Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Nissan Quest 3.5 SLNissan's new Quest minivan excels as a car.
Minivan driver is a label few of us aspire to, but Nissan has combined real styling with car-like comfort to at least make you suffer the indignity smugly. Let's drive the 2011 Nissan Quest SL in Check the Tech. The last Quest looked like it was on a quest for some kind of identity, and the Quest before that were twinned with the Mercury Villager. Well, Nissan killed the entire product line after the 2009 and just took a breather. Now, the Quest is back with this 2011, a completely new look you're not likely to mistake for anything in a hunger to no longer play second fiddle to Sienna and Odyssey. Now, look around. The Quest has a reputation of having the best quality materials of any of its competitors. It's the newest model on the market, and I have to say it does do a very good job of getting nice materials, but even though we're near the top of the line on this guy, you can't get navigation. I didn't say we don't have navigation. I said you can even get it in this car, which is kind of strange for a vehicle this high in the lineup of the Quest mini van. By the way, the screen is decent size, nice and generous, and it's quite reachable, but it's not a touchscreen. You got to use this Nissan controller, kind of a simplified version of which you'll find in an Infiniti, for example. We've got 6 speakers around the cabin; just kind of a bass audio system is what you get on one of these SLs. Sources are AM, FM, optical drive, yes, but it's been sent to Siberia, a.k.a. the bottom of the console down here. I do have a very handy, look right here, household outlet, 115-volt deal right there. There's an inverter build from the vehicle. Right next to that is my USB jack, which of course can be USB thumb drives where in my case, I've got my iPod Touch hooked up. One of the key things on iPod connectivity is how quickly can it load and scroll things. This one does pretty good. I've seen faster, but this is fast enough to be okay. One thing I don't like, look at the resolution I've got on a 200-dollar phone compared to the crap on a 35,000-dollar car, and it's 2011. I'll own this car for 7.6 years if on average. What do you think that display is gonna look like compared to everything else I own in that time? Now, notice I glossed over satellite radio when I was listing all of our audio sources because the only way to get that is in kind of a chunky package. You've got to get the Bose audio system, which rolls in the Bose Amplification, 13 speakers, and then you get XM radio. I don't think it's available ala carte. Now, back here in the second row, it's good times with the Juice Box set. Here's my dropdown 11-inch wide screen LCD. It's one of the better-looking ones I've seen in a vehicle of this type. And while it does drop there from the ceiling, it doesn't block the driver's visibility from the rearview mirror, just slide them out. They do a good job at the altitudes here. Notice, it can echo the same content on the front screen, the 7-inch, or these two can split off. You can watch the DVD in the front, for example, and watch something on the AUX jacks. They're right down there, audio and video on the rear. So, good flexibility to keep everybody happy. Here's our second row. Let me show you how much I can fold these nice comfy captain seats down. By the way, here's your standard in the second row. That's it. They don't come out unless you're handy with tools. Third row is right there. As you can see, it's better suited for kids. I wouldn't put adults in there unless you hate them. Now, our vehicle is optioned up with not just one but two panoramic glass moon roofs. They're pretty good size. They're not gutter to gutter like you'll see on some vehicles today, but you do have one that kind of services both second and third row here, and of course this one covers the front row. Now, back here, these little switches on the side panels, these are little power assists to lower the third row. That's kind of nice. That will save your back. There's my flat load floor I'm talking about. It's not real low, but then again, either is the back of the vehicle, so that kind of makes sense. Under here though is interesting, I'd call this a smuggler's box except you could put the smuggler in there, not just the whisky he's carrying. Now, Nissan is known for their V6s. We've got one in here, real familiar stuff, 3.5 liter sitting side-saddle drive in the front wheels only, 260 horsepower, 240 foot-pounds of torque, gets this 4500-pound box up to 60 in a respectable 9 seconds while delivering 1924 mpg. One transmission choice only, it's gonna be a CVT. And as we're seeing on the road, Nissan does those really well. Now underway, the Quest has a very car-like feel. It's very comfortable ride, nicely tuned. In a lot of vehicle's life, they tend to be harsh when they're unladen, and then they kind of settle out when they're loaded. The designers had to pick a certain load level. This one at least unladen rides very nicely. Nissan does CVTs continuously variable transmissions exceptionally well especially when made into relatively big motors like in this one. You get what feels like real shift points, not lots of loopy, spooly, slipperiness, I hate that in some CVTs. Easy handling here on a tight turn in the city, and now we're off the freeway on some choppy city streets as they always seem to be in San Francisco, and again, the ride is isolating out all the crap pretty nicely. So all in all, it's a nice minivan with a real car-like nature to it. Okay, let's price this big boy. This 2012 Quest SL, again one notch from the top, is about 35 delivered, feeling nicely equipped, but there are some tech choices you gotta consider. First is that rear-seat DVD system, which is pretty good. That's $2100, but here's what's interesting about it, you better start with that for the following reason, because the panoramic roof option requires DVD. It's $1350 more, and the Bose option, which gives you XM and better sound requires both the DVD system and the panoramic roof. I've never quite seen a stacking of packages like that.