Full 2013 Nissan Quest Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Nissan Quest receives a few minor equipment changes. The top trim LE model gains an Around View monitor that provides a complete above-the-vehicle view (easing parking in close quarters) while the DVD Entertainment option now can be selected even in the lowest SV trim level.
The 2013 Nissan Quest is easily the most distinctive-looking minivan on the market, but most shoppers tend to overlook it. That's a shame, since the Quest offers qualities that most families would appreciate. For starters, the Quest is the most enjoyable minivan to drive, thanks largely to a strong V6 engine and a CVT. Nissan has been refining CVTs for awhile, and the one in the Quest seamlessly pulls the best out of the V6. Meanwhile, a well-tuned suspension also provides comfort on long interstate runs, along with relatively agile handling on backcountry roads.
Inside the cabin, the Quest adopts a different approach than most minivans. It eschews the typical fold-back third-row seat, and instead its third row folds forward and flat. The second-row seats also fold forward (similar to seats in many crossover SUVs), making it easy to convert the Quest from carrying passengers to cargo and back.
Still, some minivan buyers will find a few drawbacks. Most rival vans offer the choice of either a three-passenger split bench seat or a pair of captain's chairs in the second row. The Quest offers only the latter, thus reducing capacity to seven passengers. And because of its flat-folding seats, the Quest's total cargo capacity is actually less than competitors. In other words, the Quest emphasizes all-around versatility rather than specific maximum utility.
But Nissan bets that most buyers prefer flexibility over maximum capacity, and we believe that the question whether the Quest is right for you depends on your priorities. The traditional titans in the minivan segment -- the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna -- both offer eight-passenger seating and larger cargo spaces. The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are also worth considering, especially since their Stow 'n Go seating allows for versatility and maximum utility. But if passenger comfort and overall driving refinement are important to you, the 2013 Nissan Quest is well worth consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan Quest is a seven-passenger minivan offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and LE.
Standard features on the base S model include 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, ambient interior lighting and a four-speaker sound system with six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SV adds alloy wheels, foglights, power-sliding doors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a front-seat center console, a conversation mirror, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a 4-inch color display, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface. The SL further sweetens the deal with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, roof rails, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat and one-touch fold-flat third-row seats.
The range-topping LE tacks on xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, driver memory functions, a four-way power front passenger seat, power-return third-row seats, second- and third-row sunshades, advanced air filtration, an Around View (top down viewpoint) monitor, a navigation system, a rear seat entertainment system and a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with an 8-inch display and satellite radio.
A dual-panel sunroof is also available for SL and LE models.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque powers the Nissan Quest. A CVT sends power to the front wheels. In Edmunds testing, the Quest accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, comparable to the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Fuel economy is also on par, with EPA estimates of 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for all 2013 Nissan Quest models include antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat active head restraints. A rearview camera is standard on all but the base S trim level, while the LE goes one better with the Around View camera system.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Quest earned the agency's top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions, and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" for roof strength.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Quest stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet -- average for a minivan.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Nissan Quest's cabin features an elegantly sweeping dashboard that smoothly blends into the door panels. The center stack's controls are logically grouped within easy reach of the driver. Even on the upper trim levels, the task of operating the various climate, navigation and entertainment systems proves simple and intuitive. Interior materials are above average in the lower trims, while the leather-appointed cabins in the SL and LE create a luxurious and serene environment. Even the CD player/radio features a classy aesthetic, with a simple faceplate and chrome-banded volume and tuning knobs.
Unlike the Odyssey or Sienna, which can accommodate three passengers in the second row, the Quest offers only two captain's chairs, separated by a removable center console. This makes the Quest a seven-seater. The second-row seats slide and recline, however, and are quite comfortable. Like the third row, they also fold forward and flat, making it easier to carry big and bulky items than in a Sienna and Odyssey, which require you to physically remove their second-row seats.
The downside is that the Quest carries less than the Odyssey and Sienna; its 108 cubic feet of cargo capacity is about 40 cubes shy of its rivals due to its taller floor. The Quest's deep storage bin behind the third row also isn't as roomy, though its design doesn't preclude storing items in it when it comes time to lower the rear seats.
Ultimately, shoppers will have to decide whether the Quest's convenience and flexibility is worth the trade-off in cargo space. Chrysler's Stow n' Go system offers a compromise, though. Its second and third rows are more difficult to lower than the Quest's, but they leave more room after disappearing into the floor.
On nearly any road surface, the 2013 Nissan Quest pleasantly silences wind and road noise, with ruts and bumps in the road ably absorbed by the compliant suspension. The steering is precise, but the effort level feels needlessly heavy at slow speeds. Even so, the steering gives the Quest an almost sporting feel around corners.
The V6 delivers capable power and we even prefer the smooth CVT over traditional multi-geared transmissions in this application. Quick reactions from the throttle and transmission make easy work of passing maneuvers and ascending grades, and the latter scenario is really the only time you're aware of the CVT's steady-state rpm drone.