Inside The 2019 MINI Countryman: A Crossover That Is Anything But Small
Few people seem to know that the MINI brand is actually produced by BMW. Yes, the same company known for making luxuriously fast sedans and flashy SUVs capable of glamming their way across the country. However, that’s not to say the MINI doesn’t hold its own in the compact hatch segment. And yes, Charlize Theron drove one in The Italian Job. We suggest a more practical use for your MINI than as a getaway car — but we won’t judge!
In all seriousness, we’re going to take a closer look at the 2019 MINI Countryman, the largest offering in the MINI lineup. With four doors and almost double the size of standard MINI, it’s a healthy rival to the Fiat 500, the Honda Fit, or the Toyota Yaris, to name a few. We’d include the VW Beetle, but that cute dome-shaped model is being quashed after 2019.
So if you’re in the market for a new compact car with some pep in its pipe, check out the 2019 MINI Countryman, or any of its pint-sized brethren. BMW will thank you.
While the storage space of the MINI Countryman might seem limited, the powertrain options are not. These four-door MINIs can be purchased as either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (depending on which trim level you select), and one of three different transmissions: the 6-speed automatic, the 6-speed manual, or the 8-speed automatic. Both the 1.5-liter and the 2.0-liter blocks are turbocharged, and there’s even a hybrid electric variant comprised of the turbo 1.5-liter inline-3 paired with an eDrive electric motor.
Numbers on the 2019 MINI Countryman vary based on the pairings you choose. For instance, the 1.5-liter inline-3 puts out 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Choosing the 2.0-liter means you’ll have 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque at its lowest point, 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque in the John Cooper Works model, and 221 combined horsepower and 284 combined lb-ft of torque in the electric variant.
Customers should note that the 1.5-liter engine can be paired with any of the three transmissions, but the 2.0-liter block is limited to the 6-speed manual or the 8-speed automatic.
Trimlines and Features
MINI offers many different options for its 2019 Countryman lineup. The most important thing to understand about how MINI organizes their add-ons and accessories is that the models are differentiated by engines, with trim levels designated as “Classic,” “Signature,” and “Iconic.” Let’s dig deeper to find out more.
Basic models such as the Cooper and Cooper ALL4 share the same engine. As you might have guessed, the “ALL4” designation denotes an all-wheel drive transmission. The Cooper S and Cooper S ALL4 work the same way. The Cooper Works and Cooper Works ALL4 models, named after John Cooper, are slightly tuned, while the Cooper S E ALL4 represents MINI’s contribution to the “green” section of the automotive universe.
Customers can choose which options they’d like to load onto their MINI Countryman after selecting their engine and transmission pairing. Those who opt for the “Classic” trim will enjoy a 6.5-inch display with a panoramic roof, rearview camera and parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth seats, and 17-inch wheels.
In the “Signature” trim you’ll find heated seats, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry, and dual auto climate control. The “Iconic” package brings Apple CarPlay (sorry Android users, no luck here), leather seats, LED headlights and tail lights, 19-inch wheels, a power tailgate, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen display to the mix, topped off with a Harman/Kardon premium sound system and navigation.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Countryman as top-tier “Good” in all of their crashworthiness tests — pretty solid for a smaller vehicle. However, they did have an issue with the headlight configuration, stating that they could have been designed to provide better illumination and visibility in the dark.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the 2019 Countryman. However, there are a number of additional safety upgrades available, like Active Driving Assistant (which provides “Front Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Speed Limit Information, High Beam Assist and more”) and Parking Assistant.
With so many powertrain options, it’s a bit hard to make sense of the Countryman’s gas mileage. Obviously the more powerful engines burn through gas a bit quicker, and that’s before we even consider the hybrid version of the car. Here’s the breakdown:
First, we’ll talk the 1.5-liter turbo inline-3. With a front-wheel drive manual transmission, it achieves 24 city and 33 highway EPA-estimated MPG. The 6-speed automatic transmission lowers the highway MPG to 32. All-wheel drive versions are slightly lower, at 22 city and 32 highway MPG for the manual and 23 city and 30 highway MPG for the automatic transmission.
Next, we’ve got the 2.0-liter inline-4 block. It still achieves decent numbers, at 23 city and 32 highway MPG for a front-wheel drive automatic model, with all-wheel drive models coming in at 21 city and 30 highway MPG for manual transmissions and 22 city and 31 highway MPG for those equipped with the automatic.
John Cooper Works models, tuned a bit higher in terms of horsepower and torque, will achieve 21 city and 30 highway MPG with the 6-speed manual and 22 city and 30 highway MPG in the automatic variant. Finally, the 1.5-liter engine paired with an electric motor assist achieves 27 MPG combined on gas only, or 65 MPGe with the help of hybrid power.
How the 2019 MINI Countryman Compares
We mentioned a few competitors in the beginning of this article, but let’s discuss the MINI Countryman on its own first. Consumer Reports adores the MINI’s “fun-to-drive nature,” but found the road and wind noise at higher speeds to be annoying, if not obnoxious at times. It was also concerning that the accessories available could increase the base sticker price from around $28,000 to over $40,000. That’s quite a range when you start to factor in family and low-end luxury sedans.
Edmunds experts appreciated that the voice control available on the Countryman worked well but found issues in the seating arrangements. They recommend the Cooper S equipped with the Signature trim, for both the powertrain pairing and the interior comforts available. Finally, Kelley Blue Book notes that historically, “the Countryman has held its value quite well against the competition,” so if you’re ever looking to trade the MINI up for something else, chances are you’ll be in the black instead of the red.
- Plenty of powertrain options
- Compact yet capable
- Manual transmission available
- Limited advanced safety features
- Small cargo area
- Additional options can quickly increase sticker pricing
The Last Word
The 2019 MINI Countryman is an economical, peppy, comfortable option for those who reject larger SUVs for more practical, maneuverable vehicles. With a gas-sipping powertrain and plenty of room for you and your brood, it’s a no-brainer for your budget as well (as long as you don’t go all-out on upgrades and optional features). If you’re not convinced, stop by your local MINI dealer for a test drive. You might be pleasantly surprised.