Used 2016 MINI Cooper Countryman Review

The 2016 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.




what's new

Other than minor revisions to optional packages, the 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman returns unchanged.

vehicle overview

When this squared-off little crossover with unmistakable Mini styling cues debuted a few years back, it came as a relief to everyone who used to grumble: "If only that Mini Cooper were a little bit bigger!" Although it's still a pint-sized vehicle by crossover SUV standards, the 2016 Mini Countryman still offers the practicality of four doors and an adult-sized backseat without giving up the charm that drew people to the Mini brand in the first place. The Countryman's elevated ride height and available all-wheel drive also shoot down another potential "if only" for shoppers in snowy climes.

There are newer crossover rivals to consider, but none can match the 2016 Countryman's quirky curb appeal.

Behind the Countryman's rear seatbacks, you'll find about twice the luggage space of the automaker's regular Cooper hatchback, notwithstanding the latter's growth spurt in current third-generation form. Although the standard 121-horsepower engine is pretty feeble, the spicier S and John Cooper Works (JCW) models feature strong turbocharged engines that we recommend stepping up to. The Countryman's sport-oriented suspension delivers the responsive handling you'd expect from a model wearing the Mini badge, albeit at the cost of the usual cushy crossover ride quality. As with all Mini models, the options list is long and deep, offering a seemingly endless array of customization possibilities.

If you're after a smooth ride and a truly spacious interior, we'd suggest looking at more traditional small crossovers like the 2016 Ford Escape or 2016 Mazda CX-5, which still handle quite well when pushed. Is your heart still set on a Mini? In that case, don't miss the all-new 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman, which now has four proper doors and lacks only the Countryman's commanding ride height and optional AWD. If you're prepared to spring for the top-of-the-line Countryman, you might also consider the all-new 2016 BMW X1. But for classic Mini character in a roomy, all-season package, the 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman is bound to hit the spot.




trim levels & features

The 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman is a small, five-passenger crossover/wagon available in base, Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels. The ALL4 all-wheel-drive system is available as an option on the Cooper S and comes standard on the John Cooper Works.

The base Countryman comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tires, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, roof rails, remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, split folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, ambient interior lighting, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button ignition, a chilled glovebox, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Cooper S version adds a turbocharged engine, different exterior trim, dynamic traction control (bundled with an electronic limited-slip differential), foglights and front sport seats. 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), special styling details and cloth upholstery.

The optional Media package adds a colorful infotainment display that nestles inside the large central speedometer.

A long list of options (including many of the higher trims' standard items for lower trims) provides seemingly endless opportunities 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 and power-folding side mirrors, satellite radio, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and a wide variety of exterior and interior trim pieces, graphics and color themes.

Also available is a Media package that adds a 6.5-inch display inside the central speedometer, a corresponding console-mounted joystick, voice controls and smartphone-app integration. A navigation system can be added for an additional fee.



performance & mpg

Under the hood, the entry-level version of the 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman gets a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 121 hp and 114 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic is available as an option, with power flowing to the front wheels either way.

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, the manual base Countryman gets a laudable 29 mpg combined (27 city/32 highway); with the automatic, fuel economy drops a bit to 27 mpg combined (25/30).

Whichever engine you choose in the 2016 Countryman, you can have that rarest of features among compact crossovers: a manual transmission.

For more satisfying performance, you can move up to the Cooper S Countryman, which uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that delivers 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive comes on the Cooper S ALL4 version. The same two transmissions are available with either configuration.

In Edmunds testing, a manual Cooper S ALL4 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a much more engaging 7.6 seconds.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Cooper S Countryman is virtually unchanged with this gutsier powertrain. A front-wheel-drive Cooper S is rated at 29 mpg combined (26/32) with the manual transmission, and the automatic version gets 28 mpg combined (25/32). Fuel economy drops slightly with ALL4: 27 mpg combined (25/31) for the manual and 26 combined (23/30) for 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 the automatic reached 60 mph in 7 seconds flat. Fuel economy ratings are the same as for the Countryman S ALL4 model.

safety

The 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman's list of 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 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 head restraints/seats (whiplash protection) tests.

driving

The 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman may be the big one in the family, but it shares many of its smaller relatives' endearing traits. With its higher center of gravity, it'll never feel as quick and nimble as a Mini two-door hatchback, but the responsive handling and precise steering still make it plenty fun to drive. The ride quality may be too firm for some people's taste, however, especially with the amped-up JCW suspension tune.

The 2016 Countryman is a hoot to drive, but the base engine is a bit of a drag. We recommend one of the turbocharged options

In the acceleration department, the 121-hp engine in the base model simply lacks the power to authoritatively move the Countryman along. All but the most price-conscious buyer should consider the more powerful turbocharged engine in the S model. As an added incentive, the Cooper S model with the automatic even earns a higher EPA combined fuel economy rating than the base engine with the same transmission.

Buyers looking to extract maximum performance from their Countryman will appreciate the extra oomph delivered by the John Cooper Works model's 208-hp engine. Ultimately, this model's principal downside is a price tag that's right up there with bigger and more powerful models like the BMW X1.

interior

Inside the 2016 Mini Cooper Countryman you'll find seating that's much roomier than in the hardtop hatchback. The rear seat feels positively cavernous by comparison, and it slides and reclines for greater comfort. Until the arrival of the second-generation Cooper Clubman, the Countryman was the only Mini model that could carry four 6-footers in genuine comfort. That's still a strong selling point given how cramped the Countryman's size peers tend to be.

The Countryman's cargo capacity isn't a strong suit by segment standards.

When it comes to cargo capacity, there are 42.2 cubic feet of space available with the Countryman's split-folding rear seatbacks folded down. With the seatbacks in place and the seats slid back all the way, storage shrinks dramatically, though it should still be enough for a grocery run. Either way, the Countryman's cargo hold is noticeably less spacious than other small crossovers; it's the price you pay for the car's tiny footprint.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the Countryman's interior is pure Mini, with all the distinctive elements made famous by the previous-generation lineup, including the oversized center-mounted speedometer and the shiny toggle switches. The downside, of course, is that the functionality of this layout often leaves something to be desired. The current, third-generation Mini cars have overhauled interiors with relatively straightforward ergonomics and improved materials, so the Countryman is a throwback, for better or worse.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.