2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

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$6,839–$14,215 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Distinctive Mini design
  • Relatively roomy interior
  • Easier backseat access than regular Cooper
  • Turbo's performance potential

The Bad

  • All-wheel drive not offered on base model
  • Risks offending Mini purists
2011 MINI Cooper Countryman exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

  • New for 2011
  • Four conventional doors
  • Manual or automatic
  • Available turbo four-cylinder (S)
  • FWD or AWD

2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

When Mini entered the market in 2002, its Cooper coupe appealed to Americans with its style and size at a time when bigger was still seen as better. That alone would have been enough to bring the brand success, but the car went on to exceed sales expectations because of how it drives.

If Mini's first crossover — the Countryman — succeeds, it will be due more to its style and versatility than for the driving experience for which Minis have become known among enthusiasts.

Just the idea of a crossover SUV from Mini seems like an oxymoron. Can a larger Mini still be a Mini? I'll answer that question about every aspect I can. I drove every possible combination of the Countryman's drivetrains and trim levels at a national media introduction in Austin, Texas; the car arrives at dealers in January.

Mini has four models. Because I'll be making comparisons, I'll call them the Coupe, the Convertible, the Clubman and the Countryman. The Coupe is the original two-door. The Convertible is a ragtop version of the Coupe, and the Clubman is an extended Coupe. The Countryman is the small crossover, new for 2011. Mini is certain to object to my names, as the company calls everything a Cooper or Cooper S, tacking the most important distinctions — Convertible, Clubman and Countryman — onto the end. Look with fresh eyes and you'll agree that Cooper and Cooper S are little more than trim level names for each body style, based on what engine it h...

When Mini entered the market in 2002, its Cooper coupe appealed to Americans with its style and size at a time when bigger was still seen as better. That alone would have been enough to bring the brand success, but the car went on to exceed sales expectations because of how it drives.

If Mini's first crossover — the Countryman — succeeds, it will be due more to its style and versatility than for the driving experience for which Minis have become known among enthusiasts.

Just the idea of a crossover SUV from Mini seems like an oxymoron. Can a larger Mini still be a Mini? I'll answer that question about every aspect I can. I drove every possible combination of the Countryman's drivetrains and trim levels at a national media introduction in Austin, Texas; the car arrives at dealers in January.

Mini has four models. Because I'll be making comparisons, I'll call them the Coupe, the Convertible, the Clubman and the Countryman. The Coupe is the original two-door. The Convertible is a ragtop version of the Coupe, and the Clubman is an extended Coupe. The Countryman is the small crossover, new for 2011. Mini is certain to object to my names, as the company calls everything a Cooper or Cooper S, tacking the most important distinctions — Convertible, Clubman and Countryman — onto the end. Look with fresh eyes and you'll agree that Cooper and Cooper S are little more than trim level names for each body style, based on what engine it has.

From here on out, we're doing it my way. Each of the four names will represent that model's base trim level, and S will be the higher trim level. Mini might never again invite me to high tea, but you'll thank me for this.

Full specifications aren't available as we publish this review, but the Countryman has a base list price of $21,650. The S version starts at $25,250, and the S with Mini's All4 all-wheel drive starts at $26,950. The destination charge is $700. You can check out available options here.

The Look is Mini

No one will mistake the Countryman for anything but a Mini. Casual observers might think it's a regular Mini car, but anyone who gets close enough will recognize its larger size. The four doors are also a dead giveaway. The headlights are a bit more bug-eyed than those on the cars, and they're more like eyes than ever, because adaptive headlights are available for the first time on a Mini. With that option, the headlights aim in the direction of a turn, effectively looking where they're going.

The standard alloy wheels are 17 inches, and 18s are optional. You can also get 19-inchers from the dealer. Like Mini's cars, the Countryman offers a slew of accessories for customizing the vehicles, including exterior decals and other cosmetic upgrades.

The Size is Mini

I know it's larger than the other Minis, but in its class this crossover is a small one, with just four seats. The upcoming Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a likely competitor, and some will say the same of the Nissan Juke, though the Nissan seems more like a four-door hatchback. The Countryman is 15.1 inches longer than the Coupe and 5.8 inches longer than the Clubman. It's a few inches taller than its siblings and has the raised look of a crossover.

For the most part, I was happy with the cabin space. Drivers as tall as 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 had no complaints about headroom and were reasonably satisfied with legroom, though a few of us noted that the low seats left little support for the front of a tall driver's thighs. Raising the manually adjustable seat would help, but before I got it as high as I wanted, the rearview mirror began to block my forward view. The passenger seat's pedal-free footwell made for greater leg extension and comfort. It raises and lowers, too. The door armrest feels a little too far outboard, but I suppose that means there's extra room that larger occupants will appreciate.

The Mini cars all have backseats, but legroom back there comes only via the generosity of front-seat occupants. The Clubman has been the roomiest to date, and now the Countryman delivers adequate legroom without demanding a sacrifice from the folks in front. Again, the floor height had my knees raised a bit, but it was plenty comfortable regardless. Using a canvas loop on the inboard side of the seat, you can recline the backrest. The two bucket seats also adjust forward and back to increase cargo space if small passengers, or no passengers, are in a rear seat.

The cargo area is covered by a liftgate, like the Coupe, rather than two opposing side-hinged doors, like the Clubman. The cargo cover is the brand's familiar rigid one, which rises up on strings along with the liftgate. The volume behind the backseat is 12.2 cubic feet, though you can squeeze up to 16.5 cubic feet out of it if you slide the rear seats forward. If you fold those backrests down flat, the maximum volume is 41.0 cubic feet, according to Mini. For comparison, the next-largest Mini, the Clubman, offers minimum and maximum cargo volumes of 9.2 and 32.8 cubic feet, respectively. As the table below reflects, the Countryman's space is on the lower end of comparable small crossovers, greater than the Juke but smaller than the Outlander Sport and others.

2011 Small Crossover Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)  

 

Behind backseat

Backseat folded

Nissan Juke

8.9

29.3

Mini Countryman

12.2 - 16.5*

41.0

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

21.7

49.5

Volkswagen Tiguan

23.8

56.1

Nissan Rogue

28.9

57.9

 *Volume range reflects sliding backseat.
Source: Manufacturers

The Countryman also has decent underfloor space; it's a few inches deep and almost as wide as the cargo floor itself. The rigid floor panel hinges upward and latches in place. It's a handy feature, though it's a challenge to put back down if you have anything in your arms: The release latches are far outboard, requiring two well-spaced hands.

The Interior Design is Mini

Mini's distinctive styling carries into the Countryman. Some of the whimsy remains, but thankfully all the 2011 Minis have black center controls, steering-wheel spokes and door trim, where the earlier years had silver plastic. Mini calls this color "sportier." If "sporty" is a euphemism for "less chintzy," I'll agree. It's a big improvement. Unfortunately, not all the Countrymans (Countrymen?) at the drive event had read the whole memo, because some still had glittery silver-gray plastic around the vents and such. The large oval-shaped trim on the smaller cars' inner door panels now extends from the front to the rear door on either side. It's now a piano-black finish rather than silver-gray.

The standard upholstery is leatherette, which means vinyl. As faux leather goes, it's pretty good stuff, but there are also "sportier" options, such as combination cloth-and-leather seats, as well as full leather upholstery in several designs. The fanciest is the "Lounge" style, with contrasting piping. You need to go leather if you want a lumbar adjustment, which can be manipulated via a knob on the driver's and front passenger's backrests. I was fine without it.

The optional moonroofs are Mini — which is to say inadequately tinted and shaded only by a retractable mesh fabric that doesn't do a lot of shading. Oddly enough, Mini increased the tint from 10 percent to 30 percent on all 2011 models, but it still isn't enough. Frankly, it probably would be enough tinting if you could pull an opaque shade over it. Mini says it experimented with solid shades, and they flopped about too much when driving with the roof open. Huh? I'd like a solid shade. The benefits outweigh whatever advantages (to which I'm apparently blind) of driving around semi-shaded with a moonroof open.

The Ride Is Not Mini

The Countryman doesn't ride like a Mini, and this is very good news. As much as I've enjoyed the cars, I've found the S versions practically unlivable on all but the smoothest roads. I drove all varieties of Countrymans for the better part of a day, and I was comfortable in all of them — even the firmer-riding S with 18-inch wheels. The ride quality is perhaps the biggest improvement over the other Mini models. Mini also offers a sport suspension for the Countryman, which I didn't test, so you can get a firmer ride, lower ride height and quicker reflexes if that's your thing.

I also spent some time in the backseat, where the ride quality was also comfortable. It's a crossover feel, but way more livable than some, including the backseat of the Hyundai Tucson.

The Brakes Are Mini

Braking is one of the best attributes on all the other Mini models, and it's the same story here: Strong, linear stopping power and good pedal feel. Bravo.

The Drivetrains Are Mini

The engines are Mini, by which I mean they are the same ones found in the other 2011 Minis: 1.6-liter four-cylinders, the S version of which is turbocharged.

Of course, the Countryman itself isn't the same. The base front-wheel-drive Countryman weighs in at 2,954 pounds, and the Countryman S with an automatic transmission and All4 weighs 3,252, so the acceleration isn't as good as in the cars.

The Cooper and Clubman range from 2,535 at minimum to 2,877 on the high side. The weight and aerodynamic differences result in slower zero-to-60-mph times for the Countryman: 9.8 and 10.9 with manual and automatic transmissions, respectively, and 7.0 and 7.4 for the S versions. All4 comes only in the S trim level, where it does zero to 60 in 7.3 seconds with the manual and 7.7 seconds with the automatic.

The Clubman shaves anywhere from a few tenths to almost a whole second, depending on the type and drivetrain. The lighter Coupe shaves off as much as a half-second more in the regular version and a few tenths in the S.

The transmissions are Mini, and my joy at being offered a six-speed manual at all in today's market overshadows any disappointment I have in the shifter itself, which is characteristically long, with somewhat vague shift gates. The automatic, also a six-speed, is impressive. With the turbo engine, it kicks down quickly when called upon, and though it has to work harder with the less powerful engine, as automatics always do, it's responsive enough to satisfy anyone who's realistic about how much power is truly enough. In this version, more than the S, you might prefer to drive in the DS (for Drive Sport) transmission mode, which you can activate by sliding the gear selector to the left. This automatic mode holds lower gears higher up the rev range and quickens the downshift response. You can also shift manually by pushing the lever forward and back. The S version adds steering-wheel shift paddles, too.

As in the cars, the engine power builds with rpm, and it's more pronounced in the Countryman S, where the torque starts to come on at 2,000 rpm, but things don't get interesting until above 3,000 rpm, when the S version really takes off. Mini designed the exhaust to burble and pop when you lift off the gas in Sport mode, which I love. Note that the overall Sport mode, activated by the Sport button on the center control panel, is different from the automatic transmission's DS mode. With the automatic, this button does activate DS mode, but in this and all other Countrymans it also makes the accelerator pedal more sensitive and reduces the power steering assist.

Apart from the selectable deceleration burble, one truly admirable quality is the minimal engine noise. It's quiet enough that you can accidentally drive the manual at highway speeds in 4th gear and not notice. Not great for mileage, but a great reflection of the noise treatments in the Countryman.

The Mileage Is Mini

The Mini Coupe is our go-to example of a car that doesn't feel unsubstantial yet gets great gas mileage. (Smart ForTwo, we're looking in your direction.) The Countryman continues in the same tradition, ranging from 27/35 mpg city/highway in the manual front-drive model to 25/32 in the automatic Countryman S. The All4 system gives up little, with an EPA rating of 25/31 mpg with the stick and 24/31 with the automatic. Among the new crop of even-smaller crossovers, the smaller Juke comes close, ranging from 27/32 to 25/30 mpg. The Outlander Sport ranges from 25/31 to 24/29 mpg and uses regular gas. Bear in mind that the Countryman's S versions require premium, as do the Nissan Juke and the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Handling Is Mini ... Kinda

If Mini is known for one thing, it's handling — the much-ballyhooed go-kart feel. Though the Clubman's longer wheelbase takes a toll on the fun factor, I can attest the Coupe is absolutely a blast to drive, and a prime example of how good a front-drive car can be, dynamically.

So, how about the Countryman? I'll commit to good, but I won't say it's great. The models I drove exhibited admirable grip, but I should note that every one of them was equipped with Pirelli Cinturato P7 ultra-high-performance summer tires. In a very rare move, Mini has made these the standard tires, which concerns me. Summer tires are a bad choice in cold temperatures, especially on ice and snow. You can get all-season tires as a no-cost option, but I wonder how many buyers will recognize the importance of doing so. Unless you live in a warm climate or plan to swap your tires out twice a year, go with the all-seasons.

My issues with the handling are twofold: The main one is the steering. Mini cars have had their issues with torque steer, especially in the turbo and (originally) supercharged versions, and the steering in front-wheel-drive cars is seldom something to get excited about, but overall I'm a fan of how well they match the Mini cars' character. The Countryman's steering is the proverbial sore thumb. It feels dead, especially on center, and though the Sport button reduces the electric power assist, all that seemed to do was make it a heavier kind of dead. Feedback is terribly inconsistent, depending on speed. The mark of excellence in a sporty vehicle is the driver's feeling of connectedness to and through the car. It's hard to feel connected to the car when you aren't sure the steering itself is.

One thing I can say for the all-wheel drive is that it practically wipes out the torque-steer problem, which seems even more pronounced in the front-drive Countryman than it is in the cars. All4 sends 100 percent of torque to the front wheels in normal driving and up to 50 percent to the rear wheels when needed. As a result, the car retains a front-drive feel with a tendency to understeer when heading quickly into a turn. The All4 helps control the understeer, but it doesn't give the Countryman a rear-wheel-drive feel, as BMW's xDrive and later versions of Audi's Quattro now do. I wish it did, even if it meant a change in character. I guess I'm saying the all-wheel drive is definitely Mini, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Another handling issue is the size. You can make a large vehicle more sporty or less sporty, but intrinsic sportiness decreases as size increases. The Countryman reflects this. The same can be said for its taller height and higher center of gravity, though body roll is nicely controlled, especially in the S trim. Naturally, the steering does nothing to alleviate the sensation of greater weight and size. Obviously, this stuff is unavoidable in a larger vehicle, but it is what it is.

The Features Are Mini

The Countryman's most unique feature is its Center Rail system, which takes the place of a center console, extending from just behind the shifter all the way back between the rear seats. With the exception of the front center armrest, which is fixed, every accessory you see attached to this channel gets snapped in wherever you want it. Buyers can choose stuff like additional cupholders, ashtrays, sunglasses cases, iPhone cradles and more. You can also choose to get your rail in two segments rather than one long one, leaving the center of the backseat's footwell unobstructed.

If this feature looks familiar, that might be because it first appeared on Nissan Titan pickup trucks and Chrysler/Dodge minivans, but those were on the ceiling, and the option to add expensive storage bins and the like didn't capture consumers' imagination. I'll be interested to see how things go this time around. At the intro, at least two of the test vehicles had iPhone holders that had been obliterated — from either center armrests or parking-brake levers that had been rammed downward. Oops.

Another cool standard feature is the cabin's ambient lighting, which glows from the door panels and the Center Rail. As with a similar feature popularized by Ford, you can choose what color you want the light to be.

An option offered with or without navigation, Mini Connected adds new functionality when combined with a smartphone — starting with an iPhone for now, with other phone types coming later. It displays album-cover artwork on an LCD screen in the center of the giant speedometer, which also lets you select streaming web radio to play through the stereo. Bluetooth audio is included, as is a text-to-speech news reader and the capacity to send pre-built Tweets. More functionality will be added, facilitated by a USB connector that enables upgrades to the system and the navigation map database — a major advancement.

How do you control all this stuff? With a joystick and two buttons between the shifter and the Center Rail. This is basically BMW's iDrive system, which has evolved from a travesty into something usable.

If you're considering the optional Harman Kardon premium audio system, be sure to give it a serious audition. The clarity is very good, but the bass response is overwhelming. It's the kind of thing that initially will impress people who "like a lot of bass," but in short order they'll recognize it as unnatural and fatiguing. Unfortunately, the bass tone control is centered on the wrong frequency to fix the situation; it sucks out too much of the nearby bass range to diminish the boom without blowing the overall sound. If there were a way to turn down the bass modules mounted under the front seats, I'd consider this system, but as it is, I'd have to pass.

Safety

An all-new model, the Countryman has yet to be crash-tested. It has six airbags, including the front pair, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtains. Standard safety features include antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control.

Sonar backup sensors with audible alerts and a graphical display on the dashboard are optional.

Countryman in the Market

Mini took the U.S. by surprise. The car whose rich British history held no real currency in our market attracted buyers with its cute look, and held onto them with surprising performance. Against all preconceptions, the Cooper turned out to be a "real" car, one that wasn't, in fact, dinky, and wouldn't blow over in a stiff crosswind. As Mini itself admits, the company's cars don't really appeal to families, but now it has a model that will. For people who always liked the idea of Mini but couldn't deal with the associated size, their ship has come in. There's more than enough Mini-ness in this more versatile model to satisfy the average potential buyer.

As for the Countryman's performance, it doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by the cars, partly because its steering needs work. The greater question is how the Countryman compares with other small, sporty crossovers. Well, there aren't too many. I've yet to drive the Outlander Sport and the Juke, and though I've heard the latter has good dynamics, you might chalk that up to its smaller size. Though the little-known Tiguan is larger overall than the Countryman, I've always found it to be a lot of fun in base form, thanks to its gutsy turbocharged 2.0-liter and six-speed manual. Its solid feel and German heritage might also appeal to anyone who's considering the German-owned English Mini.

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2011 Cooper Countryman Video

Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman. It competes with the Nissan Juke and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Latest 2011 Cooper Countryman Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.1)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.0)
Reliability
(4.3)
Value For The Money
(4.1)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Spacious yet small and quick

by Bahn11 from North Charleston on May 16, 2018

The car is great. I love the extra room for my daughters carseat and that I don't have to sacrifice the speed or how well it handles. Read full review

(5.0)

Love my Countryman

by Mommabritt from Frederick, Md on December 26, 2017

It is everything I expected. It isn’t a luxury car, it is sporty and fun. You have to drive it not set it on cruise control and glide. I get more compliments and cheers when people ride with me . Love ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by MINI

Program Benefits

Inspection by MINI Technician, 24/4 Roadside Assistance, covered by a MINI Certified Pre-Owned Protection Plan, backed by the nationwide network of MINI Dealers.

  • Limited Warranty

    5 Years / Unlimited Miles or 6 Years Unlimited Miles

    Covers your vehicle for 1 year with unlimited miles after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty. That’s coverage for up to a total of 5 years with unlimited miles from the vehicle’s original in service date. Additional plans are available to extend your vehicle’s coverage up to a total of 6 years with unlimited miles. Every MINI CPO also comes with 24/7 Travel Protection through MINI Roadside Assistance coverage for 1 year with unlimited miles.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Rigorous Inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Cooper Countryman received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker