2012 Nissan Quest: Low-Roller Weekend
February 27, 2012
High gas prices have been all over the news recently. People tend to drive less and scale back their travel plans at times like this. I had plans to go to Las Vegas this weekend and unlike Vegas high-roller Al Austria, I decided to take the budget-minded, low-roller approach. I got the keys to the long term 2012 Nissan Quest, made reservations for a $40 per night room in downtown Las Vegas, and scoped out the cheap buffets. The only thing missing was a set of low rolling resistance tires to make the theme complete. But the Quest has traditional all-season tires instead.
Although I wasn't paying for the gas, I was mindful of the high prices and drove the Quest efficiently. Plus, it was an opportunity to see if I could set some sort of mpg record.
I brought four friends with me and we packed the cargo area to capacity. Like Brent, I also would have preferred more traditional minivan "trunk well" design, since the flat floor forced us to do a balancing act on our stacked luggage.
The Quest was very quiet, comfortable and easy to drive. It had plenty of power and one of the smoothest continuously variable transmissions I've ever experienced. Many of my passengers fell asleep and had plenty of room to stretch out.
While I was keeping tabs on my gas consumption, I didnt take any extreme measures to maximize my fuel economy. I set the cruise control to about 5 mph faster than the posted speed limit, when possible. When I came across a decline, I turned off the cruise control and let the car's momentum move it forward.
On the way to Las Vegas, I averaged 19.8 mpg. This wasn't a true highway number because I drove around on surface streets for a while before filling up. For reference, the Quest's EPA numbers are 19 mpg city, 24 highway and 21 combined.
My fuel economy greatly improved on the way back. I made fewer stops and I was able to fill up soon after getting off the freeway. My return-trip fuel economy was 24.2 mpg. This is a new record for the Quest. The previous best was 23.6 mpg, set back in December.
I was impressed that the Quest was able to meet its highway fuel economy figure with five passengers and a full load of cargo. In total, I travelled 590 miles and had a total trip average of 21.7 mpg, slightly better than the EPA combined average.
That same day I witnessed just how variable gas prices can be. I filled up the tank at $3.73 per gallon (87 octane) before leaving Las Vegas. When I arrived back in Van Nuys, California and had to refuel, a gallon of gas now cost $4.40 per gallon. It's going to be a rough next few months.
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 6,832 miles