Here at The Garage, we don’t often review minivans, which is sort of ironic considering myself and Founding Editor Gary Grant are both parents. In my case, with only one kid to haul around, a minivan might seem like overkill but when the opportunity arose to review the all-new Nissan Quest, we were eager to see Nissan’s latest entry in the minivan market. The Quest first debuted in 1993, and with the 2011 model, is now in its fourth generation.
First impressions on viewing the Quest was that this is one huge vehicle, but I was stunned to find the car is actually 4″ shorter than the 3rd generation Quest. I typically take time to read other reviews of car I have tested, and was surprised that comments about the exterior styling were generally positive. Yes, any minivan is all about utility, but in looking at the Quest, it looks as if two groups of designers did the front and rear of the car, and never once met until it was time to build the car. While the nose is handsome enough, going back the Quest is a slab-sided bread box. And it isn’t just me. Anyone I came across who saw the Quest remarked how much they disliked the styling, moreso than any vehicle I have ever reviewed.
Thankfully, inside it is a different story entirely. The Quest is tastefully executed. The quality of materials, fit and finish cannot be faulted. Our top=spec LE test car was fully loaded with every creature comfort imaginable. Yet with all the gadgets, all the controls were intuitive and easy to use. One dislike was when the shifter in Drive, my view of some center stack controls were obscured. On a clear November day, we set out to tony Newport, Rhode Island in search of fine food and a tour of the mansions from the Gilded Age. The navigation was a no-brainer, the 13 speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio provided all the tunes we needed and in good quality as well. Our son welcomed the built-in sunshades for privacy.
All Quests share the same drivetrain. Namely, a 3.5L V-6 good for 260hp, paired to a continuously variable transmission. All Quests are front wheel drive only. Despite its size and weight, the Quest has no problem getting around. We cruised at a steady 80mph on our way to Rhode Island and the Quest was as cool as a cucumber. I’m still no convert to the CVT, but I really have no complaints about Nissan’s application here. Steering is feather-light, as I expected, but handling was quite composed, more than I had expected. In sum, the Quest was a pretty competent road tripper that had no problem moving at a good clip.
The Quest does fall short by quite a good margin when it comes to overall cargo capacity to its closest rivals, namely the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country. And it doesn’t help that they all are better looking cars. Our test car was the top-spec LE model, which included nearly every conceivable feature you could want in a minivan. Our son delighted in the 11″ screen to watch ‘Scooby Doo’ on DVD while we enjoyed our own music on XM Radio with the Bose audio. In terms of interior comfort, we could not have asked for more. Optioned with dual moonroofs, floor mats and cargo net, our Quest totaled $43,740USD including delivery.
Boasting a fine driving experience, and comfortable cabin, the Quest is a fine car to drive, but I feel it is let down by its incoherent styling and sub-par cargo capacity.