About the same time we took our first turn behind the wheel of a Juke, we realized that its specifications are eerily similar to those of the Mini Cooper S Countryman. Length, width, and height measurements of the two cars are all within an inch of each other; both cars are powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces about 180 horsepower; and both small crossovers are available with front- or all-wheel drive. About a year later, we're well into a Four Seasons test of each model. Besides the styling, the biggest difference between the Mini and the Nissan is their price: our bare-bones, front-wheel-drive Juke stickers for $21,815, while our well-optioned, all-wheel-drive Countryman has an as-tested price of $34,350. Based on my colleagues' recent comments, though, the price tags could be reversed and we'd probably still prefer the Juke.
"The Countryman has the superior powertrain, but the Juke is a far better crossover," asserts road test editor Christopher Nelson. "It feels more spacious, it wears quirky looks much better than the Mini, and I have a lot more fun driving the Juke than the Mini."
Managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros agrees: "In the on-going battle between the two small SUVs in our Four Seasons fleet, my vote goes to the Juke. Even if price isn't a factor, I think the Juke is the more interesting, user-friendly, and fun sport-ute compared with the Countryman. The Countryman does have many good qualities -- such as less-polarizing styling and a squared-off rump that offers a bit more utility -- but the Juke is simple and easy to use yet never dull or lacking in technology."
Not everyone thinks that the Juke beats the pricier Mini Countryman, however. Associate editor Evan McCausland, for one, loves the Mini, particularly because of its more spacious interior. And he's not the only person who'd appreciate more space inside the Juke. Yours truly, the father of two small children, had a very difficult time living with the Juke for a weekend. "This is a terrible family car for someone whose kids are still in bulky baby seats," I ranted after driving 195 miles over the course of a weekend in mid-November. "It's a good thing my wife and I are short (5'6" or less), or it simply would have been impossible for the four of us to fit into the little Nissan, let alone have any space between our knees and the dashboard. We both had to move our seats up more than we prefer, and the kids were still more cramped than they should be. Perhaps because of my wife's confined seating position, she felt carsick fairly quickly, making the weekend particularly unpleasant for everyone. The Juke isn't exactly easy to drive smoothly, and I'm sure its short wheelbase and stiff ride also didn't help."
Maybe it's time to revisit that Mini Countryman ...