2018 Mini Countryman SE Hybrid: Update for April 2018
by Mark Takahashi, Senior Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
In the last update, I commented that we weren't using our long-term 2018 Mini Countryman SE Hybrid in the intended manner. This is a short-range plug-in hybrid best used for short commutes and occasional longer trips. In the update, I stated that "as one of the few editors on staff within the 12-mile EPA-rated electric range, I would likely be able to achieve better results than my colleagues with much longer commutes."
April was put up or shut up time.
My apartment is a scant 2.7 miles from Edmunds HQ. I signed out the Mini starting April 3 and it remained in my care until the 30th. There were six days in the month where I was on assignment and I entrusted it to Josh Sadlier, whose commute is about 6.7 miles. I made a few trips that were well outside the electric-only range, but otherwise I commuted back and forth to the office with the typical short trips mixed in. The results were telling.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
In April, we logged 357 miles on the Mini's odometer but added only 6.3 gallons of gas. That figures to 56.5 mpg if you ignore the electricity we used.
We used nothing but electrons for 185.6 miles, which is more than half of the month's distance. We still had almost a half-tank of gasoline left over at the end of the month, too. The only reason I filled up was to conclude the monthlong experiment with some meaningful data.
Average true gasoline mpg: 27.1
EPA mpg rating: 27 combined
Average electric range: 16
Best electric range: 21.4 miles
EPA electric range rating: 12 miles
Current odometer: 4,353 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The electrified Countryman is yet another BMW plug-in hybrid that lacks sauce in full EV mode. I previously noticed this in both the 740e and the 330e — keep the turbocharged gasoline out of the mix and acceleration can be downright ponderous, especially above 40 mph or so. More than anything, this reminds me of how awesome the Chevrolet Volt is for delivering robust acceleration no matter what mode you're in. Oh yeah, and it also gives you about 4.5 times the electric range of this Mini, if anyone's counting." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"When we drive the Mini, or pretty much any plug-in hybrid, we do our best to note when the powertrain switches over from EV mode to internal combustion. Most hybrid displays will show all of the pertinent information, but the Mini requires you to look at two different displays and in some different menus. I think the engineers could have put all of the info on one screen since there's plenty of real estate. For a good example, I'd point them toward the Prius' dash since it shows what's going on with the drivetrain as well as all other metrics." — Mark Takahashi, senior writer
"This Mini PHEV isn't really great for gas or EV range. It compromises both and I'd rather just have the gas version. However, I think I've figured out a way to make it bearable for me: I go hybrid until I hit gridlock and then switch to pure EV mode. Being conscious of this 'game' made the commute pretty bearable. Now I'll just have to see what kind of actual range I get." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician
"I spent a week driving our plug-in Mini on my daily commute, which covers about 7 miles each way. I don't have a charger at home, so I just charged the car up at Edmunds HQ every day. The idea was to use maximum EV mode as much as possible and see how far I could get. True to its estimated electric range of 12 miles, the Countryman never got me home and back without needing to turn on its gasoline engine. Between the limited range and limited acceleration, there's not a lot to be said for the EV aspect of this vehicle. Once the gas engine kicks in, however, it's a different story as the Countryman plug-in scoots along quite swiftly in hybrid mode, noticeably aided by the electric boost." — Josh Sadlier
"They need to move the EV switch farther away from the stop-start button. I accidentally hit that and not the EV switch. Whoops." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres
"As if the Mini knew we'd just pulled up to the charging station, it let out an 'Unable to Charge' alert before we even exited the car. Sure enough, it was accompanied by an ominous flashing red ring around the charge port.
"We gave the car some quiet time and returned 20 minutes later. The warning on the instrument cluster was still there when we opened the door but vanished upon starting the car. For now, this error remains at mogwai status. We'll report back if it changes." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing
"I arrived at the test track and decided to inhale my In-N-Out Double-Double under the rear liftgate when I saw this little plastic bit in the cargo hold. 'That's an odd place for a bracket,' I thought, just before I realized it had popped off of the cargo cover. I might try to fix it myself when I get back in this car since I've got a pop rivet gun at home." — Mark Takahashi
"Here's a minor complaint. When you return the rear seats to their locked and upright position from being folded, they don't lock upright. They lock with a forward cant, far too forward for any human to be comfortable. Compounding this issue is the release strap located right at the hinge, making it either a two-hand operation or a really awkward crane with your elbow." — Mark Takahashi