2012 Nissan Quest LE: Beats Its Rivals on Road Trips
May 07, 2012
I took a mini vacation to La Quinta (the desert city in California, not the mid-range motel chain) with three friends over the weekend. Why such a big vehicle? Well, originally, there were going to be six of us, but at the last minute, the group shrunk to four but I already had our long-term 2012 Nissan Quest, so off we went.
We haven't even had the Quest six months, but it has already seen a lot of road trip duty -- it went to Oregon with Dan's family and more recently took six adults to Vegas for Caroline's family reunion.
After this short trip, all I can do is agree with pretty much everything that has been said about the Quest: it's a fine road trip vehicle. Actually, I'll go farther. I don't think I've ever driven a minivan that was more suited to road trips (provided you don't need 8 seats). Here's why:
The ride quality is superb over most types of pavement (even in L.A.), and the cabin is exceptionally quiet. It was easy to participate in conversation with the passengers in the second row. The Odyssey and Sienna aren't this quiet.
I also was reminded that I think this is the best application to date of any continuously variable transmission (CVT). The ease with which you can put the pedal down to access a lower gear ratio range and get a few more revs from the 3.5-liter V6 for passing is just so nice. There's no waiting, no gearchange drama, the torque is just there when you want it. The six-speed automatic in the Sienna is good, but even it can't match the smooth transitions you get with the Nissan's CVT.
I can't say I'm a fan of the Quest's Toyo all-season tires, which howl through assertive left turns and detract from its braking ability -- although our long-term van stopped better than an earlier Quest we tested with these tires. I know these tires may contribute to the van's ride quality, but if I owned it, I'd be looking for a grippier alternative when it was time to replace them.
Life was great inside the van as well. None of the friends agreed with my assessment that the Quest looks cool (or my contention that minivans in general are cool), but all liked our LE's accommodations and the sheer convenience of its power-operated doors. Everyone but the driver (me) dozed off in its leather captains chairs, and the triple-zone climate control eliminated any need to negotiate over the set temperature while keeping the whole cabin cool in near 100-degree temps. Of course, you can find these conveniences in any modern minivan, but the Quest's second-row captain's chairs are some of the most luxurious seats you'll come across in the minivan class.
I do wish the driver seat-bottom cushion was a little longer to support my thighs better. The Friday afternoon drive to La Quinta took five hours total (with three stops to pick up passengers), and by Hour 4, dead butt was starting to be an issue. The trip back took only three hours with stops, and I had no such complaint.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,150 miles