2011 Nissan Quest

DEL MAR, Calif. — Historically, Quest has almost been like the industry’s minivan after-thought. But after driving the all-new 2011 product there’s no doubt it came to play. Considering the renewed interest and products in the import minivan segment catering to the active family has been the battle cry. 

Nissan’s take is to say good-bye to the “Soccer Mom” and hello to the “Parent’s Vehicle.” Minivans have always offered the versatility a family needs and adding technology as they matured has made them even more germane to everyday needs.

The 2011 Quest is built on Nissan’s unibody D-platform shared with Maxima, Altima and Murano – front engine and front-wheel drive. Driving Quest is proof that much work has been put into the vastly-improved suspension. It has great road manners and a solid feel. Its 3.5L 24-valve DOHC V6 develops 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Adaptive Shift control.

The new Quest’s exterior although boxy is fairly aero. At highway speeds and even driving through city traffic, outside noise is kept at a minimum. The redesigned rear is squared-off and formal. Available features include dual-opening glass moonroofs, rear spoiler, roof rack, and power-heated outside mirrors.

Quest’s interior is somewhat deceiving. Ingress and egress is easily performed in the first and second row; the step in for the third row is somewhat more problematic. Quick release fold-flat second and third row seats provide for a flat-floor; however, since the seats don’t fold into the floor the space to the headliner is more limited and a challenge to loading larger containers. Also the front passenger seat does not fold flat adding to the difficulty of carrying long items.

 On the up side there is a lot of floor room between the driver and passenger seats. The second row removable console adds more space and provides for an easier access to the third row. Extra storage is found beneath the floor behind the third row. If you have a proclivity for drinking there are 16 cup and bottle holders available.

A couple of other points: the tilt steering wheel needs a few extra degrees of elevation that would provide some needed comfort for those who are “expecting” and for those with “fuller figures”; the lack of a hill holding system is a missed opportunity, something that would provide comfort and security in a family vehicle.

The 2011 Quest comes in four trim levels – S, SV, SL and the top-of-the-line LE. The incremental price jump is relatively high…but so is the increased content. The Quest S begins at $27,750 – nicely equipped. However, the Quest LE starts at $41,350 – substantially equipped. (Destination and handling charges of $800 are additional.)

—- Al Vinikour