2019 Kia Niro vs. 2019 MINI Countryman

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Niro are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The MINI Countryman doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Countryman doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Countryman doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Countryman doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Countryman doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Niro and the Countryman have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Countryman’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than MINI covers the Countryman. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Countryman ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 6 times as many Kia dealers as there are MINI dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Niro’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 62 points higher than the Countryman.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than MINI vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, MINI is ranked 12th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than MINI vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 31 more problems per 100 vehicles, MINI is ranked 17th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 5 more horsepower (139 vs. 134) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 162) than the Countryman’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Niro is faster than the MINI Countryman turbo 3 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

Niro

Countryman

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.3 sec

Quarter Mile

16.8 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

83 MPH

79.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the Countryman:

 

 

Niro

Countryman

 

FWD

 

n/a

24 city/33 hwy

1.5 3 cyl. Turbo/Manual

 

FE

52 city/49 hwy

24 city/32 hwy

1.5 3 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

23 city/32 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto S

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

22 city/32 hwy

1.5 3 cyl. Turbo/Manual

 

 

n/a

21 city/30 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Manual S

 

 

n/a

23 city/30 hwy

1.5 3 cyl. Turbo/Auto

 

 

n/a

22 city/31 hwy

2.0 4 cyl. Turbo/Auto S

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Niro’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Countryman doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the MINI Countryman (3 to 7). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Countryman every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Kia Niro comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Countryman.

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Countryman doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops much shorter than the Countryman:

 

Niro

Countryman

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

138 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Countryman (106.3 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Countryman ALL4 pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Countryman ALL4 (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Countryman’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Kia Niro amounts to more than styling. The Niro has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the Countryman (.32 to .33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Niro get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Countryman (100.9 vs. 96.9).

The Niro has .2 inches more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Countryman.

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Countryman with its rear seat up (19.4 vs. 17.6 cubic feet). The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Countryman with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 47.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Niro has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Countryman only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Countryman doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Niro’s optional (except FE/LX/S Touring) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Countryman doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Niro has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Countryman.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Countryman doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Niro, based on reliability, safety and performance. The MINI Countryman isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Countryman isn’t in the top three.

The Kia Niro outsold the MINI Countryman by 83% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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