4WD MINI Countryman to Offer Best Fuel Economy in Crossover Segment

MINI used the big stage at the 2010 New York Auto Show to show off the Countryman 4WD small crossover in the US for the first time. As far as I know, the Countryman will be the world’s smallest crossover when it hits showrooms early next year. It’s so small, in fact, that it essentially qualifies as a new market segment… I’ll take a shot at naming it right now: how’s “minicross” for you?

No official word on mileage yet from MINI, but they say it will offer the best fuel economy in the crossover segment. Which likely means higher than 30 mpg, as that’s what the upcoming Ford Edge with Ecoboost is expected to get on the highway. But there are many ways manufacturers can represent their numbers to claim “best fuel economy” in a particular segment, so we’ll just have to wait on that one.

The MINI Countryman will have three powertrain options choose from: the Cooper, the Cooper S or the Cooper S with MINI’s 4WD technology, ALL4. The Countryman will be the first crossover on the market to feature a turbocharged and direct-injected engine with VALVETRONIC technology, which MINI claims provide optimum performance and efficiency.

Just like every MINI, the Countryman should be a kick to drive… and it’s big enough that young, sporty families could use it as a family car. I think MINI’s hit onto something here with the Countryman, and given the wholesale shift we’re seeing in the market towards smaller, quality, and more feature-rich vehicles, MINI seems well positioned to be a major player. Last year MINI had the 2nd most sales in the US it’s ever had while almost every other automaker was in the crapper, so the tide seems to be trending in their direction.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.