December 21, 2011
Second place is a tough pill to swallow; it's a superior performance, but it's not superlative. It's the first loser, as some say, and the Nissan Quest knows the feeling all too well.
In our 2011 Minivan Comparison Test, the Nissan Quest tied for 2nd place against such big-name minivan competitors as the Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna SE. The Quest's solid drivetrain, competent ride and plush interior made it a crowd favorite during the testing. Unfortunately, a high (but flat) load floor, smallish cargo space and seating for only seven kicked the Quest off its perch and vaulted the sporty Toyota Sienna into the top spot.
The winner in that test has already spent a year in our long-term test fleet and the other 2nd-place finisher, the Honda Odyssey, is closing in on a year here, too. Now it's the Quest's turn to rack up the miles.
Twelve months and 20,000 miles with a 2012 Nissan Quest 3.5 LE starts today.
What We Got
There are four trim levels for the 2012 Nissan Quest, and one powertrain option: a 3.5-liter V6 cranking out 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The base S model comes with 16-inch steel wheels, cruise, tilt-and-telescoping wheel and even keyless entry. This model starts at $27,750. Jump up from there and you wind up in an SV, which gets alloy wheels, foglights, power-sliding doors, leather steering wheel, rearview camera, front-seat center console, Bluetooth and an audio system with a 4-inch color display and a USB/iPod interface. That one's only $31,050. The SL sweetens the pot with 18s, automatic headlights, leather, heated front seats and one-touch fold-flat third-row seats for $34,500.
The top dog of the Quest crew is the LE and it's the one we got. It takes everything above and adds xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, driver memory, four-way power front passenger seat, power-return third-row seats, navigation, rear entertainment with an 11-inch screen, 13-speaker Bose stereo and an 8-inch display. This one retails for $41,350.
But we didn't stop there. We added a $1,350 dual-opening glass moonroof, $205 carpeted floor mats for all rows and $350 roof rails. If the Quest is ever going to have a chance of outshining its rivals, a loaded LE is its best chance. The sticker price totaled $44,065 but Nissan provided the vehicle so there was no haggling on the price.
Why We Got It
Pretty simple, really: This is a van on the verge of being a segment leader. During the big minivan face-off, the Quest impressed us with its superb ride/handling balance, intuitive cabin, spooky-quiet highway ride and a "sweetheart of a drivetrain."
It looks a little funny and it doesn't haul as many people or as much stuff as the other vans in this segment, though, so we're curious whether such drawbacks amount to much after a year behind the wheel.
Our long-term test of the 2012 Nissan Quest LE overlaps with the end of our 2011 Toyota Sienna and 2011 Honda Odyssey tests so for now, it's a repeat of the last showdown. Can the Quest win us over this time? How about 12 months from now? Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test Blog for updates.
Current Odometer: 835
Best Fuel Economy: 19.7
Worst Fuel Economy: 18.1
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 18.8
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.