The 2011 Nissan Quest is the biggest departure from a previous model seen in recent van developments. Styling inside and out is neither controversial nor conventional, it feels more expensive without being more expensive feature-for-feature, and it merges performance and efficiency quite well.
Although many of the component parts have been proven in other Nissan and Infiniti products and Nissan has used the Quest name on vans before, consider the 2011 Quest a new model and not a new-face-and-bumpers update.
Four versions of the Quest are available, the range covering everything from steel wheels and air conditioning to piped leather, a host of electronic conveniences, and a screen as large as some laptops. With options limited, your most difficult decision may well be paint color.
In terms of what you can't see, envision the Quest as a three-row version of the Nissan Murano crossover. A 253-hp V6 has bones shared with everything from a Z-car to an Xterra four-wheel drive. The continuously variable transmission is one of the most efficient automatics around, as Nissan excels in CVT technology. And the suspension, steering and brakes hint at Nissan's more-sporty-than-average philosophy.
Beyond any cosmetic considerations what strikes you most about the Quest is the concession to sizing the arrangement to families with children who aren't ready to drive themselves. The third row is smaller than most but more than adequate for rug rats and yard apes, and the forward four seats are genuinely adult roomy; there is no eight-passenger, middle-row-bench-seat version. And the cargo area has a trunk beneath a floor level with the hatch opening that will be appreciated by anyone who's had to lift an expedition-size suitcase or big-box store case of drinks out of an 18-inch-deep well.
Quest and its competitors (Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Volkswagen Routan) are no longer minivans and have not been for quite some time. Roughly the same outside dimensions as full-size SUVs or crossovers (Chevrolet Tahoe and Traverse, Ford Expedition and Flex, as respective examples) the vans are generally superior people movers and only a moderate-to-heavy trailer or a need for low-gear four-wheel drive tilts the decision toward the others.
We think the Quest is a good choice for those who enjoy driving but have lots of passenger-ferrying requirements or more than two offspring who enjoy road trips.
The 2011 Nissan Quest arrives in four trim levels all with a 3.5-liter V6, continuously variable transmission, front-wheel drive and seven-seat configuration.
Quest S ($27,750) includes air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power windows/locks/mirrors, manual front seats, second-row reclining captain's chairs, 60/40-split third row, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, fold-flat second and third-row seats, wood-grain trim, fixed front and removable second-row consoles, intelligent key/pushbutton start, AM/FM/6CD with Aux port, cruise control, rear privacy glass, 16-inch steel wheels, and rear spoiler. Roof rails ($300) are optional. Towing package ($535) is optional.
Quest SV ($30,900) upgrades with three-zone climate control, power sliding doors, power lumbar adjustment, iPod/USB input, steering wheel controls, 4.3-inch screen (audio and rearview monitor), leather-wrapped wheel, Bluetooth telephony, alloy wheels, fog lights, auto-dimming mirror, and conversation mirror. Roof rails are the sole factory option.
Quest SL ($34,350) features leather upholstery and heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, power liftgate, power driver's seat, HomeLink, heated outside mirrors with signal repeaters, auto on/off headlamps, roof rails and quick-release third-row seat. Options include 11-inch DVD entertainment ($2,100), Bose audio system ($1,300), and dual-opening glass moonroofs ($1,350).
Quest LE ($41,350) adds navigation with 8-inch screen, 9.3GB MusicBox hard drive, 13-speaker Bose audio and DVD entertainment, driver memory system, reverse-tilt mirrors, rear window shades, advanced climate control with air purification, blind-spot warning, HID low-beam headlamps, audio/video inputs and 120-VAC outlet. Only the moonroof pack is optional.
Safety features include dual front, front-side and three-row side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints, three LATCH anchors among 2nd/3rd rows, rear child door locks, electronic stability control incorporating antilock brakes, brake assist, traction control. Rearview camera is standard on all but Quest SE, and a blind-spot warning system comes on the Quest LE.