As such, the LCD in the stack only shows fuel economy and entertainment information, and there is poor integration between the radio controls, down low, and that upper LCD. You can make some selections from either interface, but the upper one is required for iPod music selection. Radio band selection is only possible from the radio controls. Nissan would have done better to integrate all these functions into the LCD, and leave out the lower radio controls.
The LCD also shows the display for a full-featured backup camera, along with Bluetooth phone system functions. Using voice command, you can place calls by name from a paired phone.
Minivans are not known for their driving character, but there are a few things to mention about the Quest. The high point of its drivetrain is the continuously variable transmission (CVT), something Nissan does better than any other car company.
This CVT helps greatly in making the Quest an uncomplicated driver, a car you can just jump in and go with as little fuss as possible. The size of the beast may throw you off somewhat, but the smooth acceleration and easy creeping afforded by the CVT is an asset when negotiating vast mall parking lots beset with hazards.
Likewise, Nissan built in excellent turning radius. With the wheel cranked to lock, the front of the Quest feels like it is going sideways, contributing greatly to its maneuverability. Although well-boosted, the steering offers enough resistance to make it feel like you are putting in a little effort when turning it. But it does not produce much road feel, reasonable for a minivan.
The Quest's ride quality seemed like it could be smoother. The jolts from rough pavement and potholes were felt strongly in the cabin. However, there was not much oscillation on the shocks. And the engine does not make the Quest vibrate much when it's running.
Driving the Quest is Nissan's tried and true 3.5-liter V-6, optimized for minivan duty. In this application, it produces 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Combined with the CVT, it turned in acceleration strong enough not to cause any panic moments when merging onto the freeway. And when passing at speed, the CVT showed its worth by quickly stepping down to a more powerful ratio.
Nissan's V-6 is not the most advanced engine on the market but, combined with the CVT, it turns in 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway in EPA testing. We never quite saw the 20 mpg mark, ultimately turning in 19.5 mpg in our driving. While far from stellar, these are good numbers for a vehicle that can carry seven plus a lot of cargo.
The 2011 Nissan Quest does not stand out as a breakout hit, looking more like an also-ran when compared with the Odyssey and Sienna. Both of those vehicles push their entertainment offerings into the new decade, while the Quest lags with older technology.
We were also baffled by Nissan's choice not to offer navigation in any but the LE trim. The SE starts at almost $35K, a high price for a vehicle with little tech content. Navigation should at least be an option at that level.
The CVT is an excellent piece of technology that serves the Quest well, but other driving components keep up baseline performance without reaching for excellence. That said, its driving character is easy enough, and should be comfortable for a wide range of drivers.
|Model||2011 Nissan Quest|
|Power train||3.5-liter V-6, continuously variable transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||19 mpg city/24 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||19.5 mpg|
|Navigation||Not available on SL trim|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard, with voice command and phone book|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD/DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB drive, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Six-speaker system|
|Driver aids||Backup camera|
|Price as tested||$38,640|