With so few minivans left on the market, I was very happy when Nissan brought back the Quest in 2011 after a brief hiatus. Aaron Gold reviewed the 2011 Nissan Quest for us, and he noted that "the Quest's unusual looks, zooty interior, and luxurious demeanor make it something special." After driving the latest Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, I was primed to see how Nissan chose to skin the minivan cat, so I borrowed a 2012 Nissan Quest 3.5 LE from the press fleet to put it through its paces during a week when I knew I'd have a discerning group of passengers. The 2012 Nissan Quest 3.5 LE carried a base price of $41,350 ($43,715 as tested), with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway. Let's drive.
I hate to start off a review right from the top with a complaint, but I have a major one with the Quest, and it's probably a deal-breaker. Quest's rocker panels are integrated into the side doors, which makes for a very clean look. However, that means that when the door opens, the rocker panel comes with it. Where I live, curbs can range from about 4" to about 8" tall, but most tend to be 7". The Quest's front passenger door will just clear a 7" curb -- until an adult passenger steps in. Then, the vehicle sinks a bit on its suspension, as it should -- and the door becomes wedged on the curb and sidewalk beyond. And when I parallel parked less than 6" from the curb, the side door hit the curb and would not open far enough to be able to slide. With a full load of passengers, I was forced to find curb cuts or driveways to let my passengers exit safely, then park at the next curb. This issue would not crop up in a driveway or parking lot in general, but in the urban environment, it is annoying and potentially unsafe, as passengers may be forced to exit the vehicle on the left side in the path of traffic. Long and low looks cool, but doesn't quite work.
Inside, I have no complaints about Quest. The sleek dash and well-appointed interior on my top-of-the-line LE model was beautifully designed and functioned elegantly. My passengers all praised the comfort in the second and third rows. Access to the third row is easy, though no one found the operation of the second row intuitive. The LE model's "power everything" approach is much appreciated, as I was able to open and close sliding side doors and the rear tailgate with the key fob or with dash-mounted controls, a convenience that feels like a necessity once you have it.
The Quest's 3.5-liter V6 has plenty of power, though I was not enchanted with the way that the continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivered the power to the front wheels. Peak torque arrives relatively late to the party with the V6, at 4,400 rpm, which means that in high demand situations, the engine is revving pretty hard. The Quest has a weird feeling under heavy acceleration. As the steering mechanism counteracts the natural torque steer of the front-wheel drive propulsion system, it feels like the front end gets light -- which is the exact opposite of what is really happening. The disconnect between the steering feel and the vehicle's actions creates a dissonance that is a little disturbing -- to me, anyway.
It's too bad that Quest's flaws are so glaring, because I want to give it points for trying to break out of the traditional minivan box. But, as Toyota learned from its ill-fated Previa minivan, minivan buyers don't necessarily want "different." They are buying a minivan for function, not for style. The Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey just plain do minivan better than Quest. So do the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan and Volkswagen Routan. The Mazda5 is the minivan that succeeds by being different, and its big difference is that it is much smaller and lighter than the rest of the crowd. The 2012 Nissan Quest definitely gets style points and points for effort, but does not finish in the money.
- Different than the other minivans.
- Smart interior.
- An engine with oomph.
- Different than the other minivans.
- Low stance doesn't match well with high curbs.
- CVT combined with high rpm for peak torque results in a busy engine.
Details and specs:
- Base prices: $27,750 (S); $31,050 (SV); $34,500 (SL); $41,350 (LE)
- Engine: 3.5-liter V6
- Horsepower: 260 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 240 @ 4,400 rpm
- Transmission: Continuously variable transmission (CVT) with front-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway
- Wheelbase: 118.1" Vehicle Length: 200.8" Width: 77.6" Height: 71.5"
- Curb Weight: 4,371 - 4,568 lbs
- Cargo: 37.1 cubic feet behind third row (including under floor); 63.6 cubic feet behind second row; 108.4 cubic feet behind first row.
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles basic; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain