Car review: Nissan Quest 2011

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The Nissan Quest is back after a short one-year hiatus. Originally launched in 1993, the all-new, fourth-generation Quest minivan will soon arrive at Nissan dealerships.

According to Nissan, the new Quest is about to take on the toughest job on the planet – parenting. That’s because it includes a long list of family-friendly innovations and amenities that a family on the go can enjoy together.

These smart new features include one-touch power sliding doors, quick-release folding-flat seats, an advanced climate system and a rear storage trunk that you can use even when all the rear seats are in the folded position and flat floor.

The last generation Quest was an exercise in unique hybrid styling with a car-like front end that didn’t really look like its minivan body. This time around, it’s a more seamless styling exercise, but the new design has a lot of interesting and pleasing aspects to look at.

Overall, it has a wide, low stance and a muscular front end that sports a much higher hood height than its predecessor. Striking new features include its full privacy glass, matching blackout roof support pillars and the generous use of chrome accents. It’s also a surprisingly efficient form against the wind, with an aero rating of 0.32 Cd, which is very good for a van-style body.

Quest competes in the high end of the van market, with brands like Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Chrysler Town & Country.

Nissan has admitted to participating in an internal debate over the rationale for staying even in the van segment, a segment that big companies Ford and GM have already abandoned. This created a less competitive and more stable minivan market, and prompted Nissan to try its luck again.

In addition to its innovative design, what also sets the new Quest apart from the Odyssey or Sienna is the layout and functionality of its interior. Quick-release fold-flat second and third row seats quickly transform the Quest into a flat-floor cargo transporter. To make this transformation even more convenient, the LE trim comes with third-row power retractable seatbacks.

The second row seats slide forward and backward and pull apart to allow access to the third row. However, they are not removable, as they are in the competition. Nissan is convinced that most owners rarely remove these seats because they are heavy, bulky, and difficult to reinstall, and I’m sure many potential buyers agree.

Quest’s new ‘Innovation for the Family’ design features include keyless push-button ignition, power second windows, and one-touch power sliding side doors that easily unlock and open with one touch ( ideal when you have an armful of groceries). You can also add things like double-opening glass sunroofs, blind spot warning system and rear view monitor.

Power comes from Nissan’s award-winning 3.5-liter V6 engine, which can produce 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a smooth and smooth Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) transmission with Adaptive Shift Control. The console-mounted shifter has an overdrive lockout switch that provides engine braking when going downhill, often a problem with other CVTs.

As was the case with the previous Quest, the overall driving experience is top notch for the MPV class. Even on the icy, pothole-strewn roads of La Belle Province, the Quest offered a stable ride and impressive comfort.

The drive goes to the front wheels (there is no all-wheel-drive version). Quest S and SV models feature 16-inch wheels (aluminum alloy on the SV) with all-season tires, while Quest SL and LE models feature 18-inch aluminum alloy rims on the mechanical finish and all-season tires.

A standard tire pressure monitoring system includes a very handy and innovative new app that Nissan calls Easy Fill Tire Alert. The hazard warning lights flash to let you know that the system is operating while you are pumping air into a tire and – with a beep from the horn, when the correct pressure is reached.

Bob McHugh is a freelance automotive journalist who writes on behalf of BCAA.


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