2012 Nissan Quest Long Term Road Test - Performance

2012 Nissan Quest Long Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (1)
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  • Long-Term

2012 Nissan Quest LE: O/D Off

July 09, 2012

Quest OD off button.jpg

I hadn't made much use of the Quest's Overdrive Off button on the shift lever. Up until now, that is. The reason is twofold: First, I much prefer a true manual mode for downshifting to get engine braking. And second, I figured it only had an effect at highway speeds like most O/D off buttons on traditional automatics. 

In actuality...

The CVT in the Quest will give some semblance of meaningful engine braking via the O/D Off button as low as 25 mph. 

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2012 Nissan Quest: Road Trip Notes #3

July 06, 2012


After hundreds of miles, I'm not digging the Quest's cruise control system. The buttons themselves are fine. They're simple, easy to reach and easy to feel your way around. It's the way the system controls the van's speed that's annoying.

Call me spoiled, but I'm used to systems that bump the set speed in 1 mph increments every time you push the acc/dec switch. Some even jump in 5 mph increments if you hit it two times quick.

The Quest doesn't seem to work this way. Sometimes I push it quickly and nothing seems to happen. Other times I push and hold and then I get a big surge of power and a setting that's way too high. Maybe it is resetting in 1 mph increments but it sure doesn't feel like it.

My other small gripe is going downhill. Most systems are smart enough to control your speed on downhill sections, but in the Quest it will go several miles an hour over the set speed if you're not paying attention. Not a big deal, but another thing to keep an eye on when you're out on the interstate.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 18,082 miles

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2012 Nissan Quest: A Look Underneath

July 06, 2012


Our 2-post Rotary Lift has been busy. Here's a look underneath our long-term Nissan Quest. Wait until you see where they put the spare tire.

More photos after the jump.

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2012 Nissan Quest: Road Trip Notes

July 03, 2012


No surprise that our Nissan Quest is a great road trip vehicle, but I still learned a few things on our way to Monument Valley.

1. You can't have too many cupholders. Mainly because they're really good for holding just about anything. Sure, you might only have a few drinks going at one time, but you also need someone to stash spare change, a pair of binoculars and a big wad of napkins.

2. It's nice to have a real power outlet. The Quest has a 120V outlet in the center console that charges up phones and tablets way faster than your average USB port.

3. The CVT/V6 combo in this van works well for passing on the highway. Once it finds the sweet spot it just sits there until you've made your pass. I grew to like it.

4. Definitely make a reservation at The View hotel so you can have a scene like this when you look out your window in the morning.

Plenty more to come later.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 17,654 miles

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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

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Steering Feel?

May 03, 2012


The memories of last weekend's fun are fading fast, but looking through some photos today reminds me of the last 15 miles of twisting road before we reached our destination. And the way the Quest's steering felt on them.

Or, rather, the way it didn't.

That the Quest's electric-over-hydraulic power steering system isn't as good as many fully electric systems is somewhat surprising. But that's the case. Even Mr. Social Responsibility agrees -- the Quest's steering is unencumbered by feel as its front tires approach their grip limit. Mercifully, they scream in protest so one is given some warning that things are going awry.

Even so, that didn't stop him from putting that Odyssey away in no time flat.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Track Tested

May 01, 2012


Every so often, a track test gets lost in the shuffle. It's rare that this happens with something like our Mustang GT, but it is regrettable that it's happened with our Long-Term 2012 Nissan Quest LE.

Those of you slogging through our reviews of the doors and seating arrangements, function and fuel economy just to see what the 3.5-liter, CVT-equipped Quest managed during track testing will have to wait no more!

Vehicle: 2012 Nissan Quest LE
Odometer: 3,538
Date: 1/04/2012
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $44,065

Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Continuously variable
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, port-injected V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,498/213
Redline (rpm): 6,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 260 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 240 @ 4,400
Brake Type (front): 11.4-by-1.1-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron disc with 2-piston sliding caliper
Brake Type (rear): 12.1-by-0.6-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Electric-over-hydraulic-assist, speed-proportional power rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers
Tire Size (front): P235/55R18 99T
Tire Size (rear): P235/55R18 99T
Tire Brand: Toyo
Tire Model: A22
Tire Type: All-season 
Wheel size: 18-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel material (front/rear): Cast aluminum
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,592 (55.1% front)

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 3.5 (4.1 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 5.7 (6.2 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 8.3 (8.9 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.0 (8.5 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 11.8 (12.3 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.2 @ 89.5 (16.6 @ 89.1 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 125

Slalom (mph): 56.9 (56.7 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.75 (0.74 w/ ESC off)

Db @ Idle: 44.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 66.8
RPM @ 70 mph: 2,200

Tester's comments:

Acceleration: Weak off the line, good power by 4,500 rpm. Once the engine gets the revs up to 6,100 rpm, the CVT just holds it there for the rest of the strip. Quickest run came with shifter in "L," but not really sure why. No manual shifting ability: just Drive, Low and an Overdrive-Off button on the console lever.

Braking: Long-travel pedal with a spongy feel, especially first stop. But pedal got firmer with each stop. Lots of nosedive, some rear lockup. First stop was shortest at 125 feet. Longest was final (6th) at 129 feet, at which point the brakes were quite stinky.

Slalom: Not a big shock, but the Quest's cushy ride gives boaty, floaty handling with steering that's pretty vague. The important thing here was to try to stay below the non-defeat ESC system's intervention point, or it would start stabbing the brakes.

Skidpad: Surprisingly receptive to drop-throttle to adjust for understeer with ESC/TC off (ESC can't be fully defeated). With ESC on, the Quest did a crazy amount of braking to control understeer, swinging the tail out slightly at times, and this was actually just ever so slightly quicker than with the system partially off.

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Getting Dirty in Tonopah

April 26, 2012


No, our 2012 Nissan Quest didn't visit a ranch -- not that kind of ranch, anyway. But it did spend some time on some graded dirt roads.

If you must know, I'll lay my nerd cred on the table: last weekend's trip to the ET highway was a geocaching trip. Some insane person put out 1,500 of the things in the area around Rachel, Nevada, each spaced exactly 0.1 mile apart.

A team of 17 even more insane persons nerds known as Team DNF, myself included, made an assault on the ET series in five vehicles. I signed out the Quest because of it's spaceous middle row, power sliding door and low step-in height. After all, my runner would be stepping in and out a lot.

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: 600-Mile Road Trip, Pt. 2

April 18, 2012


Our longterm 2012 Nissan Quest's transmission doesn't have a manual mode of any kind. At first, this fact gave me some some pause regarding its abiltiy to provide engine braking, which is something I use a lot to regulate speed especially on long freeway road trips.

However, its lack of a manual mode proved to be no issue at all. The Quest has a very effective and quick way to provide engine braking. In fact, it provides two degrees of engine braking. Press the button on the selector to "turn off" the overdrive ratio and you instantly get the first level of engine braking. Need more? Drop the selector down to "L". With the use of these features I never missed not having a manual mode.

And the Quest's CVT is truly outstanding in other ways. First, no shift shock. Ever! Can't say that about conventional gearbox, regardless of gear count. The Quest's CVT is uncommonly smooth, which is just what you want when you're transporting five other people (some of which are sensitive to a car's pitching movements).

The pairing of the CVT to a high-torque engine like the Quest's V6 is the secret sauce -- CVTs tend to magnify the gutlessness and buzziness of four-cylinder engines. If you have preconceived notions regarding CVTs, you owe it to yourself to experience the Nissan's V6/CVT combo. It's really the best implementation of a CVT to date and it gives up nothing to a conventional autobox.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 10,590 miles.

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: 600-Mile Road Trip

April 16, 2012


Spending 600 miles behind the wheel of our longterm 2012 Nissan Quest en route to the shame of our nation, Las Vegas, gave me a pretty good idea of its freeway attributes.

Let's talk about its size. It casts a large shadow. Really large (and it's really dowdy-looking, but I'm probably not the first to express this opinion). And the not-insignificant mass of this maxivan is really palpable when you traverse large bumps and compressions, moreso than in our Odyssey or Sienna. You picture the Quest's suspension straining to manage the colossal structure bearing down upon it.

Yet in practice, the Quest drives less 'tippy' and top-heavy than our longterm Explorer. Plus, the Quest's strong V6 punches it around with enough authority that it never feels lacking for power. The quick and adequately-hefted steering, too, helps the minivan drive more tidily than I had expected.

So call it a split decision -- the Quest feels heavier than its direct competition but this impression doesn't dominate the minivan's every move.

More impressions and observations to follow.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 10,590 miles.

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Could Be My Minivan

March 31, 2012

Quest front int.jpg

First off, why are these things are called minivans when they're anything but? Still, if I had four or five kids and decided to get a "maxivan" (sorry Dodge) instead of a Ford Flex, the Quest would be my choice. My main reasons why echo the sentiments of some of my colleagues...

Solid Driving Dynamics: 
The Quest's V6 packs plenty of punch and yet, driven in a worst-case scenario environment (heavy-footed staff and perpetual L.A. "freeway" gridlock) we are averaging 19 mpg. Nissan's CVT is the best in the business as it smoothly transfers the power to the wheels without feeling like an old automatic with a slipping torque converter. Lastly, the Quest provides a plush ride without feeling like a King size mattress on four beach balls when a faster corner comes up. 

I know this is about as big a concern in this segment as singing ability is to Nicki Minaj. But on the other hand, I just couldn't drive something as fugly as the Odyssey and the Sienna is just bland. The Quest is the only one that strikes me as approaching attractive. Yes, the front end is a little weird, but I like the profile with its sweeping character lines and Mini Cooper/Ford Flex-like greenhouse with its blacked-out roof pillars that give a wrap-around glass effect. Just watch the lower skirting when you open the passenger's door next to a high curb. 

As other staffers have noted, the Quest's inner sanctum looks and feels a cut (or two) above the others. The flowing dash design, convincing fake wood accents, high quality materials and contrasting piping on the seats make it seem as if the Quest LE was indeed at first slated to be an Infiniti.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2012 Nissan Quest: Man Van Motivation

March 26, 2012


Nothing makes you forget about the Quest's CVT quicker than its burly V6 engine. Actually, to be fair, the CVT in the Quest is pretty damn good as those transmission go. It's not too "rubbery" in its power delivery and it helps keep the mileage in check.

But back to the engine. It's fantastic. Sounds good, feels powerful at nearly any speed and has little trouble launching this sizable van into traffic. Dodge may have its own "man van", but this Quest would hold its own in a minivan stoplight showdown. Not sure such events ever happen, but if they did the Quest would be ready. 

Ed Hellwig, Editor

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Supple

March 09, 2012

Quest beauty.jpg

That's what I think of whenever I get in and start driving the Nissan Quest. Everything is supple, from the way it rides and the ease with which the suspension soaks up bumps, to the relaxed calibration of the throttle.

Inside the cabin...

are ultra-plush seats, and even the door armrests and adjustable seat armrests provide soft, all-day perches for your elbows.

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2012 Nissan Quest: Favorite Minivan To Drive Everyday

February 15, 2012


If I had to choose between our Odyssey, Quest and Sienna to drive every day, I'd pick the Quest. At first, there's nothing dramatic that stands out about it. But there are some little things that combine to make it pretty enjoyable.

For one, the Quest drives smaller than it really is. The Quest's responsive CVT comes into play here, as the van is always willing to move out smartly when I ask it to. Handling is beneficial -- the Quest is more willing to turn in than average. It's also probably due to the fact that when I take a look behind me, it doesn't immediately seem like I have an aircraft hanger's worth of space behind me. The Quest is just more personable. Rear outward visibility seems better, too, which could be due to the Quest's boxier shape.

The other thing that strikes me about the Quest is that it's just nicer inside. There aren't any cheap interior materials like in our Sienna or a convoluted dashboard design like our Odyssey. The switchgear is high quality and the navigation interface is excellent. These are the things that you have to interact with everyday.

The Quest certainly has some drawbacks, the main ones for me being reduced cargo carrying capacity (the downside to not being an aircraft hanger) and exterior styling. From an ownership standpoint, those might be enough to dissuade me. But for picking a set of minivan keys off our car sign-out board, I'll go Quest everytime.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,657 miles

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2012 Nissan Quest: Thoughts From The Freeway

February 09, 2012


Took our Quest on a long highway drive yesterday. Nothing shocking about the experience -- it's a minivan. But a few positive qualities did stand out, most of which we're commented about before in various posts.

The CVT is a standout, particularly for climbing grades -- doing the same grade in the Sienna will have you reaching for its manual gear selector to get it out from its stubborn, sixth-gear programming. The Quest's steering is also pretty tidy, as is suspension tuning. Oh, and the fancy-pants air filtration system? Worked great for when I passed roadside dairy farms. Didn't smell a thing.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Nissan Quest: 10 Ways Its Better than a CLS63

February 06, 2012

Benz vs Quest.jpg 

Mike Magrath has been tasked with doing the Edmunds rating on the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. I've been tasked with doing the Edmunds model review on the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. Though I was fully prepared to lirpa him to shreds in a fight to the death to get what could very well be my favorite car, luckily geography was on our side. We live in blocks away, and as we often do, made a switch midday Saturday after Magrath took the first round of custody. I can only imagine what a bystander would think seeing two guys flipping the keys to each other's wildly different cars then driving off.

Clearly, they'd think he'd lost this trade. Badly. Not quite Babe Ruth to the Yankees bad, but not good. Still, in order to make him feel better, here are 10 ways the Nissan Quest is better than a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG:

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2012 Nissan Quest: My Second Favorite Thing

February 03, 2012


My favorite thing about our long-term 2012 Nissan Quest, by far, is its drivetrain. The previous Quest used a version of the VQ-series 3.5-liter V6, too, but the continuously variable transmission that Nissan has switched to on this generation changes everything.

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2012 Nissan Quest: First Tier

January 25, 2012

nissan quest a.jpg

After spending time in the minivans we've had recently in our fleet -- the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and now the Nissan Quest -- one might assume that all minivans offer the kind of reasonably responsive performance that's a million miles removed from the groaning, trucklike handling seen in minivans of yesterday.

It's a happy assumption, but unfortunately, it's a false one. How do I know? I recently spent some time in a Dodge Grand Caravan.

The experience made me that much more appreciative of the Quest's relatively peppy performance off the line, and of how maneuverable it feels, despite its size. The Nissan definitely belongs in the first tier of the minivan segment. The Grand Caravan -- well, from a handling perspective, it doesn't.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Appropriate Powertrain

January 21, 2012


If you're a regular reader you've likely heard us rail against CVT transmissions. Their pitfalls include everything from slow responses to endless engine droning under accelereation to poor control interface. Most of us aren't huge fans.

That's not the case with the powertrain in the Quest. At least for me. 

Here we've got an appropriate application for the CVT. And pairing it with a big, torquey V6 is the only way to make such a transmission good. Better, in fact, than its conventional torque-converter-equipped competition.

Step on the throttle in the Quest and it goes. Right now. No waiting, regardless of the situation. Rapid response isn't something I would ever have thought would be important in a minivan until I had it . And now I can fully appreciate a van that goes when asked. Hammer it from 60 mph to make a pass it acclerates. Immediately. Do the same in the Sienna or Odyssey and guess what happens first? The car slows down -- yes, it decelerates -- while the transmission finds the right gear, selects it (often with a huge surge to the powertrain and lots of noise) and then it begins to accelerate. Not so in the Quest.

Furthermore, because this Quest's VQ35 powerplant is actually powerful enough to push the van around at modest rpm, the engine drone is minimal and short lived.

I'm in.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Nissan ?uest LE: It's Grand

January 18, 2012


I love this tall, slab-sided mutant freak. Pathetic, I know. Fawning over a minivan is like marveling at the tax code. But I thought it was the best of the bunch when Erin wrote her minivan comparo several months ago. I don't feel much different after driving our new long-termer for the first time. The V6 and CVT are a great match. Where the Odyssey's six-speed auto is indecisive and hesitant, the Quest is linear and almost seamless. The Sienna delivers its power in pretty authoritative fashion, but still not as fluidly as the Quest.

It feels like a proper big van.

Big, tall doors that slam shut with some wallop. Wide captain's chairs that could probably benefit from slightly more bolstering. Jumbo mirrors, and a rich feeling cabin with wood inlays and quality leather. Unfortunate color, though. We will absolutely destroy these tan seats and carpet with the kids, dogs, sand, dirt, bikes and lumber that will pass through in the course of 20,000 miles.

Look forward to getting this thing on a good road trip, and see if the fold-flat seating eats as much cargo volume as the specs say. See if it's a real deal breaker.

For the longest time, I never really got Nissan. When the cool kids started swapping SR20s into their 240's, I stayed in the Honda end zone, rallying around B18C's and then the K20. You were either a front- or rear-drive guy in those days. If you were into getting sideways, you weren't in a Honda. Fast-forward to the worlds of parenting and kid-crap hauling, and I'm now a Nissan homer all day.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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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.

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Oregon Day 3 -- Bend to Brookings

December 27, 2011


Yeah, we've been out and about in our 2012 Nissan Quest for more than three days, but the last couple don't count because we sat planted in one place, exchanging gifts and stuffing our faces. That we were doing so in Bend, Oregon was a huge plus.

Today we got back on the road and headed for Christmas II at my folks place on the Oregon coast just north of Brookings near a place called Pistol River.

Between here and there sits Crater Lake National Park, but with no time to stop we skirted along its northern flank on our way over the Cascade range. The steady climb up highway 138 started out dry enough, but it quickly turned to slush, patchy ice and, near the 5,400-foot summit, snow. That we got through without a cracked windshield from scattered patches of pumice laid down by ODOT snowplows was something of a minor miracle.

This was by no means a severe test, and there was certainly less snow than we found the last time we came through in our long-term Ford Flex. But the front-drive Quest and its all-season tires did manage to make the Bend-area locals and their studded tires look a little silly. (Actually, long-time Bend natives scoff at the studded rubber, too, attributing their popularity to Southern California transplants that have never heard of Blizzaks, apparently.)

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2012 Nissan Quest LE: Oregon Day 1 -- Mt. Shasta

December 23, 2011


Day one of our Oregon holiday trip saw the 2012 Nissan Quest make it 650 miles up the road to Mt. Shasta, California. The night chill certainly makes it feel like December up here, but the weak coating of snow on this southernmost member of the Cascade range looks more like late spring.

Nearly all of the trip took place on the I-5 freeway, save for a self-imposed 100-mile detour we took onto the northern stretch of highway 99 to avoid construction delays on the interstate. Strong head- and crosswinds belted us wherever we went all day, but the Nissan Quest didn't seem to notice and tracked straight and true.

In fact the Quest's steering is emerging as a strong suit. It's nicely weighted, precise (but not to a nervous and over-sensitive degree) and the on-center position is well-defined. And the steering wheel rim has a nice heft to it. All day I was reminded of the Infiniti QX-56, a big SUV I enjoyed far more than I expected on the way to Mammoth a couple summers ago.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests