2013 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 versus 2014 Subaru Forester

February 22, 2013

Bottom line: We’ll leave it to you all. Will it be the 2013 Mini Cooper Countryman S All4 or the 2014 Subaru Forester Limited? Votes and comments will be collected by Victoria Manglapus at manglapusv@washpost.com and Michelle Dawson at michelle.dawson@yahoo.com. Tallies will be presented online at washingtonpost.com/cars.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The Subaru is excellent in all three categories in all kinds of weather. The Mini Cooper is decidedly more fun to drive. But we’ve driven it only on dry roads.

Head-turning quotients: The Forester is staid and stately. The Countryman? Well, Mary Anne is right. It’s much less of a “mom-mobile.”

Body styles/layouts: Both are compact, front-engine, all-wheel-drive wagons with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engines/transmissions: The Forester comes with a 2.5-liter, gasoline-direct-injection, flat (horizontally opposed) four-cylinder gasoline engine. It is linked to a continuously variable automatic transmission (no fixed gears). The Countryman comes with a 1.6-liter in-line (cylinders in a line) four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S Countryman All4; a six-speed automatic that also can be operated manually is optional.

Capacities: Both cars seat five people. The Forester easily beats the Countryman in cargo capacity — 31 cubic feet with rear seats up, compared with 16.5 cubic feet with seats in same position for the Countryman. The Forester has a larger fuel tank, holding 15.9 gallons compared with 12.4 gallons for the Countryman. The Forester can run on regular fuel; the Countryman requires premium grade.

Mileage: In the real world, both get in the neighborhood of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Safety: Both have ventilated front discs and solid discs in the rear for brakes. Both come with four-wheel anti-lock brake protection and are alike in most other respects of safety engineering — electronic stability and traction control, side and head air bags, emergency braking assistance, and emergency brake-force distribution.

Prices: Both the 2013 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 and the new Forester Limited will cost us in the neighborhood of $29,000 equipped the way we want them — connectivity for iPod and iPhone; navigation with backup camera; blind-spot monitoring. We have a question: Given the “facts” as presented, what would you do?

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