Reduced to generally acceptable dimensions, the 2012 Nissan Quest is no longer the complete winner it was, more of a one- or two-lap pony, when it comes to minivans.
This is not the only one, of course, because no other van other than the Chrysler has the best seat storage system. But the Quest is smaller on the inside and has fixed center seats, something minivans haven’t really seen in over a decade.
It’s not that the Quest is so much smaller than the Chrysler, Honda Odyssey, or Toyota Sienna. It is 200.8 inches long and sits on a 118.1 inch wheelbase. But that’s far in terms of interior volume, in part because its seats can’t be pulled out of the cabin or folded down, out of sight.
In the first row, the Quest’s faults are few. With as much legroom as Chrysler MPVs, it’s comfortable enough even for tall adults, with wide, plush seats that face the dashboard at an angle that strongly reminds us of the first Japanese MPVs to arrive in America. in the mid-1980s. The door openings are also wide enough for easy access.
This is not the case in the second row, where the difficulties start with the Quest’s sliding side doors. They are not very wide and open onto a track that is too short to be as useful as a Large Caravan. The resulting door openings are narrow enough to make car seats a geometric puzzle – not a good endorsement for a family vehicle. There’s no center seat in the second row, making the Quest a seven-seater, and a smaller one at that, while the massive Odyssey can carry eight passengers. The Quest’s third row seat is cramped for adults, acceptable for children.
Whether in the second or third row, the seats themselves are well reclined and provide good support, but they don’t move – the seatbacks simply fold down when more cargo space is needed. That, more than anything, makes the Quest feel as small as it gets inside, that and its relatively high cargo floor. The seats fold up quite easily, thanks to levers and pull straps. However, if you are ordering power assist for the third row seat, be aware that it will stop before you lift the seat fully. Oddly enough, it drops in an upright position, leaving the owners to use a fabric strap to finish the job.
Since the seats no longer tuck into the floor, as they did in the old Quest, the cargo volume is significantly reduced. In all, the Quest has 35 cubic feet behind its third row seats, 64 cubic feet with the third row folded down and 108 cubic feet with the second row folded down. The next Kia Sedona has folding second row seats like the Quest, but still offers up to 32 cubic feet, 80 cubic feet and 142 cubic feet of space. Chryslers have their folding seats in the first-class floor on some models – and with them, they can boast 33 cubic feet, 83 cubic feet, and 144 cubic feet, respectively. The huge Sienna has 39 cubic feet, 87 cubic feet, and up to 150 cubic feet of space with the second row seats folded down and the third row folded down, respectively. The Odyssey has 38 cubic feet, a vast 93 cubic feet and 149 cubic feet of space behind the respective rows.
Other compromises are less noticeable, but they are there. There’s no telescoping steering wheel with the Quest, although the elevated seating position makes the most of the situation. It offers up to 16 cup holders and bottle holders, although the pop-out pair under the radio is only large enough for cans.
The review continues below