2011 Nissan Quest LE Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on July 06, 2011

Tall rear end design is ideal for hauling cargo. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

The all-new 2011 Quest is once again brimming with individual character. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

The new Quest, especially in top-line LE trim, moves the van segment up a notch in luxury car detailing. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Push-button start is a nice, convenient touch. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Switchgear delivers premium-level refinement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Seats are extremely comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Second row seating is good with easy access to the third row. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

All the seats fold flat, which is great, but the load floor is significantly higher than the minivan average which takes a big chunk out of cargo space. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

Published on July 06, 2011

What would you do if you had a minivan for a week? Take off on an impromptu vacation? Go furniture shopping? Spend Saturday morning garage sale hopping and snag some great deals? Hit the hardware store for building supplies? Take a pile of refuse to the dump? The list is endless!

There was no time for vacation, but I did have to pick up some furniture that I bought off of a friend. I've done complete moves in minivans before so I wasn't concerned about not getting it done the week prior when I had a Mercedes Sprinter cargo van in my driveway, and that mule would've been impossible to get into Tim's underground parking area anyway.

Running late, as is often the case, I pressed foot to floor and must admit to enjoying the extra 25 horsepower Nissan added to its 3.5-litre V6. The 260-horsepower mill now combines with an ultra-efficient CVT gearbox that helps to reduce fuel consumption considerably, from the previous model's estimated 12.9 L/100km city and 8.4 highway rating to a respectable 11.1 and 8.1 respectively.

I was charging down Kingsway, probably not the most efficient way to get from my home in South Burnaby to False Creek, next to the old Olympic Village in downtown Vancouver. Lots of lights, traffic, and roadwork to mess up my commute, but the Quest's front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup didn't complain. It's biased for comfort, which is expected in this class, but despite some body lean when really pushing the corners, something I did later on in the week, it manages curves, and in this case side-to-side transitions, quite well. The electrically-assisted power steering is nicely weighted yet rotates easily, although when maneuvering into Tim's underground parking it was the much tighter 11-metre turning circle that I appreciated more.

After dropping the seats in the van, an ultra-easy task that requires a mere tug on each rear seatback leash and flick of a lever at the side of each middle-row bucket, resulting in an absolutely flat loading floor, and then a quick survey of my newly bought furniture in Tim's apartment, I suddenly realized that I might have been a wee bit too optimistic with the Quest serving moving duty. It's not that I'd bought more furniture than remembered. No, it was the Quest was a lot smaller inside than I remembered. Or had it shrunk?

I couldn't tell for sure until I got home to check out the specs, so I loaded up the largest item, an Ikea Pax shelving unit that would soon become my pantry, and headed in the opposite direction. All the way home it irked me that another half-foot of interior height would have swallowed up the other two shelves, and now I was wasting time and fuel on what seemed like an unnecessary quest (sorry about the name drop, but you must have seen it coming). After unloading the cabinet I did a quick search only to have my suspicions confirmed, the Quest is indeed smaller inside than the previous one, by a long shot.

With all the seats lowered the new Quest can only accommodate 3,070 litres (108.4 cubic feet), which is a lot in SUV standards but nothing like the previous generation's commodious 4,126-litre (145.7-cubic-foot) capacity. The same scenario stands true behind the second row, where the new van can just manage 1,801 litres (63.6 cubic feet) compared to the old one that would have you hauling up to 2,483 litres (87.7 cubic feet). And when all seatbacks are upright? A mere 323 litres (11.4 cubic feet) for the 2011 Quest and 915 litres (32.3 cubic feet) for the 2009 (the Quest skipped a year due to moving production from Mississippi to Kyushu, Japan). The new seating system is a lot more convenient, mind you, so I suppose that's the price paid for the flattest loading floor amongst vans with full-size second row seats. You'll have to consider how you use your van in order to decide what you need more, space or grace.

After my second trip downtown the Quest transformed into a luxurious cruiser for a dinner and movie date with one of my best friends. OK, to be truthful she wasn't all that thrilled with having to unload it before we could get going (thanks Mia), but once the seats were back in place and we were on our way to our favourite sushi hangout she couldn't help but comment on how nice it is inside. Really, the Quest isn't your average minivan. If its unorthodox exterior didn't give that away already, its interior certainly will have you thinking it could be rebadged an Infiniti if that brand would ever include a minivan in its lineup. My tester was dolled up in top-line LE trim, which meant a new advanced climate control system with a Plasmacluster air purifier, side mirrors that tilt down when reversing, third row power-return seatbacks, an upgraded Bose CD/DVD/flash memory audio system with XM satellite radio and an 8-inch colour display, a navigation system, and a rear DVD entertainment system with an 11-inch monitor. Additionally the Quest LE gets xenon (HID) headlamps and a blind spot warning system, all for $48,498 plus $1,600 destination.

And that's on top of the base Quest S model's standard power windows, mirrors and locks, proximity sensing remote keyless access and pushbutton ignition, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 6-CD/MP3 audio system with auxiliary input, rear roof spoiler, satin chrome roof rails, and much more. All Quests also get four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and brake assist (BA), electronic traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, and tire pressure monitoring system, the latter that includes a new warning feature dubbed Easy Fill Alert. Six standard airbags are included too. The base Quest S starts at $29,998.

A number of items from the Quests SV and SL trim levels come as part of the SE, including an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, and a USB port for the stereo from the SV, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a rearview camera, automatic headlamps, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather upholstery, an 8-way powered driver's seat with driver's side memory, a 4-way powered passenger seat, third-row one-touch release seats, powered sliding side doors, a powered liftgate, side sill extensions, and 18-inch alloy rims on P235/55R18 all-season rubber, from the SL.

I've got more furniture to buy for my new place and fortunately more minivans booked for testing, so while I'm driving by with a new love seat and chaise in back go ahead and smirk all you want. And while you're gloating as you look up from your sports coupe or across from your stylish crossover SUV, that's hardly larger than yesteryear's station wagon, just remember minivan owners can do a lot more.

On that note the 2011 Nissan Quest can haul a lot more than most midsize crossovers, but can't load as much volume as the majority of its minivan peers. Then again the Quest makes up for it with fabulously user-friendly rear seating flexibility and a beautifully detailed interior, not to mention good performance and fuel economy.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Minivan, Nissan, 2011, Quest, $30,000 - $39,999,

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