By Cars.com EditorsApril 5, 2011
About the 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.
(upbeat music) [Narrator} Cars.com auto reviews. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com. What we have here is the less mini Mini. It's the Cooper Countrymen small crossover, but they call everything the Cooper.
The Cooper Coop, the Cooper Clubman, which is like a, an extended version and the Cooper Countryman here. Let's just call it the Countryman shall we. It's enough larger than regular Mini cars that most people recognize that's something different, but it is tall and it's what I may consider a subcompact crossover. It's not quite as big as the more common crossover. It does come with all wheel drive though. This one is front wheel drive in the S trim level. Now it's similar to the Mini cars. The front seat's pretty big. I would like a little bit more thigh support from the driver's seat though. And unfortunately when I try and raise it to compensate for that, I ended up looking straight at the rear view mirror. It actually blocks my view. Not what I would have expected in a taller Mini. People who think that mini is just a style statement don't know what they're missing. The cars have been a blast to drive. The Countryman here, similar story, but it has pros and cons. The brakes are still great. Now, originally I tested and reviewed this car in Austin, Texas where the roads were really good. I found the ride quality to be pretty good in the regular and the S trim levels. Here in Chicago I have to say, on our rough rutted roads, the ride quality is pretty punishing in this S trim level that we're driving here. So that's something you're going to keep in mind where you live, which one you're going to buy. Now in terms of handling, also good for what it is, but maybe not as good as we had expected. You feel the higher center of gravity. And there's a lot of torque steer. When you stand on the pedal, especially with the S level and the turbocharged engine, it tugs on the steering wheel a bit more than it does even in the cars. Now in terms of power, for a 1.6,liter four cylinder, the power is actually pretty good. In the regular version, you get zero to 60 in about 10 seconds with the manual transmission and 11 seconds with the automatic. They're both six speeds. Now in the S trim level which is turbocharged, you get by in about seven seconds in the manual and 7.4 seconds in the automatic. With all wheel drive, it only adds a few tenths of a second, pretty good. And all of these versions get highway mileage over 30 miles per gallon, which is quite good, even for a small crossover. Now, in terms of cargo, even though the floor here is not quite as long as it is, maybe in the Clubman, you can still fit some suitcases behind the back seats. And it's also nice to be able to slide the back seat forward as well as folded down. A lot of versatility there. Now, in terms of absolute volume, you got more here than you'll get in the Nissan Juke, which is a competitor, not quite as much as you'll find in the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Now Mini has been a beloved brand in this country for more than 10 years and that's partly because of their unique style and it's partly because of the driving experience. I suspect people that always wanted a Mini but couldn't fit into a smaller version will be happy to buy this one. In terms of the driving experience, I don't think that's going to be quite as much of a draw. <v Narrator>For more car related news, go to cars.com, for our blog KickingTires.net.