2012 Nissan Quest LE: Oregon Day 1 -- Mt. Shasta
December 23, 2011
Day one of our Oregon holiday trip saw the 2012 Nissan Quest make it 650 miles up the road to Mt. Shasta, California. The night chill certainly makes it feel like December up here, but the weak coating of snow on this southernmost member of the Cascade range looks more like late spring.
Nearly all of the trip took place on the I-5 freeway, save for a self-imposed 100-mile detour we took onto the northern stretch of highway 99 to avoid construction delays on the interstate. Strong head- and crosswinds belted us wherever we went all day, but the Nissan Quest didn't seem to notice and tracked straight and true.
In fact the Quest's steering is emerging as a strong suit. It's nicely weighted, precise (but not to a nervous and over-sensitive degree) and the on-center position is well-defined. And the steering wheel rim has a nice heft to it. All day I was reminded of the Infiniti QX-56, a big SUV I enjoyed far more than I expected on the way to Mammoth a couple summers ago.
The Quest's CVT transmission was impressive, too, despite two large grades to climb and numerous semis to pass. More than any other company, Nissan has CVT software figured out. There's just enough rev change in normal driving to make it seem like a regular transmission; it never ever gives off that drony rubber band feeling common to many other CVTs.
Yet there's no busy shifting when climbing slopes, no harsh double downshifts when pulling out to pass. On downgrades there's an "O/D off" button that changes the ratio operating range to provide extra engine braking.
This CVT is remarkable in that it doesn't seem like a CVT unitl it needs to behave like one, at which point it goes ahead and does what it needs to do in such a seamless way that you don't realize it's doing it.
This day was never going to generate stellar fuel economy numbers, what with a persistent 25 mph headwind all day, a full load of people and stuff, and a green engine that started the trip with barely over 1,000 miles on the clock. Not surprisingly, our two tank average of 18.6 mpg barely touches the Quest's EPA city rating of 19 mpg, I expect better as the trip progresses and the winds die off.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,700 miles