Just a few years ago, we would have called the minivan market near obsolete. Major manufacturers unceremoniously dropped vans from their lineups, replacing them with popular crossovers and SUVs. But the downsizing of the minivan segment has led to heated competition between the remaining participants. And in 2011, five minivans have received major overhauls to entice growing families that, whether they like it or not, need a minivan’s functionality to get them through the day. The 2011 Nissan Quest is the latest van to bring an all-new look to market. It feels more grounded in its drive and boasts a more aggressive exterior – perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch. The blunt, angular look is reminiscent of, well, nothing else in the segment, which is a good thing for some minivan buyers out there, and the interior is flush with high-quality materials. Sure, it’s lacking in cargo space and there’s no hiding the barely adequate gas mileage that minivans continue to deliver, but the Quest is different – and we always like an individual.
What's to Like
The design may not be for everyone, but we think it’s a unique take on minivan styling. Nissan has lowered the step-in height and added grab handles to allow for easier access to rear seats. The DVD screen, should you opt for it, is good quality and large enough to keep the kids happy. Sixteen cup holders hold everything in place.
What's Not to Like
Noise levels when on the freeway are too loud for our liking – not an unusual problem in the segment. The video system won’t play movies through an iPod, only DVD or RCA plug-in, and the folding rear seats tuck away with a pull of a strap – the whole contraption looks a little cheap. Cargo capacity is underwhelming compared to the rest of the segment.
The Drive: Driving Impressions
The Quest doesn’t suffer from the vague drive that many in its segment fail to overcome. It sports decent handling for the class and strong, on-point steering with a good amount of feel through turns. Only one engine choice is available – typical to the segment – and the V-6 provides solid acceleration when needed. The ride is forgiving, with just a tad too much road noise emanating through the wheel arches and into the cabin. All in all, the Quest is a comfortable car to drive or be driven in, the only disappointment is the CVT. This particular transmission sluggishly moves through gear changes and exhibits a low, fairly annoying whine at higher rpm.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Quest uses the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine found in a number of Nissan vehicles, which produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. A CVT (a ...