes.
Also available is the Mini Connected package, which features a 6.5-inch display inside the central speedometer, a corresponding console-mounted joystick, voice control and smartphone app integration. A navigation system can be added to the Mini Connected interface at an additional cost.
Powertrains and Performance
The base version of the 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman is powered by a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched with a six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic, with power going to the front wheels.
Mini estimates that the base Countryman accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds with a manual transmission and 10.9 seconds with an automatic, which is subpar for a small wagon or crossover in this price range. On the other hand, according to EPA estimates, a Countryman with a manual gets very good fuel economy of 30 mpg combined (27 city/34 highway); with the automatic, fuel economy drops some to 27 mpg combined (25/30).
For more zip, you can move up to the Cooper S Countryman, which uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that delivers 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The S ALL4 version provides all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, a manual Cooper S ALL4 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a much quicker 7.6 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy remains quite strong. A front-wheel-drive S is rated at 29 mpg combined (26/32) with the manual transmission, and the automatic version is only slightly lower at 28 mpg combined (25/32). Fuel economy drops slightly with the ALL4 version: 27 mpg combined (25/31) with the manual and 26 combined (23/30) with the automatic.
The John Cooper Works model raises the performance ante further with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that generates 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard. In Edmunds testing, a JCW Countryman with an automatic reached 60 mph in 7 seconds flat; that's a good time for a small crossover but it's no quicker than the far less expensive Nissan Juke Nismo. Fuel economy ratings are the same as for the Countryman S ALL4 model.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a front-passenger knee airbag. Dynamic traction control is standard on the S and JCW models and optional on the base Countryman. Rear parking sensors are optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Countryman S stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet, which is excellent for a small wagon. The John Cooper Works Countryman was even better at a phenomenal 112 feet. In safety tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Countryman earned the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset crash tests, as well as in the side-impact, roof-strength and restraints/seats (whiplash protection) tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
You'll find the Countryman's interior is more accommodating than in the familiar Mini Cooper hatchback. The rear seat area is comparatively roomy. It also slides and reclines and has a split-folding seatback to expand cargo space. 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 rear seat all the way back and the clever flip-up trunk partition in place, the Countryman's cargo area is about twice as large as in the hatchback. Lowering the rear seatback expands cargo capacity to 42.2 cubic feet, although that's still noticeably less than larger crossovers such as the Ford Escape, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5.
The interior is dressed in distinctive Mini styling flourishes, including an oversized speedometer located in the center of the dash and Mini's overall rounded styling theme. But the Countryman is also stuck with small and sometimes frustrating controls that value form over function. The optional Mini Connected infotainment system provides a colorful 6.5-inch display, located in the center of the speedometer, and includes voice recognition, smartphone integration and, for an additional price, navigation. With compatible smartphones you can stream Internet radio, access social media and more. The iOS GoPro app even lets you control a GoPro camera from the center console screen. Mini Connected can be tricky to use, however, because of the car's control layout.
Despite its larger size, the 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman retains many of the hatchback's best traits. The steering is sporty and precise, and the turbocharged engines can deliver an invigorating burst of speed. While the Countryman is more fun to drive than many crossovers, it's a bit slower and less nimble than the Mini hatchback, and, yes, the ride is sometimes too firm.
While the base engine performs fine in the lighter hatchback, it's not up to the task of briskly motivating the larger, heavier Countryman. Unless price is your highest priority, we recommend stepping up to the S model. Its turbocharged engine gives the Countryman the extra zip it needs, and the automatic transmission version actually has higher EPA combined and highway 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 as 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 larger and stronger BMW X1.
Reviews from owners of the 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman
by Richard deSinclaire on Jun 18, 2016 Vehicle: 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman
If you're looking for an economical version of the Porsche Macan with plenty of practicality, this is the car for you. It's like the Porsche's little cousin when comparing handling, performance and styling. And, it's built to last.
by Al on Feb 7, 2016 Vehicle: 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman
Love the concept, but no power seats was a deal breaker for us... Special order was too long for delivery and too pricey...
We bought the Lexus NX 200T with all options for about $2K less than the countryman or clubman...
by rcs on Aug 11, 2015 Vehicle: 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman
I bought the All4 about 5mos ago and so far so great! It sticks to the road, am getting good gas mileage, feels solid. Get the manual transmission, the salesman congratulated me several times for making that best choice. Haven't owned it long enough to comment on reliability.
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