The verdict: At first blush, a generously equipped 2023 Mini Countryman seems overpriced for a subcompact SUV, but a closer examination of its upscale trim and features — along with its athletic character — makes its steep pricing more understandable.
Versus the competition: In terms of pricing and features, the Countryman hovers in a middle ground between mainstream and luxury subcompact SUVs; its one-of-a-kind retro styling and quirky cabin layout aren’t directly matched by any competitor.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: The sticker price of the 2023 Mini Countryman we recently tested checked in at $45,250 (all prices include destination). Yikes. Granted, our test vehicle was a mid-level Cooper S Countryman with all-wheel drive, which starts at $38,495, but $45K is a lot of money for a mainstream subcompact SUV. That number is comfortably in the realm of a nicely equipped luxury-brand subcompact SUV — think Audi Q3, BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA. That kind of coin can also get you a fully loaded, top-of-the-line version of a significantly larger mainstream-brand compact SUV — in some cases with a notably gutsier powertrain — and you’d still have some money left over.
Related: All-Electric 2025 Mini Cooper Hardtop and Countryman Revealed
That said, the Countryman’s near-premium features and overall aura are a step above the typical mainstream-brand vehicle’s, and forgoing some of our test car’s more upscale options will bring the Countryman’s price a little more down to earth.
Over the past decade or so, Mini has become something of a “stealth-premium” brand — not too surprising given it’s a division of German luxury automaker BMW. Along with their quirky, retro-flavored styling inside and out, most Minis are available with a long list of features typically associated with premium brands, and the Countryman is no exception. Our generously equipped test vehicle was outfitted with a dual-pane panoramic moonroof, lighted exterior door handles, puddle lights with projected Mini logos, LED headlights with cornering lamps, ambient interior lighting in multiple user-selectable colors, and extendable leg supports for the front-seat cushions. Some of these features are part of a $4,900 Iconic trim package.
The Mini brand is all about special appearance packages; new ones seem to show up every year. Case in point: Our Countryman was an Untamed Edition, which is a $1,500 package on top of the Iconic trim that adds a bunch of unique trim features — some of which are a little over the top. This edition’s signature logo is a splashy brush-script font that looks straight out of the late ‘80s, like it should be backed by a grid pattern and neon-colored geometric shapes, and I counted it in no fewer than 12 places on the car. The lavish, olive-green leather seats in our test vehicle were almost overdetailed, with textured piping and gray cloth inserts, two colors of contrast stitching, and embossed Untamed logos on stitched-on leather medallions.
The Untamed Edition also includes distinctive two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels, blacked-out exterior trim elements and an illuminated Untamed logo on the passenger side of the dash. It’s … a lot, but while this particular trim package might not be to everyone’s taste, a key component of the Mini brand is personalization. There are more options for colors, body stripes and various other trim features on the Countryman — many of the extroverted variety — than you’ll find on other SUVs.
Decent Zip, a Little Stiff
The Countryman’s standard engine is a 134-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, but S models like the one we drove get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 189 horsepower and 206 pounds-feet of torque. If 189 hp isn’t enough for you, Mini also offers a plug-in-hybrid SE and a performance-oriented John Cooper Works version of the Countryman, rated at 221 and 301 hp, respectively. Both start above $42,000.
The Cooper S’ engine has a satisfyingly sporty character, and it delivers respectable acceleration for a subcompact SUV. The exhaust note is enjoyably raspy without being intrusive (most of the time), and the automatic transmission delivers quick, crisp shifts. All-wheel-drive Countrymans like our tester get an eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic found in front-drive models.
Three drive modes for Mid (the “normal” setting), Sport and Green alter various parameters, including throttle response and the transmission’s shift points and behavior. Green mode dials in a muted throttle response and adjusts the climate-control settings in favor of efficiency, while Sport mode amps things up via sharper throttle response and higher-rpm shift points. It also automatically blips the throttle during downshifts when decelerating.
Sport mode also stiffens up the adaptive suspension, making the ride even busier than it is in the other modes. Regardless of setting, the Countryman S rides firmly; rough pavement can induce suspension reverberations that find their way into the cabin, making for a less-than-ideal ride on long trips. The upside of this Mini’s suspension tuning is crisp, nimble handling for a small SUV; the Countryman is one of the most athletic vehicles in its class. Among similarly priced rivals, only the Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo and track-focused Hyundai Kona N (discontinued with the Kona’s redesign for 2024) are similarly engaging to drive when hustling along curvy roads.
Whimsy Uber Alles
Minis wear fun, tongue-in-cheek styling touches inside and out, including taillight detailing that mimics the British Union Jack flag and a molded-in “plaid upholstery” texture on the bottom of the center console bins. Mini’s zany design philosophy extends to its control layouts, which often favor whimsy over conventional ergonomics. Most buyers will get used to these quirks fairly quickly, though; for many Mini owners, the unorthodox control-layout choices are part of the charm.