2013 Nissan Quest

The newest Nissan Quest is the most unapologetic minivan I have seen in over a decade, and for that alone it should be applauded. The last Quest tried really hard to be different and “cool;” sales didn’t back this up. At least Nissan continued trying, when many others (Ford, GM) had given up entirely, instead stuffing families into less usefully designed—but more soccer mom palatable—crossovers. Even Honda and Toyota have tried to make their latest minivans sportier.

But Nissan decided on a different strategy, and the result is a bluff, cubic rendition on the concept of human transport. The Quest is very, very Japanese in its aethetics, and like others that have seemingly arrived Stateside without being changed (Scion xB) this imbues it with an honesty that is very refreshing. About the only annoyance is that the “body kit” of spoilers and side sills on the test vehicle not only makes the standard wheels look even more forelorn, but also mean that it is easy to scrape them on higher curbs when exiting the two front seats.

That cubical design motif pays big dividends inside, and the Quest’s cabin is indeed a great place to spend time. The overall quality of materials shames the Japanese competition, and the layout and thoughtfulness of amenities is excellent. About my only gripe was the placement of the shifter in the center stack, which tended to block the radio and climate controls.

Aside from that, the Quest was a stress-free place to spend time. The step-in height, where you slide right over to the seats, is wonderful, and the chairs themselves are very cosseting. However, car designers need to get the memo that perforated leather seats in a family vehicle are a very bad idea: kids always seem to find a way to grind any available type of food into their tiny little holes, rendering mute the theoretical benefit of leather over cloth in such a vehicle.

But in this regard Nissan is no worse than others, an the Quest is a more pleasing thing to drive than most of its competitors—of either the minivan or crossover variety. That’s because its primary mission seems to be to sooth occupants. It rides exceptionally well, with quiet, well-damped body motions and little of the reverberations that can bother other wagon-shaped cars. And, it suffers none of the pogoing or hobbyhorsing motions of jacked-up faux 4x4s. Does it handle? More than adequately for its intended use. I don’t know anyone (except automotive journalists) who pulls more than 0.6g driving such vehicles, yet many manufacturers seem intent on giving them offroad or racetrack abilities that not only will go unused, but will undermine said vehicle’s primary mission.

The Nissan’s powertrain, comprised of the corporate VQ-series 3.5-liter V6 and CVT-style tranny bolsters the Quests refined demeanor, with nice throttle tip-in, great refinement and acceptable acceleration. Like most all fullsize minivans, its real-world fuel economy seems to range between 16-20mpg, and a loaded model like my LE tester is quite expensive at almost $44,000. But for those who really need big posse family transport, there is nothing better than a minivan, and I would rank the Quest as the most pleasing of the breed.

Fuel economy: 19/25; 21mpg combined
Price as tested: $43,675
Here is what Nissan has to say about the Quest.


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