Our long-term Mini Countryman went out for a couple of extended jaunts while I spent a few weeks on the road. Though several of the observations are similar to what I've been saying, such as comments about its often jarring ride, some of the drivers had some interesting observations to make..

Truck Trend online editor and noted Mini fan girl Melissa Spiering packed her boyfriend, dog, and their gear for a 1000-mile trek to Arizona and back, and had plenty of room for everyone and everything they packed thanks to the Countryman's decent 41.3 cubes of space with the rear seats folded. As a Mini owner, Spiering is used to the smash and crash, and actually "found the ride quite enjoyable and loved feeling every bump in the road; the dog on the other hand thought the stiff suspension interfered with her beauty sleep." Sorry Mel, we're with the dog on this one.

One other interesting callout from Spiering was her gripe about the side-view mirrors, which are placed too far down on the door for her tastes. They do sit awfully low, and it's more of an issue on the passenger side, when the bottom of the mirror can be cut off depending on driver height and seating position.

Associate online editor Erick Ayapana had a chance to take the Mini out for a canyon-carving expedition in the hills above L.A. and came away with good vibrations. "The Countryman is a blast to drive. I'd say it's just as fun as the new Mini Coupe I drove recently," opined Ayapana. In fact, he liked it so much, if he had to choose from one car in the Mini stable, it would be the Countryman due to its overall space and livability. It speaks to how well Mini engineers similar DNA into every car they build, from biggest to smallest.

During his fun run, Ayapana found the Countryman plenty responsive, with the 1.6-liter, 181-horse turbo overcoming the added heft and all-wheel drive system. While not initially a fan of the steering-wheel mounted shift buttons (neither am I), he got used to them, and reported that with Sport mode engaged the six-speed auto did an acceptable job of engaging aggressive downshifts and holding gears up to redline.

The annual Coachella music festival in the desert near Palm Springs was visual assets manager Brian Vance's destination with the Countryman. It easily held his camping gear while at the same time its relatively compact dimensions gave him plenty of extra space in the vehicle's camping spot.

Being the desert, the temps broke 100 degrees, and the Mini kept him cool as a cucumber, although the battery didn't take too kindly to extended charging of his iPhone. And in an improvisational stroke of genius, he removed the cargo area floor and used it as a serving table.

The bottom line? The biggest Mini can haul the mail, and haul butt at the same time. Despite what the purists may say, the Countryman is a car Mini had to do, and by all accounts, they've done it pretty well.


Our Car
Months/miles in service10/17,829
Average Fuel Econ 23.8 mpg
CO2 Emissions 0.82 lb/mi
Energy consumption 142 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems Occasional acceleration stumble
Maintenance cost $0 (oil change, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0