A family looking for a minivan that is set apart from the rest
Comparable models in this class:
Chevrolet Venture, Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV, Mercury Monterey, Pontiac Montana, Toyota Sienna
Anything but typical
Minivans dont have it easy. Theyre the Rodney Dangerfield of the auto world. They just dont get much respect at least, that is, from onlookers who have never experienced a minivan.
We believe these naysayers would be singing a different tune, if they ever pushed back those big, sliding rear doors, climbed in and discover the secret that has yet to make it to the mass market: minivans are awesome. Yes, you read correctly. And during the next few months were going to show you why, as we review our top three favorites: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and this weeks vehicle: Nissan Quest.
Now, were not going to try and convince you that a minivan is something else. It hasnt the sportiness of the Mazda RX8 or the ruggedness of the FordF150, nor is it as hip as the Cadillac Escalade. But, what it does, it does better than any other vehicle: toting families and their stuff in and out of town. Its functional, practical and highly efficient. Its the Swiss Army knife of the auto world. And, if youre stuck in traffic on the interstate with three kids, its the vehicle you want to have.
Driving impressions Most minivan reviews would probably jump right into listing all of the kid friendly gizmos, and sure, well cover those, but what first caught our attention during our time behind the wheel of the Nissan Quest was how it handled.
Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Quest produced 240 of some of the smoothest horses in the minivan world. On the highway, it had a kick to it that allowed us to pass and merge with ease. The steering was responsive and stiff. The body didnt feel top-heavy or wobbly. In fact, it felt solid, which made us confident taking tight corners (not that youre likely to whip around s-curves with three little ones in the backseat, but nevertheless).
The Quest is available in three trims: S, SL and SE. Both the S and SL come standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission and 16-inch wheels; the SE has a five-speed automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels. If you were looking for optimal driving performance we would recommend the SE. Its five-speed changes the way in which power is delivered (versus the four-speed) and enhances the Quests responsiveness.
Beam me up Scotty We knew there was something vaguely familiar about the Quests instrument panel when first saw it. With its center-mounted radio and climate control cluster and 6.3-inch information display screen, this circular dash, which juts out at a 45-degree angle, looks like it was taken from the set of Star Trek.Whether or not this space age design is appealing depends upon your personal preference, but what we think everyone would agree upon is the simplicity with which all of its systems can be operated. The knobs are big and easily matched to their function. Theres no second-guessing or referencing the owners manual. The dash may look like the Star Ship Enterprise, but it doesnt take a rocket scientist to operate it.
Our only quip with the Quests futuristic interior would be the location of the speedometer. Instead of having it mounted in front of the driver, it has been moved to the right and sits above the instrument panel. Several manufacturers have done this (such as, the Saturn Ion and Mini Cooper). However, in our opinion, some things are best left unmoved. First, it was not intuitive. We kept glancing up and then over. Second, the steering wheel is harder to see at night. Its amazing how much the gauge illumination lights the steering wheel.
Kid gizmos, gadgets & features When it comes to minivans, kid-friendliness matters. You need wide, retractable doors (preferably powered); more cupholders than passengers; lots of 12-volt outlets for Game Boys; and equal window, sunroof and seat room for everyone. The Nissan Quest delivers all of this and more.
Theres seating for seven, with captain chairs in the front and second row and a three-person bench in the third; eight cupholders are interspersed throughout the cabin with a couple of bottle holders in the rear doors for really thirsty kids; numerous cubby holes can be found behind, beside and in-between seats; theres a purse hook, grocery bag hooks and dry cleaning hooks; and youll find four 12-volt power outlets for cell phones, laptops and anything else.
Optional goodies include a rear DVD entertainment system with 10-speaker Bose audio system and two flip-down monitors; an Igloo cooler that keeps 24 12-ounce cans cold (without ice); and dual media playback, which allows front and rear passengers to listen to two separate CDs at the same time via wireless headphones.
The list gets even better if you opt for the top-of-the-line SE model where theres a skyview glass paneled roof, powered rear sliding doors and liftgate, rear sonar system (so you dont run over any bikes when backing out of the driveway) and second and third row reading lights.
Of course, the kids cant have all of the fun. For the driver, adjustable pedals, 8-way power seat with lumbar, heated seats, leather upholstery and satellite radio are available.
The Nissan Quest is a strong contender in the minivan market. With its avant-garde interior, responsive handling and plethora of kid gadgets, we would recommend adding it to your list of test drives.
Copyright 2013, Michele Brooke
Standard Equipment (partial list)
4-speed automatic transmission
Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
Emergency braking assist
Front, rear and third row head airbags
Tire pressure monitoring
Power windows, mirrors & door locks
Tilt-adjustable steering wheel
Front and rear air conditioning
AM/FM in-dash single CD player stereo with 8 speakers
SL models also include: (partial list)
Power sliding side door
Rear power liftgate door
8-way power driver seat
Height adjustable pedals
Overhead console with storage
Universal remote transmitter for garage door
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Rear volume controls for audio system
SE models also include: (partial list)
5-speed automatic transmission
Dual power sliding side doors
Power glass sunroof
Fixed glass rear sunroof
Power opening rear quarter windows
Dual front side-mounted airbags
Rear parking sensors
Driver seat memory
4-way power passenger seat
Heated driver and front passenger seats
Dual zone front climate control with rear air
Bose premium brand in-dash 6 CD stereo system with 10 speakers