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The Countryman has a standard PostCrash iBrake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Niro doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
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 has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Niro doesn’t offer a front parking aid.
The Countryman has standard Assist eCall, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Niro doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
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, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.
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.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.
The Countryman S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 50 more horsepower (189 vs. 139) and 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The JCW Countryman’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 162 more horsepower (301 vs. 139) and 136 lbs.-ft. more torque (331 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.
As tested in Motor Trend the MINI Countryman is faster than the Kia Niro:
Zero to 60 MPH
The Countryman has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (16.1 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
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.
The Countryman Auto’s optional launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Niro doesn’t offer launch control.
The Countryman stops much shorter than the Niro:
60 to 0 MPH
60 to 0 MPH (Wet)
For better traction, the Countryman has larger tires than the Niro (225/55R17 vs. 205/60R16).
The Countryman’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Niro LX/LXS/EX Premium’s standard 60 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Countryman has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Niro LX/LXS/EX Premium. 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.
The Countryman offers an optional space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Niro; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.
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 LXS 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 LXS (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).
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.
The Countryman has .4 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more rear legroom than the Niro.
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.
To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Countryman’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Niro doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.
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.
The Countryman’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Niro’s parking brake has to released manually.
The Countryman’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Niro’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully. Only its driver’s window closes automatically.
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 power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Niro’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
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.
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.
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 Touring/Touring Special Edition/EX Premium.
The Countryman’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to 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 by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Niro doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The Countryman will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Countryman will retain 45.61% to 52.4% of its original price after five years, while the Niro only retains 40.77% to 42.14%.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Countryman first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Niro isn’t in the top three.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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