What's New for 2009
The Nissan Quest carries over into 2009 relatively unchanged. The only addition is standard speed-sensitive power door locks on all trim levels.
Words like "bold" and "aggressive" rarely come to mind when describing a minivan. Yet when Nissan redesigned the Quest five years ago, that's exactly what critics were calling Nissan's attempt at spicing up an undeniably bland segment. But although the Quest sported unique styling inside and out, as well as a relatively powerful V6 engine and able handling, its polarizing look and lack of functionality compared to its rivals left a bad taste in the mouths of those looking for more out of a family vehicle. Even after a refresh two model years ago, sales of the Nissan Quest have continued to decline. Now the Quest is carrying over yet another year unchanged, which could be an indicator that Nissan doesn't consider the ailing minivan much of a priority. And rumor has it that 2009 could be the Quest's swan song -- the model could be either eliminated or replaced next year.
Strengths of the 2009 Nissan Quest remain the same as in previous years: pleasant driving dynamics and a stylish overall design. But they're not enough. The Quest lacks the versatility and features list that most minivan shoppers are looking for. Competitors like the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna are all better choices.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Nissan Quest minivan is available in four trims: 3.5, 3.5 S, 3.5 SL and 3.5 SE. The base 3.5 model comes with 16-inch steel wheels, single-zone air-conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Upgrading to the 3.5 S trim adds steering-wheel audio controls, a right-side power-sliding door, a power liftgate and power rear vent windows.
Ponying up for the 3.5 SL will get you alloy wheels, power-sliding doors on both sides, heated side mirrors, rear park assist, an LCD monitor with a back-up camera, a six-CD changer with MP3 capability, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and rear audio controls. The top-of-the-line 3.5 SE trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels and adds foglights, a sunroof, the SkyView glass-paneled roof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, driver-seat memory, Bluetooth, a full-length overhead console and an upgraded 265-watt 10-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio. Most of the SE's features can be had on the SL as options.
Strangely, the Nissan Quest comes standard without any rear seats, so in order to take along more than one passenger, you'll need to choose the seat package on all trims, which includes second-row captain's chairs and a flat-folding third-row bench seat. (Presumably, any Quest you find on a dealer lot will have this package.) Other major options, depending on the trim level, include a fixed front-row center console and a navigation system. A rear entertainment system is also available. The base, S and SL Quests have a single LCD screen; the SE comes with separate monitors for the second and third rows.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Quest is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 235 horsepower. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on all trims. For 2009, EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, which is average for the minivan segment.
Full-length side curtain airbags, front-seat side airbags, front-seat active head restraints, traction control and antilock disc brakes with brake assist are all standard on the 2009 Nissan Quest. Stability control comes standard on the SE trim, but it's not available on any other models. In government crash testing, the Nissan Quest earned a perfect five stars across the board. Also, the minivan received a rating of "Good" (the highest) in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Interior Design and Special Features
Most passengers will find the interior of the seven-seat Nissan Quest pleasantly spacious. In addition, the SE model's SkyView windows (roof-mounted glass panels overlooking the second and third rows) lend a light, airy feeling to the rear seats.
Otherwise, the Quest falls short compared to its rivals. Although the third-row seat folds flat into the floor, it lacks the flexible, split-folding design available in competing vehicles. And although total cargo capacity is a competitive 148 cubic feet, luggage space is very limited when the third row is in place.
Because of its able handling and powerful engine, we consider the 2009 Nissan Quest more of an enthusiast-oriented option in the minivan category. The Quest takes corners with ease and boasts a firm and responsive brake pedal. Although nobody would ever mistake the Quest for a sport sedan, its nimble dynamics are a refreshing change from others in this somewhat unexciting segment. However, the Quest's sharp handling comes at the expense of some ride quality, and the overall handling and ride balance is something that the Honda Odyssey achieves more effectively.