2012 Nissan Quest

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2011 Nissan Quest — Review

This 2011 review is representative of model years 2011 to 2014.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

More refined but less spacious than its rivals, the 2011 Nissan Quest is a pleasant minivan that faces an uphill battle to compete in a small-but-tough market. The Quest doesn’t use its interior space as well as any of its rivals and lacks some of the entertainment features of the Chrysler minivans. But it’s a solid effort. Unfortunately for Nissan, it probably won’t cut significantly into the sales of its top competitors.
Pros:
  • Premium cabin
  • Lots of space
  • Plenty of family-friendly features
Cons:
  • Big and cumbersome
  • Not as much space as competitors
  • Can get pricey

The last time Nissan overhauled its Quest minivan was 2004. It was designed and built in the United States for the American consumer, which meant that it was large, roomy and shaped like a breadbox on wheels. Plus, the interior featured a strange stumplike center stack that was just awful. While that Quest wasn't pretty, it was your typical minivan at the time.

Today, however, the minivan market is making a comeback. All of the major players have undergone major redesigns over the past few years. And they are all looking pretty good. But none of the transformations have been more drastic than that of the Quest. This time the all-new 2011 Nissan Quest is designed and built in Japan. The looks are better and the interior is much nicer.

Will this total overhaul be enough for the Quest to compete with the new Toyota Sienna and redesigned Honda Odyssey, the minivan segment's two heavy hitters? The jury is still out.

Model Lineup
The 2011 Nissan Quest is offered in four trims: S, SV, SL and LE. Standard equipment on the $27,750 S includes cloth upholstery, 6-way adjustable front seats, keyless access and starting, AM/FM stereo with 6-disc CD changer, auxiliary input jack, manual sliding side doors and P225/65R16 tires on steel wheels. The $30,900 SV adds 3-zone automatic climate control, 4.3-inch color dash display, USB connection, rearview monitor, Bluetooth connectivity, front center console, fog lights and alloy wheels. The $34,350 SL gets leather upholstery, heated outside mirrors, universal garage-door opener, power rear liftgate, roof rails, automatic headlights, quick-release fold-flat third-row seat and P235/55R18 tires. The loaded $41,350 LE has a navigation system with a 9.3-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, a 13-speaker Bose sound system, memory for the driver's seat and outside mirrors, second- and third-row sun shades, power third-row seat, rear DVD entertainment system, Blind Spot Warning System, xenon headlights and a 120-volt outlet.

Safety features include dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags, three-row curtain side airbags with rollover sensor, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, traction control and electronic stability control.

Under the Hood
The 2011 Nissan Quest offers front-wheel drive and only one engine, a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 253 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Quest's EPA fuel-economy ratings are estimated at 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway.

Inner Space
The Quest stands out from the minivan pack when it comes to interior quality. The dashboard is the only one in its class to feature a soft-touch skin, and the look is accented by wood trim, chrome accents and an all-around attractive design.

Adding to the ambiance are its family-friendly features. The Quest offers an 11-inch rear DVD screen that is the biggest on the market. Also available are a hard-drive radio, a 13-speaker Bose audio system and Bluetooth and MP3/iPod connectivity. Those features make the Quest competitive with all but the Chrysler minivans, which also add available Internet connectivity and two types of TV streaming.

Space is important in a minivan, and Nissan focuses on making that space easy to use. The front seat is available with a nice center console, but it's not as deep or versatile as those offered in some other minivans. The side doors are easy to open, thanks to buttons on the handles that you can press to power the doors open. It's a nice touch that will be a godsend for moms and dads with armfuls of kids and packages. The doors open to reveal a pair of comfortable second-row captain's chairs and a deep, removable second-row center console. The captain's chairs fold and slide forward with the pull of a lever, leaving a large entryway that makes access to the third row quite easy.

That third row is fairly roomy. Thanks to decent head- and legroom, a pair of adults can fit back there quite comfortably for a short stint. The seat bottoms are set too low, though, for good long-trip comfort.

The second- and third-row seats fold flat, but not like the seats in other minivans. They simply fold over. The second row doesn't fold into the floor and is not removable, and the third row doesn't fold into the well behind it, which is covered. There is a total of 35.1 cubic feet of storage space behind the third row, and 63.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. That expands to 108.4 cubic feet with all seats folded.

While that's certainly a useful cargo hold, it isn't as useful as the competition. A 4-by-8 sheet of plywood won't fit back there like it will in most competitors. Total storage also suffers. By comparison, the Honda Odyssey has 148.5 cubic feet of space with the second row removed and the third row folded into the rear well. That gives the Honda 37 percent more space.

On the Road
Though unloved, the previous Quest was one of the best-handling, most controlled minivans on the market. While the new Quest is perfectly pleasant, it lacks the sporty character of its predecessor. It has more of a tendency to lean when changing direction, and it plows through turns instead of rotating willingly. The steering has a weighty feel but isn't as quick or direct as that weight would indicate.

There are positives, though. The ride is smooth and forgiving, the turning radius is impressively tight, and the Quest does a good job of shutting out wind and road noise. The engine is also quiet most of the time, but it can get abrasive under full throttle.

The performance of Quest's 3.5-liter V6 engine is right in line with the competition. It provides willing power from a stop, though the throttle is a bit touchy. Zero to 60 mph is in the 8.5- to 9.0-second range, just like other V6-powered minivans. And the continuously variable transmission feels like any other regular automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is in line with the class, but the 18 mpg city/24 highway mpg rating is significantly lower than the 19 mpg/28 mpg rating of the class leader, the Honda Odyssey.

Right for You?
The 2011 Nissan Quest will work great for families 95 percent of the time. It has comfortable and easy-to-access seating for seven, and drivers are surrounded by the nicest cabin on the market. Most families don't use their minivans to haul sheetrock or move the kids to college very often, but when they do need the extra space, the Quest comes up lacking.

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BB02 - 9/2/2014 10:01:12 PM