This article appears in Presidents Day Auto Guide 2018
The Mini Cooper Countryman takes the petite dimensions of the Mini and stretches them into compact crossover territory. It was all-new for 2017 and the plug-in hybrid Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is all-new for 2018, rounding out the Countryman lineup.
The Mini is something of an odd duck. You look at it and don’t know whether it’s a car or a crossover. Either way it’s cute, and one you don’t see legions of on the highway. It stands out in a good way by losing the typical bubble shape of today’s crossovers.
The hybrid stands out even more for its giant can’t-miss badging just ahead of the front doors. On the passenger side it’s merely a matter of symmetry, but on the driver’s side this badge pops open to reveal the charging port. If you want a subtle plug-in hybrid, this does not fit the bill.
It’s even more distinctive on the inside, with a standard 6.5-inch circular infotainment display that dominates the dashboard even more when upgraded to the 8.8-inch version. It’s great for showing the details on the three available drive modes. Auto eDrive is for all-electric use at speeds up to 55 mph and will switch to the gas engine if the battery drops below 7 percent. Max eDrive takes that top speed up to 77 mph, and Save mode keeps the battery charge above 90 percent.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and a 65-kilowatt electric motor with 87 horsepower. There’s also a 7.6 kWh electric battery. It’s all paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Do the math and you have 221 horsepower combined with 284 lb-ft of torque, which makes for a spirited ride. It accelerates purely on electric power and can stay in all-electric mode up to highway speeds. It is plenty capable of jetting out onto the highway and merges easily into traffic, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.
Fuel economy is a good chunk of the reason you buy a hybrid. The Mini Countryman plug-in gets an EPA-estimated 65 MPGe on gas and full electric or 27 mpg combined as a hybrid. It also has an overall driving range of 270 miles with 12 miles all-electric.
It is quiet, which is no surprise in electric mode, but it continues to be quiet when it makes the switch to gas power. Often the sound of this switch is jarring, but in the Countryman it was nicely muted. There was also no annoying whine from the engine as it suddenly kicked in and found itself forced to perform at highway speed. The cabin remains at all times impressively quiet.
The Countryman has upright front seating that offers great visibility, especially for shorter drivers. Seats are comfortable with good adjustability, although the sport seats may prove tight for larger occupants. Rear seating is good if a bit stiff, with room for three. Those three best make friends, however, as it’s a tight fit. Keep it to two unless the drive is short.
Pricing starts at $36,800 with our test car coming in at $39,700. The base model comes with plenty of standard features like leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control and even heated seats, making that base price a bit more palatable.
The 2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 gives Mini fans the opportunity to combine the increased flexibility of a compact crossover with the fuel efficiency of a hybrid while still keeping that signature Mini design.