2014 Nissan Quest 3.5 LEPosted on October 23rd, 2014
Seven-seat minivan hauls soup to nuts
By Nina Russin
It might not be as fast as the GT-R or as sexy as the 370Z, but at times, the Nissan Quest minivan can seem like a gift from God. Our annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year event in mid-October is one of those times, when I find myself doing multiple airport transfers, ferrying bagels and coffee for 130 of my closest friends, schlepping signage, chairs, display stands and PA systems from one spot to the next. Some people call me the program director but I prefer to think of myself as a well-trained Sherpa.
And the Quest is, so to speak, a yak on steroids, with seating for up to seven passengers, a cavernous cargo bay, power liftgate, 260-horsepower V-6 engine, continuously variable automatic transmission and speed-sensitive power steering that makes the 16-1/2 foot-long vehicle capable of U-turns on two-lane roads.
The test car is the upscale LE model priced from $42,870. Standard comfort and convenience features include leather upholstery, second-row captain’s chairs, tri-zone climate control, fold-flat second and third-row seats, DVD rear entertainment system, navigation, rearview monitor, around-view monitor, blind spot monitoring, Bluetooth interface, 13-speaker Bose audio system, conversation mirror and six-way power driver’s seat with memory. Adding the optional dual-pane sunroof and destination charges, final MSRP is $45,315.
Formula for success
Automakers periodically play around with the minivan formula in an attempt to make it sexier. But after three and a half decades on American highways, the best minivans tend to be those that stick to the tried-and-true formulas. The exterior should be clean and aerodynamic, with a generous greenhouse to fill the interior with ambient light.
Inside, versatility and economy of space separate the wheat from the chaff. The gearshift lever should be on the instrument panel, not the floor because it opens up more storage space. The more storage cubbies, cup and bottle holders throughout the passenger cabin, the happier those passengers will be. A power liftgate makes it easier to load up the back with large cargo, and a properly designed cargo area should be capable of hauling multiple bicycles, kayaks, camping equipment, skis and snowboards. Campers might even spend the night inside.
The Nissan Quest isn’t the edgiest looking minivan on the road but it’s a purposeful, well-executed design. Form follows function: exactly as a minivan should be.
Minivans live in cities as often as they do out in the woods, so maneuverability is crucial as is adequate engine power. The Quest delivers both and meets our minimum towing standard so it can haul a boat or small trailer.
Realizing that seven-passenger vans have generous blind spots, engineers wisely added the around-view monitor that displays the car’s entire perimeter as seen from above when the driver shifts into reverse. The rearview monitor image is on the other side of the split center stack screen. I found the blind spot monitoring especially helpful on airport runs where vehicles frequently change lanes.
At 77.6 inches, the Quest is quite wide. That’s great for interior space but it does make the van a bit of a challenge to park. It fits into a standard parking spot, but barely.
Its low step-in height makes it easy for passengers of all sizes to enter and exit the car. The car’s low lift-over height made it easier to load in all of those bagels and boxes of coffee. Our juror, Jill Ciminillo found it difficult to reach the liftgate controls in the raised position. A height adjustment, at least for the power liftgate, would come in handy.
The Quest handles like a much smaller vehicle than it actually is: something I found handy weaving through rush-hour traffic on several of my airport runs. Unlike most high-profile vehicles, minivans tend to have good forward visibility.
The large greenhouse makes visibility to the sides of the car pretty good as well. At night xenon headlamps project long light beams that are close to daylight for enhanced visibility.
Fuel economy for the V-6 engine isn’t great, about 21 miles-per-gallon on average according to the EPA, but I appreciated the power merging into dense highway traffic, or trying to push the envelope a bit in order to keep on top of the tight event schedule. I’m generally not a fan of continuously variable automatic transmissions, but Nissan’s are some of the best in the industry, lacking the annoying rubber band feel of some competitive units.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of independent struts with coil springs up front and a multi-link setup in the back. Eighteen-inch rims standard on the LE test car give it a generous footprint. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the car in firm, linear fashion.
Interior quiet is good on surface streets, but I did notice some significant tire noise at higher speeds. It wouldn’t stop me from buying the car, but the noise made it more difficult to hear passengers in the second and third rows.
The Nissan Quest comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, knee bolsters, and tire pressure monitoring with easy fill alert.
The seven-passenger Quest is on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Like: A well-designed minivan with a strong powertrain, good visibility, versatile interior and a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Liftgate is difficult for smaller women to reach in the raised position.
Model: Quest LE
Base price: $42,870
As tested: $45,315
Horsepower: 260 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 240 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 19/25 mpg city/highway2014, Minivan 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Nissan, performance, pricing, standard safety
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