MINI's biggest entry is also its most expensive. And that vehicle? Why, it is the Countryman, of course! The 2021 MINI Countryman is unlike the other MINIs in that it can easily and comfortably seat adults in all four seating positions. You even get a reasonable amount of cargo space in the back, meaning you won't have to struggle with getting a full set of luggage or a couple bags of golf clubs in. Overall, it is more utility-oriented than the other MINIs, and this is a huge selling point for it.
There are, of course, other things to enjoy about the 2021 Countryman. This year's line-up receives a few upgrades, such as a redesigned front fascia with a new grille and new taillights for the rear. These taillights are designed to look like Great Britain's Union Jack flag - a reminder of where the MINI comes from. Inside, you get an array of more standard and optional features, including a fully digital instrumentation display that you can get as an option.
You still get last year's enhanced powertrain options with the Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works, and Cooper S E options. Since you have to pair these main trims with your choice of one of the three sub-trims (the Classic, Signature, and Iconic), you are going to have to go into your purchase with a clear plan for how you want to customize your MINI Countryman.
One of the things that will really attract attention is the use of high-grade materials inside of the cabin. A lot of other subcompacts rely on cheaper, more plastic-y materials to craft their cabins, but not MINI. The Countryman absolutely reflects its price tag with the quality of materials used to design it. And the high-performing engine options create a fun ride, so there is not too much to complain about here.
In fact, the only qualm we really have is that the engines all require premium fuel. So, yes, you will be paying a little more at the pump. Of course, if you opt for the Countryman S E plug-in hybrid, you get the benefit of having a rechargeable 9.6-kWh battery pack that goes along with the electric motor and gas-powered engine. This should save you on fuel, but you obviously will have a bigger price tag up front.
Should you add the 2021 MINI Countryman to your family? Before you decide, take a few minutes to read through this trim level comparison review. We will pit main trim against main trim, then sub-trim against sub-trim. In the end, we will let you know which Countryman trim level we think gives the average buyer the best overall deal.
Compare the 2021 MINI Countryman Cooper vs Cooper S - What is the Difference?
The first main trim level up for examination on the 2021 MINI Countryman line-up is the Cooper, pitted against the Cooper S. The base Cooper is a front-wheel drive that is powered by a 1.5-L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. This engine is paired up with a standard 7-speed dual clutch transmission and gets 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque.
The Cooper S has a more powerful engine option it offers. This model has a 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that creates a power output of 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. It too comes with standard front-wheel drive and the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. All-wheel drive is optional on either trim as the Cooper All4 or the Cooper S All4. With these, an 8-speed automatic transmission gets swapped in.
Compare the 2021 MINI Countryman Cooper S vs John Cooper Works Trim. What is the difference?
Now, let's take a look at the John Cooper Works. This engine is even more power than the turbo 4-cylinder on the Cooper S. It is the same engine but tweaked for more power output. In fact, this marks a massive power boost, as the John Cooper Works gets 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic transmission both come equipped, as do some new styling elements, enhanced bolstering on the front seats, a sport-tuned suspension, selectable driving modes, and shifter paddles mounted onto the steering wheel.
Compare the 2021 MINI Countryman John Cooper Works vs Cooper S E. What is the difference?
The Cooper S E is MINI's answer to the demand for a plug-in hybrid trim level. A 6-speed automatic transmission helps the 3-cylinder engine send power to the front wheels. Paired up with it are an electric motor and - a revision from last model year - the 9.6-kWh battery pack, which sends power to the rear wheels. All told, the combined power output for the Cooper S E is an impressive 221 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimate for the S E's pure-electric range is 18 miles, which is fairly standard for this segment. Once that charge wears out, the 3-cylinder gas engine will kick into gear. It is worth noting that the new battery charges more efficiently than the previous 7.6-kWh battery.
Compare the 2021 MINI Countryman Classic vs Signature - What is the Difference?
It is time to delve into the MINI Countryman's three sub-trims, which is where all the standard infotainment, safety, and convenience features are allocated. First in the line-up is the Classic, followed by the mid-tier Signature sub-trim level. The Classic sub-trim comes in your choice of four exterior body paint colors: Midnight Black, Chili Red, Light White, and Moonwalk Grey.
Its list of standard features is pretty significant for a base trim. It comes with a 6.5-inch infotainment system and display, a panoramic sunroof, parking sensors for the rear and an accompanying rear-view camera, and a 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel that is wrapped in leather. LED headlights and taillights come equipped, as do LED fog lights. The Classic's standard seats come upholstered in Carbon Black SensaTec leatherette fabric. Also, take note that the Classic equips the Countryman with 17-inch alloy wheels.
Other standard features include a heating function on the front seats, an anthracite headliner, and Hazy Grey interior surfaces. Active Driving Assistant comes standard with driver aids like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. You also get to use adaptive cruise control for maintaining a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. An anti-theft alarm system also helps to keep the MINI Countryman safe.
Additional features include SiriusXM Satellite Radio, white or black bonnet stripes, roof rails, and privacy glass for the windows.
The Signature sub-trim steps things up a bit. It adds several color options for the body paint: British Racing Green IV Metallic, Chestnut, and Island Blue. You also get upgraded to a touchscreen display for the infotainment system, heated front seats, Comfort Access keyless entry, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a dual-zone automatic climate control system.
Of course, being a MINI, you get even more customization options on the Signature. For starters, the roof and mirrors can be done in either the body paint, in white, or in black. You can also upgrade to 18-inch Pin Spoke Silver wheels or 18-inch Pin Spoke Black wheels - both of which come with all-season tires. Inside, you can design the cabin with the Signature Upholstery Package. Surfaces you can choose from include: MINI Yours Surface: Piano Black Illuminated, MINI Yours Interior Surface: Chestnut Brown Illuminated, Piano Black interior surfacing, or MINI Yours Interior Surface: Stone Hill Grey Illuminated. Oh, you also get a picnic cushion... just because.
A power tailgate gets added to the mix, making loading and unloading cargo into the trunk a lot easier.
You can get more from adding the Convenience Package (which includes a rear seat center arm rest) and the Premium Package (which adds on a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system, adaptive headlights, power adjustable front seats, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio). You can also add on the HomeLink universal garage door opener with a digital compass to the interior rear-view mirror.
Compare the 2021 MINI Countryman Signature vs Iconic - What is the Difference?
What can the Iconic sub-trim level add that the other two do not possess? Quite a bit. Actually, we think that MINI goes all-out on the Iconic. It gets the additional option of having the body done in MINI Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic paint. The vehicle has everything that comes in the Classic and Iconic sub-trim levels but adds several significant upgrades.
This trim level does have standard Apple CarPlay smartphone app integration. Sadly, Android Auto is missing from the line-up, so Android users cannot sync their phones with the Countryman to use their apps. The Connected Navigation Plus system does offer standard navigation, but iPhone users can choose to pair their phone's navigation app with the Countryman instead.
Two new (and larger) wheel options get added to the mix: the 19-inch Edged Spoke Wheels and the 19-inch MINI Yours Masterpiece Wheels. Again, these all come with their own all-season tires. A space saver spare tire is also included.
MINI gives you a number of additional options for customizing the Countryman's cabin. The front gets standard sport seats with a heating function. Upholstery options include: Carbon Black leatherette, Carbon Black Cord leather/cloth, Black Pearl leather/cloth, Carbon Black cross punch leather, Satellite Grey lounge leather, British Oak Chesterfield leather, and MINI Yours Lounge Leather: Carbon Black. You can also opt for a MINI Yours sport leather steering wheel or a JCW Leather Steering Wheel with multi-function controls mounted onto it. You can opt for the chrome interior trim or to leave it out. MINI Yours Interior Surface: Stone Hill Grey Illuminated gets added to the list of surface designs that you can choose from, and it looks absolutely gorgeous.
There is a head-up display that gets included, along with an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. You can also opt for a chrome line exterior trim, ALL4 Style exterior styling elements, and LED headlights that include cornering lights.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 MINI Countryman offers a line-up that is packed with choices. You can essentially make the Countryman your very own uniquely designed vehicle. It is spacious in its interior design, and there are plenty of creature comforts to be found. But there is one combination that we most highly recommend.
For the budget-minded buyer, we say go for the Countryman Cooper S with the Signature sub-trim level equipped. This middle-of-the-road combination balances the turbo 4-cylinder's excellent power delivery with the abundant list of standard features. The only thing we dislike about this pairing is that smartphone app integration is not standard. While many drivers won't mind this, some will, and it could hurt MINI a bit since its competitors almost fully offer smartphone app integration with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard across every line-up.
All4 is definitely recommended for those who live in places where slick roads present common hazards. It gives a lot more traction and stability control. But the standard front-wheel drive should work just fine for everyone else. Either way, the Countryman is a stable - and very practical - vehicle that packs in a surprisingly thrilling ride.
• Compare the 2020 MINI Countryman Trim Levels