2019 Mini Countryman ALL4 PHEV: Fun to drive plug-in hybrid
The 2019 Mini Countryman is a delightful crossover. Jokingly referred to as "the big Mini," is offers the most interior room of all the models, but is still fun to drive, gets great mileage, and starts at a very reasonable price — around $27,000.
And then there is the plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman, which has its pros and cons.
Like all hybrids, the Countryman PHEV shifts power between a gas engine and an electric motor to increase mileage. And like all plug-in hybrids, it has additional battery capacity which allows it to be driven a certain distance on electricity alone, before switching over to a conventional hybrid mode.
On the plus side, the PHEV has more power and gets better mileage than the gas-only Countryman. It also comes standard with all-whee-drive because the electric motor powers the rear wheels, while the gas engine drives the front ones.
On the other hand, the PHEV version costs a lot more than the gas-only one. It starts at nearly $37,000 — or $10,000 more. Of course, part of the increase is because of the standard AWD, but much of it is the additional cost of the electric motor and batteries.
Federal and state financial incentives can reduce the price difference considerably, if buyers are able to take full advantage of them. But even then, the fuel savings are not as great as you might expect. The PHEV Country will only go around 12 miles on electricity alone, which is not all that much. And the EPA actually says the average mileage of the PHEV version in hybrid mode is only one mile per gallon better than the has-only one — 27 verson 26.
Obviously, if most of your trips are under 12 miles and you can recharge the Countryman PHEV frequently, it will get better mileage than the gas-only version. But it's more likely owners will drive more than 12 miles between charges, reducing the potential fuel savings. We ended up averaging a little more than 30 miles per gallon after a week of test driving.
It's probably best to think of the 2019 Mini Countryman PHEV and almost all plug-in hybrids as transitional vehicles these days. Manufacturers are under pressure from governments and consumers to "go electric" to fight climate change. They are experimenting with a variety of options and bringing as many to market as they can. Most plug-in hybrids don't yet go all that all far on electricity alone.
One exception is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan, which will go 30 miles on a full charge before switching over to hybrid mode. But it's a very large vehicle, which is why it has room for a lot of additional battery capacity. The 2019 Mini Countryman PHEV is much more fun to drive.
Our test Countryman included $8,850 worth of options, including Sport Edition ($2,900), Touchscreen Navigation ($1,700) and John Cooper Works Appearance ($2,000) packages. They added everything from heated front seats to a wireless charger to a JCW aero kit, all of which made Countryman more practical, luxurious and enjoyable.
2019 Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV
Base price: $36,900
Price as tested: $45,750
Style: Midsize crossover
Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-liter I3 and electric motor (221 hp, 284 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Modes: Green, Normal, Sport
EPA fuel economy: 65 MPGe/27 MPG (hybrid only)
Length: 169.8 inches
Weight: 3948 pounds
Final assembly point: Born, Netherlands