2018 Mini Countryman

2018 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works ALL4 Review

The 2018 Mini Countryman is your best bet for a fun, zippy and highly customizable small crossover.
7.7 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Even though its beefy dimensions easily make it the largest vehicle in Mini's lineup, the 2018 Countryman keeps the playful spirit of the brand intact. With a comparatively roomy cabin and decently sized cargo area, this is the Mini to get if you plan on bringing friends along for the ride. It's also a great choice if you want a fun and highly customizable crossover with more personality than the others. Either way, new additions for 2018 ensure the Mini Countryman offers something for everyone.

Two new models — the sporty John Cooper Works and fuel-efficient Countryman S E plug-in hybrid — join the roster this year. Like other JCW variants across Mini's lineup, this high-octane thriller boosts the output of the turbocharged four-cylinder to 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. And yes, you can get it with a manual transmission. The S E plug-in hybrid is unique to the Countryman. It takes the Cooper's turbocharged three-cylinder and pairs it to an electric motor, giving it 12 miles of all-electric range. It also offers significant horsepower and torque gains while achieving the same combined fuel economy as the standard car.



What's new for 2018

The Cooper S E plug-in hybrid and high-octane John Cooper Works variants join the Countryman roster for 2018. A few interior control modifications (including a toggle switch for the driving modes and a redesigned fuel gauge) have been implemented for 2018 as well. The front-drive Cooper S is no longer offered with a manual transmission, but you can still get one with the all-wheel drive version.

We recommend

The base Countryman Cooper is a fantastic deal (it costs about the same as a similarly equipped four-door Hardtop or Clubman, but those are considerably smaller), but many will find its three-cylinder engine underpowered when weighed down with passengers or cargo. The price is quite a bit more, but we'd pay the premium for the Cooper S. The four-cylinder is up to the task of moving this rig, and its quicker acceleration will remind you why you're buying a Mini in the first place. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, the Cold Weather and Premium packages are worth adding.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Mini Countryman is a sporty and fun alternative to the standard set of small crossovers and wagons. The Countryman earns the premium price tag it carries by offering a substantial list of standard features, while a plethora of available options allows buyers to customize the Countryman to their heart's content. All four trims — Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and Cooper S E — have similar feature content but are differentiated by the engines underhood. Whichever you get, you'll be rewarded with a Mini that prioritizes passenger space and driving thrills in equal measure.

Powering the base front-wheel-drive Cooper is a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine (134 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque) matched to your choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. On the all-wheel-drive Countryman All4, the automatic transmission has eight speeds.

You get a lot of features with the Countryman, including 17-inch wheels, summer performance run-flat tires, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a heated windshield wiper system, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, adjustable driving modes, height-adjustable front seats, 40/20/40-split rear seats, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch display screen and a six-speaker audio system. Selecting all-wheel drive also adds heated front seats.

Our pick is the next-level Cooper S. It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (189 hp, 207 lb-ft) mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It also gets 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, front sport seats and additional stability control choices. A six-speed manual is standard with all-wheel drive models, with the eight-speed auto optional.

As opposed to the Cooper and Cooper S, all-wheel drive is standard on the next two models. The John Cooper Works trim adds an even more powerful version of the turbocharged four-cylinder (228 hp, 258 lb-ft); the manual is standard and the eight-speed auto is optional. Additional features include aerodynamic modifications, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension and aggressively bolstered front seats. LED foglights are not available.

The Cooper S E is quite different from the rest of the lineup. Up front is the Cooper's turbocharged three-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. In back, and driving the rear wheels, is an electric motor powered by a rechargeable 7.6 kWh battery pack. Mini says total combined output for the S E is 221 hp and 284 lb-ft. EPA estimated all-electric driving range is 12 miles. The Cooper S E's feature content is identical to that of the Cooper S, though it's the only model in the range to not have a panoramic sunroof standard.

Though all models typically draw from the same pool of options packages, the Sport package is unique to the Cooper. It includes the 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, and sport seats from the Cooper S, along with adaptive suspension dampers. The Cooper's Cold Weather package adds heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Other packages can be outfitted to all models. If you're looking for additional luxury and storage features, there's the Convenience package (rear armrest, vehicle alarm, cargo divider, and a choice between a cargo area flip-out seating cushion or spare tire) and Premium package (power-adjustable front seats, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, tinted glass, a hands-free power liftgate, and, for the Cooper S E, the panoramic sunroof). The Technology package includes a wealth of upgrades, including front parking sensors, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, a head-up display, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and an automated parallel parking system. The Fully Loaded package includes the above packages plus satellite radio and the Cold Weather package.

If appearance-oriented upgrades are more your thing, you can add many of the JCW's features to the other trims with the John Cooper Works Interior package (a unique steering wheel, sport seats (if not already equipped), a black headliner and JCW-branded decorations) and the JCW Exterior package (18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, aerodynamic modifications, and, for the Cooper and Cooper S E, additional stability control choices).

Many of the above options can be ordered separately. Additional stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, all-season tires, leather upholstery, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and exterior and interior styling modifications.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Mini Countryman Cooper S (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.7 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration7.0 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering8.5 / 10
Handling8.5 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

6.5 / 10

Seat comfort5.5 / 10
Ride comfort7.5 / 10
Noise & vibration7.0 / 10
Climate control6.5 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use6.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position7.5 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility9.0 / 10
Quality9.5 / 10

Utility

7.0 / 10

Small-item storage7.5 / 10
Cargo space6.0 / 10

Technology

8.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.5 / 10
Smartphone integration7.0 / 10
Driver aids8.0 / 10
Voice control9.5 / 10

Driving8.0

The Countryman Cooper S is more entertaining to drive than most traditional compact crossovers, but it's not as quick as luxury alternatives such as the BMW X1 and Volvo V60. It splits the difference between these two groups in most other performance-related areas as well.

Acceleration7.0

Even though this is the sporty Cooper S model, the Countryman feels sluggish at partial throttle in Green and Mid driving modes. It's not until you select Sport that it feels like it's got some pep. It doesn't rocket off the line, but we achieved a decent 0-60-mph time of 7.2 seconds.

Braking7.0

Brake pedal has a light to moderate amount of resistance, with good initial bite when you tap into the pedal. It's not grabby, however, and stopping force feels linear with effort. It came to a halt from 60 mph in 117 feet, average against standard crossovers and a bit long versus luxury rivals.

Steering8.5

True to Mini's sporting intentions, steering effort is a little heavier than in competitors. The car responds reasonably quickly, but directional changes are more immediate in Sport mode. It's stable at highway speeds, and you don't need to make corrections to keep the car tracking straight.

Handling8.5

The Countryman is more fun to zip around turns than most other cars in this class, but it's best to think of it as a sporty alternative to small crossovers and wagons rather than a large Mini. It doesn't quite live up to those expectations. Feels as if there's more body roll than in a Mazda CX-5.

Drivability8.0

The clutch is easy to operate, with a catch point just off the floor, so you barely have to ease up before forward movement ensues. The clutch pedal isn't heavy either. Shifter throws are a little long and rubbery, but it's easy to find the right gate. Cruise control reduces set speed when turning.

Comfort6.5

The Countryman exhibits a degree of comfort that is surprising given Mini's sporting reputation. The ride is rarely choppy, and the cabin is fairly quiet. The rear vents help keep rear passengers happy. The aggressively bolstered front seats and heat-trapping upholstery are major drawbacks.

Seat comfort5.5

The side bolsters on these seats are thick and keep you in place during hard cornering. But the seatback and bottom are narrow, forcing you to rest your legs on the thigh bolsters. Many people will find them too confining. Non-sport seats are only available on the Cooper and hybrid.

Ride comfort7.5

The ride is surprisingly comfortable, even with large 18-inch wheels and run-flat tires. It feels a bit livelier than some competitors, but it's supple by Mini standards. Adaptive dampers are available if you want to choose your own adventure.

Noise & vibration7.0

There's not much wind noise, and even tire noise is reasonably quelled. The sunroof covers rattle if they're closed and you hit a bump, but move them slightly out of place and that'll disappear. The engine stop-start system sends a shudder through the cabin when it kicks on.

Climate control6.5

Auto climate control has to work hard to cool the cabin and counteract heat radiating from the panoramic sunroof on a hot day. Temperature adjustments are in 2-degree increments. Seats don't breathe well, but the cloth/faux leather coverings may still be better than non-cloth seats in warm climes.

Interior7.0

The Countryman boasts a sense of roominess that you won't find in other Minis. There are thoughtful touches such as an instrument panel that moves with the steering wheel and folding rear headrests. There are some ergonomic issues, including an awkwardly located seatback tilt lever and lumbar knob.

Ease of use6.5

Most things up front are easy to reach, from the toggle switches to the infotainment system controller. The awkward lumbar knob, on the inboard side of the seatback, is an exception. The door-mounted armrests are at a perfect length, but there's no rear center armrest.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The Countryman has a step-in height that's slightly taller than that of high-riding hatchbacks such as the Mercedes GLA-Class and BMW X1, so you don't fall into the seat when you enter. That said, ingress and egress aren't quite effortless; large seat bolsters can make it hard to exit the front.

Driving position7.5

The front seats allow plenty of fore, aft and height travel, ensuring drivers of any size will be able to find a good position. Eventually, that is, since the headrests are angled too far forward and the clutch pedal travel is long, making it difficult to find a comfortable setup initially.

Roominess7.0

There's an abundance of headroom up front, even with the panoramic sunroof. Shoulder room is lacking due to the aforementioned seat bolsters. There's decent legroom and headroom in the back, and the front seatback is sculpted for extra kneeroom.

Visibility9.0

All windows are tall and wide, and there's even a large window in the rear three-quarters portion to minimize blind spots. A standard rearview camera is nice but unnecessary given the ample window openings. The bump on the hood makes it tough to figure out where the right side of the car is.

Quality9.5

Inspired interior design and high build quality elevate the Countryman above the usual selection of compact crossovers and even give the luxury brands a run for the money. Molded plastic on the upper door panels, a soft-touch surface on the dash, and cloth on the door make it feel premium.

Utility7.0

While the cargo area is a bit small for the class, the floor sits well below the top of the back seat, so you can load tall items without encroaching on rear visibility. There are limited storage solutions for those in the back because there's no armrest or flip-out tray behind the center console.

Small-item storage7.5

There are large cutouts in all the doors, each split in two sections. Both sections will hold a bottle of water. There's a small tray in front of the shifter and a bin under the armrest for front occupants. There's no fold-down center armrest in the back, which would normally house a tray.

Cargo space6.0

The cargo area is wide and boxy, with a liftover height that's a couple inches lower than in a typical crossover. It measures 17.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 47.6 cubes with them folded; both figures are small for the class. A nifty LED light in the back helps you find stuff in the dark.

Child safety seat accommodation8.5

There are four LATCH anchors, two on each of the outboard seats. There are easily accessed, located under clearly marked flip-up covers. There's one tether on the back of each portion of the 40/20/40-split rear seats. You'll have to pop the cargo door or remove the cargo cover to access them.

Technology8.5

The newest version of Mini's user interface is attractive but seems to be a bit more cumbersome to use than in previous iterations. The maps, however, are less cluttered than before. Voice controls work well, with natural voice commands. Many advanced safety features are available.

Audio & navigation7.5

The Countryman's central display screen gains touchscreen functionality this year. Because there's so much iconography (at least from the main screen), you're better off using the controller. The menus' horizontal buttons further make the case for the controller. Satellite radio frequently drops.

Smartphone integration7.0

There are two USB ports in the front: one in a bin in front of the shifter and one under the central armrest. There are no USB ports in the back. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren't offered, but some apps, such as Spotify and Pandora, are accessible through audio menus.

Driver aids8.0

A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are standard on all models. Our tester was also equipped with the Technology package, adding front sensors and a larger central screen. Park too closely to an object in front and the sensor issues a loud alert even if you're not in gear.

Voice control9.5

The voice controls are excellent. The system recognizes natural speech rather than forcing the user to travel down a path of predetermined phrases. The navigation function can redirect to a similar house number if it can't find yours in the system. Siri Eyes Free is available for iPhone users.

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.