Driving Today

Nissan Quest: Minivan to the Max

We’ve added the all-new Nissan Quest to the short list of really good minivans.

When we evaluate most cars, the driving dynamics come first: Acceleration, handling and comfort are the headline items. But with minivans, things are different. It’s all about how they transport people and stuff -- and the new Nissan Quest is a solid case in point. Instead of concentrating only on improved driving dynamics, Nissan engineers built in a number of useful and innovative features, like the power-sliding side doors that easily unlock and open with a single touch, even when your hands are full. In fact, a lot of effort went into what in many vehicles is an afterthought: the rear passenger space. It offers power-operated windows for second-row passengers and quick-release fold-flat second- and third-row seats that create a long, level-load floor. The area behind the third row features a permanent rear-storage well that provides a large, flexible space for keeping items out of sight.

The twin bucket seats in the second row flank a removable console with cupholders, and the available 11-inch color TV monitor in the rear has an auto-brightness function to contend with varying light levels that you’ll encounter as you motor through the countryside. Oh, yes, and the Quest has an engine too. The 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 260 horsepower, and it is backed by Nissan’s Xtronic CVT Continuously Variable Transmission with adaptive shift control. The engine-transmission combination gives the Quest a fuel economy that is estimated at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

So how does it drive? Well, just fine, thank you. Its handling isn’t quite as involving as the Honda Odyssey, but its four-wheel independent suspension gives it a handling precision you might not expect in a minivan. That impression is aided by the Quest’s vehicle-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering. In total, the Nissan Quest, which has a base price of about $28,000, is worthy of attention in the competitive minivan field.



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