Sales of minivans plummeted from over 1.1 million in 2004 to just over 400,000 in 2009. The number of players in the game also declined, Ford and GM withdrew there. years and Hyundai followed suit for 2010 – yes, we didn’t. Don’t notice, either. But the near-dormant segment is getting a solid reshuffle for 2011, with five of America’s remaining bread boxes being massively improved or completely redesigned. Of them all, none have undergone a more in-depth makeover than the Nissan Quest.
Although Honda and Toyota took chances in the style of the new Odyssey and Sienna, respectively, Quest designers threw in the geomechanical forms of the outgoing model for something totally unexpected. Notable design cues include a plunging trapezoidal grille and headlight treatment, which leads to a steeply angled hood and windshield. Blacked-out B, C, and D-pillars give the van a floating-roof look like that adopted by Range Rover fans, and the arrow-straight waistline, deep slab-shaped skirts and bolt-on liftgate visually enhance this. While the Quest looks nothing like the previous model, it’s just as polarizing. We’ll officially state that most of us love it when cars are controversial with their styling, especially when it comes to minivans.
The Infiniti of minivans
The interior of the 2011 Quest is less controversial. The deep gauge dashboard and nacelle looks a lot more upscale than those on the Odyssey or Sienna and wouldn’t look out of place in an Infiniti. As with the refreshed 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, cheap plastic contact points have been largely banned. The most notable replacements concern the dashboard and door covers, the first rendered in anti-glare matte black and the second in stitched and padded leather.
The first and second row captain’s seats (there is no second row bench option) are superbly comfortable, and even the third row isn’t a penalty bench, thanks to theater-style seats and the absence of a second row central seat back. The Quest’s narrower width makes the third row a tight squeeze for a trio of adults, but the same space in the Sienna or Odyssey doesn’t look like Business Class, either. We’ll also be issuing a demerit for the headliner, which looks and feels pretty low-rent compared to the rest of the interior.
The biggest demerit, however, is the cargo capacity, which is far lower than the cavernous competition. Since none of the Quest’s seats fold into the floor, as it does with its competitors, the Nissan has almost 40 percent less cargo space available as the Odyssey. Although the seats do not hide in the ground, they can be folded flat quickly and easily and it does not require moving any cargo stowed in the deep covered storage compartment behind the back seat.
Unlike its more ambitious competitors, Nissan has chosen not to offer multiple entertainment screens in the rear cabin, instead offering a single 11-inch screen that descends from the ceiling in front of the second row. If one of the kids doesn’t feel like watching what’s on the big screen, he or she can look through the optional dual sunroofs on Quests so equipped, both of which open for a unique treat. of the two-row outdoor ceiling.
Van and driver
On the road, the Quest driver might actually enjoy the ride. Well, at least he or she probably won’t hate it or feel like he’s piloting something as heavy or clunky as a typical minivan. Quest’s new solid structure offers a wonderfully boom-free cabin as well as reasonably orderly handling, and the speed-sensitive electro-hydraulic steering provides a positive sense of centering with a natural build-up of effort when turning the steering wheel. Smooth transitions are easy on the quest, and that’s not something we can say about all family boxes.
Rated at 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, the Quest’s 3.5-liter V6 is widely postponed. While it doesn’t give the over 4400-pound van a cheetah leap, it does have enough grunts to generate a slight steering torque. The biggest disappointment is bolted to the engine, where the only transmission choice is a CVT. We never appreciate the characteristic engine whine that accompanies these transmissions, but we think few Quest buyers will notice.
Features and options
When it arrives early next year, the quest will start at $ 28,550. The base model S will be equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, six-CD stereo, keyless entry, push-button start, removable center console between the seats of the second row and a “wood tone” trim, but few other frills. At $ 31,800, the SV adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, power sliding doors, fog lights, a 4.3-inch color screen in the center of the dashboard, three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity , a USB port and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, among others. At $ 35,150, the SL offers leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a power tailgate, roof racks, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a quick-release feature. for the third row fold-flat seats. Finally, the top-of-the-line LE adds Nissan’s wonderfully intuitive navigation system with an eight-inch screen, 9.3-gigabyte infotainment system, air conditioning, blind spot warning, xenon headlights and more, for $ 42,150.
The only major option that LE buyers can add is the double sunroof. SL buyers can choose sunroofs, DVD system, and the Bose package. Sadly, the second-row captain’s seats on the Quest’s Japanese market twin, the Elgrand, are sadly missing from the option list, which feature hinged seatbacks and chair-style calf rests, so much to tear off the Maybach sales.
As for snatching sales from the equally bright and new leaders of the MPV class, the Quest has never had a better chance. Of all the 2011 minivan offerings, this is arguably the coolest – or at least the boldest – and freshness is a quality not often found in this segment.
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