With its 2017 Countryman lineup, MINI has created an oxymoron: a big MINI. On its website, the automaker calls the Countryman its “largest and roomiest model yet.”
Now in its second generation, the MINI Countryman is available in six different forms, ranging from the $26,600* base Cooper to the more powerful $31,200* Cooper S to the $36,800* hybrid Cooper S E ALL4. Depending on its trim line, the Countryman is powered by a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, turbo 4-cylinder engine, or turbocharged I3 and electric motor combo. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a paddle-shiftable 8-speed automatic. Countrymans with an ALL4 badge on them send their power through MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system.
Several weeks ago, we received a 2017 Cooper Countryman ALL4 to review from the company which describes itself as the purveyor of “premium driving fun.” The Countryman would’ve been another kind of oxymoron if we didn’t enjoy being behind its wheel. It is an oxymoron, but not that kind.
2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 Exterior
The Countryman isn’t just big in terms of its dimensions relative to other MINIs. It’s big on style, too. Its 3-bar grille is flanked by large D-shape headlights outlined with thick strips of chrome. Down below, the outsize round fog lights are just as visually bold.
Our Countryman loaner’s glossy black two-level roof capped off its greenhouse area and body panels, which were coated in a handsome shade of paint MINI calls “Chestnut.” The bold black wheel arches and lower body trim pieces coordinated with the equally dark exterior pillars and side mirror housings. A set of runflat tires wrapped around the Countryman’s optional 18-inch, 14-spoke wheels.
In the rear, the juicy red tail lights were ringed with chrome, just like the headlights. Widely spaced metallic letters left no doubt as to which MINI model we were in…and driving with a smile.
2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 Interior
When we sat in the Countryman for the first time, it didn’t take long for us to notice our favorite thing about the interior: the clear dedication to a defined theme. MINI’s designers could’ve just made a functional interior and called it a day, but they didn’t. They created a cabin with a sense of whimsy relating to its numerous circular design elements, which include the steering wheel cruise control and audio button clusters, speedometer and tachometer, center screen surround, and door handle frames. Our test car’s Satellite Grey seats made its interior even more of a light-hearted and pleasant place to be.
Our Countryman’s cabin wasn’t just about looks, though. It also featured a lot of useful and convenient equipment. The optional Technology Package included a Parking Assistant, a head-up display, and real time traffic information. Thanks to the Advanced Wired Package, we had an 8.8-inch high-resolution touchscreen that we could use to access the navigation system and wireless device charging capability.
The dual-pane panoramic moonroof made nighttime driving a treat. The sliding and reclining rear seats did the same with sitting in the second row – no matter what time it was. MINI wasn’t exaggerating about the Countryman being the biggest MINI. We had more than enough legroom and headroom in the back seats. Compared to the Clubman, the Countryman has 3.3 more inches of second-row legroom (a total of 37.6 inches) and a shred more trunk space behind the rear seats (a total of 17.6 cubic feet).
2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 Performance
Given that our Cooper Countryman ALL4 didn’t have the letters S or JCW in its name, it was powered by the base engine in the Countryman lineup. The 1.5-liter turbocharged I3 generates 134 horsepower and 162 lbft of torque. Our tester routed its power through an eight-speed automatic with sport and manual shift modes, and ALL4 all-wheel drive. According to MINI, the automatic Cooper Countryman ALL4 can get to 60 mph from a dead stop in 9.5 seconds.
A ring-mounted lever around the shifter allowed us to change how the turbo 3 delivered its power. In Green mode, the Countryman was relaxed, but focused on delivering maximum fuel economy. The EPA says the Cooper Countryman can cover 23 city miles, 30 highway miles, or 25 combined miles on one gallon of gas**; we got a little over 23 mpg during our time with the jumbo MINI. Sport mode tightened the steering and made the throttle more responsive to right-foot requests. The Mid setting was just what it sounds like: in between Green and Sport. It wasn’t sleepy nor was it hyper aggressive. Most of the time we drove the Countryman, we had it set to Sport. It made zipping through traffic an addictive experience. As we jinked left and right, the steering and the Pirellis underneath us did a great job of communicating the slightest degrees of change in our forward path. Not only could we tell the MINI where to go, we could feel it change direction to get there.
2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 Safety
Wherever we went in the Countryman, we had the peace of mind that its eight airbags (including side curtain and knee airbags), rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, automatic headlights, and rain-sensing wipers provided.
The Countryman’s runflat Pirellis were capable of getting us down the road even if they were punctured and completely drained of air pressure. We know from experience. Zero PSI didn’t translate to 0 mobility when we needed to take the Countryman to a tire shop to get one of the Pirellis replaced.
2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 Overall
Prices for the 2017 MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 start at $28,600.* Our handsome review special had an as-tested price of $36,750. You can find the MINI that’s right for you – whether that’s a mini MINI like the Hardtop 2 Door or the maxed-out MINI Countryman – at an AutoNation-affiliated MINI dealership. The 2017 Cooper Countryman ALL4 may be an oxymoron, a contradiction of terms, but if you want an attractive vehicle that’s relatively compact yet has room for you and your family and friends, it may just make total sense to you.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.