2012 Nissan Quest LE: Return Trip From Oregon
January 03, 2012
The plan was simple. We'd set our alarms at 5:30, grab a quick breakfast, say our goodbyes and load ourselves into the 2012 Nissan Quest in time to hit the road before the sun came up at 6:30 am. With any luck we'd make it home the same day.
No one bothered to tell this tree -- or the weather, for that matter, which had dumped eight inches of rain over the previous two days and made everything soggy.
We came upon the fallen tree while rounding one of Capenterville Road's signature pitch-dark corners, where homes are non existent and overhanging trees block the starlight. Good thing I wasn't hustling too fast. Good thing the Quest has bright high-beam headlights and steady brakes.
Lucky for us this 12-inch diameter tree had shattered on impact into 6- and 8-foot logs that my daughters and I could push, roll or otherwise drag off the side of the road. In ten minutes we were back on our way, fully awake.
Personally, I prefer to start my morning with a good strong cup of coffee.
We fueled up in Smith River, just this side of the California border where I could pump the gas myself -- something I like to do when I'm trying to take fuel economy readings.
No trip to the California redwoods is complete without a stop at Trees of Mystery to pose with Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe.
I've seen auto-recirc systems before, but the one in the Nissan Quest works better than any I've seen. The sudsy car icon above actually represents unwanted odors outside the car that have tickled the Quest's olfactory sensors enough to engage recirc mode.
At various times during the trip it accurately sniffed out 18-wheelers and other poorly-tuned diesel contraptions on I-5, some dairy farms and those roadside cattle pens near Harris Ranch, a rusty old pickup we came up behind well before we could positively identify it as a pickup, and many others. Suffice it to say that my wife, who usually exhibits the same eagerness to stab the recirc button as she does the seat heaters, was perfectly happy to let the auto-recirc feature do its business.
As for the grapes, don't ask. Something about ions. On this point the manual reads like it was written by someone from Sedona. In any case the grape icon stayed on 100% of the time while the word "quick" came and went once in awhile. Whatever it's specific contribution, the Quest's interior environment stayed consistently pleasant for the duration.
The miles rolled on while we listened to a Terry Pratchett audiobook synched to my iPod through the Quest's excellent USB inteface. Along the way there were two more stops for gas, a couple of stretch breaks, a 2-hour visit with my wife's sister and, once we got within shouting distance of So-Cal, a dinner at In-n-Out.
In the end we made the trip home the same day with little more personal wear and tear than we started with thanks to comfy seats, a smooth and quiet ride and a willing engine and transmission. Of the three minivans in our fleet right now, this is my hands-down road-trip favorite.
But the Quest drank more than I thought it would along the way. It averaged 19.7 mpg over 2,296 miles, much of it highway. To my mind that compares poorly to the EPA rating of 19 City/24 Highway/21 Combined. This sort of trip should result in an average slightly north of EPA combined, I'd have thought.
We have a year to see if things improve on this front. And I'm not yet sure that I could live with the Quest's cargo and seat-folding strategy, either.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,363 miles