2012 Nissan Quest LE: Oregon Day 4 - Crab Run
December 30, 2011
One of our family traditions is a big year-end crab feed. Equipped with an ice chest, mom and I loaded ourselves into the 2012 Nissan Quest LE and set off downhill to the fish market in nearby Gold Beach to pick up some fresh Dungeness crab.
The Quest makes the trip down the narrow and twisting Carpenterville Road a piece of cake, thanks to ample suspension travel to soak up the slumping asphalt. The ride is admirably smooth and comfortable thanks to springs and dampers that are neither too firm nor too soft.
But none of this means the Quest handles like a soggy fish. All the while it carves through the numerous tight corners with reassuring accuracy, if not speed -- this is, after all, a minivan, not a 370Z.. The direct and well-weighted steering that felt good on the open road on the trip up from California proves to be just as well suited to this sort of terrain.
And the CVT transmission remains impressive over the rollercoaster of tight corners, short uphill bursts and longer grades. The very seamlessness of the thing only adds to the impression that the Quest is effortlessly gliding along.
The only thing this CVT seems to lack is something akin to a first gear hold for the ultra-steep twisting downhill that is my parents half-mile driveway; the provided "O/D off" and "L" settings don't cut it, leaving me no choice but to ride the brakes instead.
With non-removable middle row seats that fold flat, and third row seats that fold forward to meet them at the same level, this shelf represents the overall load floor height in the Nissan Quest. Mom's crab chest fits, but the space available here feels more crossover than minivan. There is a well beneath this level, but in our Quest LE it's no more than 10 inches deep.
This is nothing like the usual minivans that have third row seats that fold back on themselves into a low well with removable middle seats and a low load floor ahead. The Nissan Quest can't touch the low liftover of something like this 2008 Honda minivan, which has tons of deep well space...
Nissan does this in order to make second row removal unnecessary (and, by design, impossible), but I don't think that's a worthwhile tradeoff. My family of four has previously been able to pack all of our luggage for a week-long summer Oregon trip in the space shown above. That's impossible in the Quest.
Meanwhile, 10 Dungeness crab + 12 people + 30 minutes = time for dessert.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing