Sunday, October 14, 2018

2019 MINI Cooper Countryman S E AWD Plug-In Hybrid: he Brand's Only Alternative Fuel Vehicle

Highlight: This is MINI’s only electrified vehicle.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $45,750 (Base Model: $37,750)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; a stability control system; run flat tires; automatic headlights with rain sensing windshield wipers; review camera; rear parking distance control audible alert system; and a tire pressure monitoring system 

Standard Equipment (Base Model): 17-inch tires; a 6-speed manual transmission; electric brakes a remote keyless entry system; a keyless ignition system; manually adjusted front seats; leather-like seats; rear seats with split folding seatback; an automatic a/c system; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; roof rails; and heated mirrors with washer jets; a panoramic roof; 6.5-inch infotainment screen; and a rearview camera

Standard Equipment On Plug In: 18-inch wheels; 2.0-liter/221-hp; all-wheel drive; a twin turbo engine paired with an electric motor; LED headlights three driving modes: sport, mid and economy; fog lights; a panoramic roof; heated front seats with additional bolstering for the front seats (AWD model only); a dual zone automatic climate control system; heated mirrors with washer jet; a leather steering wheel; keyless entry front door access; and run flat tires

Options: Sport Edition: power folding mirrors, a power tailgate, a universal garage door opener, a keyless entry system, black roof rails, a panoramic roof, heated from seats, an automatic climate control system, LED exterior lighting, an active driving assistant, a Harmon/Kardon premium audio system and all-season tires Touchscreen Navigation Package: AppleCarPlay Compatibility, wireless charging and a navigation system JCW Appearance Package: 18-inch wheels, a leather steering wheel, a rear spoiler, John Cooper Works aero kit and a headliner in anthracite; an exterior package; and a plug-in special edition

Other Trim Level:


Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker audio system AM/FM/HD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Plug-In Powertrain Warranty: 8 years or 80,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder/134-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Electric Plug In: Yes

Standard Hybrid Mileage: 65-city/27-combined

What’s New: With the second generation Countryman plug-in hybrid joining the line up during the 2018 model year, there are no major changes this year. However, the gasoline MINI is now powered by a larger engine.

Why: The all wheel drive MINI Countryman is available in three trims. The eccentric vehicle is also MINI’s only alternative fuel vehicle. Since the vehicle only has a 12 mile driving range, the gasoline engine kicks in after the electric charge has been utilized, giving drivers an additional 270 miles of driving.

And although the engine sounds like a lawnmower, when idling, surprisingly, the MINI plug-in is powered by a hearty 221-horsepower engine, which produces 284-feet pounds of torque.   

Exterior badging, plug in capabilities, as well as the green interior lighting strips carefully place throughout the vehicle readily identifies this MINI as being certified green.

The Countryman in hybrid or non hybrid form continues to be the roomiest of all of the MINIs. The front seats were designed for maximum comfort. They reminded us of the airplane like power 30- way articulating seats found in an *1,000 Lincoln Continental we reviewed earlier this summer.  As far as the additional room, this oversized Cooper is almost a whopping 8 inches longer and 3 inches wider than its typical British sibling. The extra length and width now allows the vehicle to compete against crossovers, which are car-based utility vehicles.  Because of the additional length, the rear door is larger and there is slightly more legroom in the rear seat room.

While the iconic vehicle was reworked inside and out last year, both the engineering and design teams have managed to maintain the style, distinctiveness and driving dynamics that make this vehicle popular.

Out of all of the MINIS, the Countryman offers the most standard equipment out of all of the vehicles in the brand’s portfolio. The Countryman includes everything from a keyless entry system to a backup camera.

In addition to the new styling, the oversized icon is powered by two new engines, a 3-cylinder, a 4-cylinder engine and a plug-in.

The Countryman can be outfitted with such features as a power sunroof and a technology package.

This plug-in MINI also qualifies for a federal tax credit, which helps to lower the price by $4,000. There may be additional savings through one's local municipality.

But: While this is MINI’S largest vehicle, we’re wondering why the rear seat does not include a center armrest. We know it is an optional feature. And it still a tight fit for those who opt to squeeze into the rear seating area. The legroom is limited.

Added to that, for consumers seeking the latest driving aids, such as a forward collision braking system, a lane keep assist system or a radar- activated cruise control, they’ll have to look outside of the MINI brand. While we're focusing on safety aids, the keyless door system does not allow the rear doors to be unlocked with opening the front door and using the power door lock switch and/or referencing the remote control.

Moreover, we were disappointed that this vehicle is only able to run off of 12 miles of electricity, before the gasoline engine kicks in. MINI should not only enhance the driving range for the plug-in, but also expand this technology to other vehicles in the portfolio. With the premium fuel requirement, the additional surcharge that is added to the cost of buying a plug-in and the mediocre gas mileage, the better buy would be a non plug-in hybrid. MINI should consider Lincoln's strategy pricing the hybrid the same as the gasoline models until they're able to enhance the driving range on their plug-in.

Lastly, satellite radio should be standard on this vehicle, a $45,750 vehicle without satellite radio is somewhat unimaginable these days.

Verdict: While the iconic vehicle has grown in size significantly, making this the largest MINI ever, this year it is available as a plug in. Unfortunately, because of the limited battery range and the time it takes to recharge, one needs to justify the cost versus the benefit.  With that said, the vehicle still manages to maintain its character and fun to drive nature. Yes, there is no mistaken this foreign icon for anything else, but a MINI 2.0.

Competition: No direct competition, since plug-ins are so limited.

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