Crossover, minivan, and SUV provide superb usability and fuel economy
The 2019 MINI Cooper SE Countryman All4 PHEV is a fun wagon (MINI calls it a Sports Activity Vehicle) to drive, offers decent cargo capacity, and great fuel economy. It has EPA/DOT ratings of 65 MPGe or 27 MPG combine city/highway. Either way, it’s a winner.
Our likes, in addition to fuel use, was the Hybrid AWD system with a total output of 221 HP and 284 lb.-ft. of torque, Hybrid-specific Dynamic Stability Control, the center media display with LED and adjustable ambient lighting, rear camera with Park Distance Control sensors, roof rails, John Cooper Works sport seats, and more.
While a base MINI is priced just more than $27,000, our tester had a MSRP of $36,900 and with multiple option packages had a final price of $44,900. Some of the options we treasured included heated front seats, LED fog lamps, LED headlamps with cornering lighting, 18-inch spoke wheels, power tailgate, power/folding mirrors, and a very pleasurable Harmam Kardon premium audio system. Cargo capacity is 17.2 cubic feet.
We drove the Countryman during a snow storm on snowy/icy roadways and it handled much better than expected. Its MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension and steering capabilities allowed us to maneuver well in poor road conditions. Our only dislike was a bit too much road noise.
Oh, we like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
There’s not much we don’t like about the best-selling minivan in the U.S. The 2019 Pacifica Hybrid Limited is stylish, comfortable to drive and ride in, is loaded with creature comforts and technology, plus can transport a boatload of people, has second row in-floor storage bins (as well as multiple other storage areas), and can haul massive amounts of goods and equipment (cargo volume is 140.5 cubic feet behind the front seats and we used it all to transport two large upholstered chairs). An Active Noise Control system keeps the cabin quiet unless transporting a girls baseball team.
Our likes on the Pacifica are too extensive to list, but standard equipment highlights include second and third row Stow n’ Go folding seats for easy flat hauling, 12-volt power outlets, a 13-speaker Alpine audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, power liftgate, power folding mirrors, power sliding doors for easy access to the van, and a 3.6-L V-6 eHybrid engine that is both powerful and provides an astounding 82 MPGe or 30 MPG combined city and highway driving fuel economy. We used less than half a tank of fuel during a weeklong test.
Standard technology features are abundant and include everything from a 7-inch full-color driver info display with voice command to Uconnect 4C navigation system with an 8.4-inch display to Apple Car Play. Safety attributes include Blind Spot & Cross-Path Detection, Park-Sense Rear Park, electronic stability control, and enough air bags to protect every inch of the minivan.
Two option packages on our test totaling just $1,790 included a whooping 26 items from a 360-degree surround-view camera system to Nappa leather bucket seats to Uconnect theatre in the rear to lane departure warning, plus 18-inch all-season tires. An optional tri-pane panoramic sunroof was also an option for $1,795.
There are multiple models of the FWD Pacifica with the base L model starting at $26,985. Our Hybrid Limited (with a 6.6 kW onboard battery charger and 110-volt charging cord) ranked at the top of the price range with a MSRP of $45,395 plus the options.
It’s gas driven, but rates at 33 MPG for highway driving
The 2019 Subaru Forester Sport we tested is an all-new model built on the Subaru Global Platform and features what a Subie is all about from its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive to Eye-Sight Driver Assist Technology to comfortable class-leading passenger space.
Our tester had an updated 2.5-L DOHC four-cylinder Boxer engine with a Lineartronic CVT, featuring a seven-speed manual shift mode and paddle shifters. EPA/DOT fuel ratings are 29 MPG combined.
With 8.7-inch ground clearance and high-strength steel body, the Forester is poised for off-roading, and the active torque vectoring, X-MODE with Hill Decent Control, and Vehicle Dynamics Control system assists in that adventure driving.
From the Subaru STARLINK Safety & Security system to its extensive connectivity, the Forester provided us with everything we expect in a Subaru. Our Forester Sport was priced at $28,795 and had $2,045 in options (including the Subaru STARLINK Multimedia Plus system and a delightful Harman Kardon nine-speaker audio system).