- Spacious cabin
- Good on-demand V6 power and smooth Continuously Variable Transmission system
- One-touch power sliding doors and lift gate
- Distinct styling sets it apart from the competition
- Distinct styling is not for everyone
- Distance between rear captain’s chairs too wide to attend to baby
- Only one screen for the rear seat passengers
2011 Nissan Quest Minivan Test Drive & Car Review. This video is brought to you by RoadflyTV
Let’s play word association- I say sexy, you say…soccer moms? If that was the first thought that entered your mind, then do I have a vehicle for you. Nissan has introduced the new 2011 Quest with bold styling that sets it apart from the rest of the box-on-wheels crowd. I can’t tell you how many looks I got in the local high school parking lot last weekend. When one speaks of minivans these days, the Honda Odyssey, the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan and the Toyota Sienna come to mind. Rarely does the Nissan Quest enter the fray. That’s probably due to the fact that the previous Quests were less than popular with American buyers.
The first- and second-generation Nissan Quest/Mercury Villager were actually distinctively styled and featured innovative features like sliding rear seats, but they were not in the same league as the competition of the time. The third generation (2004-2009) was actually a big improvement, growing in size and was styled in Nissan’s San Diego-based Nissan Design America (NDA) studio to go after an upscale female audience. That minivan gave the 1996 Ford Taurus a run for its money for having the most oval central stack console ever found in an automobile.
The 2011 Nissan Quest, however, represents a departure from the past. Instead of being designed just for the North American market, this Quest is based on the Japan Domestic Market (JDM) Nissan Elgrand. It’s been Americanized in a few areas, most noticeably in growing in width to suit American tastes. But it retains the tall beltline of JDM minivans.
So, I jumped into the Nissan Quest, well actually, slid into the cushy leather 8-way power driver’s seat. I engaged the Sport mode, and floored the gas pedal. Oh wait, who am I kidding here, there is no Sport mode on the Nissan Quest. It has a CVT for god’s sake.
What it does have going for it, though, is that workhorse 3.5-liter V6 found in many other Nissan and Infiniti models. In the Quest the V6 is tuned to produce 260 HP at 6,000 RPM and 240 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 RPM. So I floored the accelerator and…to my delight, the Quest actually moved! The CVT is actually really smooth and was good at matching engine rpms to the way I stepped on the accelerator. 0 to 60 was…well, let’s just say that there was no problem getting to 60 MPH.
The Quest felt really smooth and solid on the road, with minimal road noise and acceptable wind noise on the freeway. The suspensions is soft, to say the least, and is very capable of glossing over bumps in the road. That being said, I don’t recommend driving the Quest over speed bumps at over 35 MPH. Just trust me on this one. Overall the Quest drove like a…van.
Just like sedans, minivans have grown in size in America. The new Quest drove like the Chevy Astro van that I used to drive for a job in college, and that Astro was no minivan. Parking the Quest was a bit of a challenge in my garage and I had a hard time with tight parking spots at work. The rear view camera is a must (standard on the SV trim and above), since there’s no way you can see behind you in this machine.
If you’ve decided to shop for a minivan, styling is obviously an important factor for you. Therefore read this section very, very carefully. The new Quest will definitely set you apart from the crowd of minivans in the Safeway parking lot. Not in the same way the lightning bolt beltline on the new Honda Odyssey sets you apart, but the Quest sure looks distinctive next to the other minivans on the market.
As previously mentioned, the 2011 Nissan Quest is based on a JDM minivan, which as a genre manages to look narrow, tall and from the third moon of Saturn. While that design philosophy may be perfect for those tight alleyways in Tokyo, in the US it may backfire on you. Although Nissan increased the JDM Elgrand’s width when making the Quest, the beltline on the Quest is still extremely high compared to competition like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. This means the Quest has a shorter greenhouse and a lot of metal real estate underneath the windows, which makes the Quest look tall.
The rear door and glass of the Quest is almost vertical, another departure from the rest of the minivan crowd. The Quest’s front end also manages to look different from all other minivans out there. I’m not sure how I feel about it, actually. I hope lots of moms and dads will love it, for Nissan’s sake.
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