2019 MINI Countryman vs. 2018 Kia Niro

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Countryman offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Countryman’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Niro doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Countryman and the Niro 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 and front parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Countryman the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 149 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Niro has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Countryman’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Niro’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Countryman for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Niro.

Engine

The Countryman S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 50 more horsepower (189 vs. 139) and 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (207 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The JCW Countryman’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 89 more horsepower (228 vs. 139) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

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

 

Countryman

Countryman S

Niro

Zero to 60 MPH

9.3 sec

7.4 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

17 sec

15.7 sec

17.4 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

The Countryman has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (16.1 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is available on the MINI Countryman, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Niro.

Brakes and Stopping

The Countryman stops much shorter than the Niro:

 

Countryman

Niro

 

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

143 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

130 feet

152 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Countryman has larger tires than the Niro (225/55R17 vs. 205/50R16).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Countryman has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Niro FE/LX/EX. The Countryman’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Niro Touring.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Countryman can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Niro doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Countryman has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Countryman flat and controlled during cornering. The Niro’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Countryman offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Niro’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Countryman has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Niro doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Countryman S ALL4 handles at .83 G’s, while the Niro EX pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Countryman S ALL4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Niro EX (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Countryman a Mid-size car, while the Niro is rated a Small Station Wagon.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Countryman’s rear seats recline. The Niro’s rear seats don’t recline.

Flexibility is maximized at the game, campground or a drive-in theatre in the Countryman when its optional tailgating rear seats are deployed, allowing people to sit facing out of the liftgate. (Do not use while vehicle is in motion.) The Niro doesn’t offer tailgating seats.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waving your foot can open the Countryman’s power liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The Countryman’s power liftgate can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The Niro doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Ergonomics

The Countryman offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Niro doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the Countryman the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Niro can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Countryman’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Niro’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Countryman to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Niro doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Countryman detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Niro doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Countryman offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Niro doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To better shield the driver’s vision, the Countryman has a standard dual-element sun visor that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Niro doesn’t offer a secondary sun visor.

The Countryman’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia only offers heated mirrors on the Niro EX/Touring.

The Countryman offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Niro offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Countryman and the Niro offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Countryman has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Niro doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Countryman’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Niro doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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

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