Wrap-Up - 2012 Nissan Quest Long-Term Road Test

2012 Nissan Quest Long-Term Road Test



2012 Nissan Quest: Wrap-Up

January 18, 2013

Read the 2012 Nissan Quest introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the Nissan Quest long-term updates.

What We Got
The Nissan Quest "is on the verge of becoming a segment leader," we wrote following its 2nd-place finish in our 2011 minivan comparison test. Not coincidentally, we already had the two other podium finishers of that comparison in our long-term fleet. We looked forward to side-by-side drives in the three minivans.

A top-tier 2012 Nissan Quest LE was the appropriate choice for this test. It afforded us an opportunity to test all this minivan line had to offer in one package. We passed over the S ($27,750), SV ($31,050) SV and SL ($34,500) trims for our LE. The Quest LE had a starting MSRP of $41,350 at the time of this test.

All trim levels shared a 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unique to the LE, and in addition to all standard equipment found on lower level trims, were xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, navigation, rear entertainment, 13-speaker Bose stereo and a handful of upgraded seat features. We added the optional dual-opening moonroof ($1,350), carpeted floor mats ($205) and roof rails ($350). All told, our 2012 Nissan Quest LE had an MSRP of $44,065.

In our garage, utility elevates minivans to instant popularity. So we expected the Quest odometer to spin freely during our test. And it did, to the tune of 26,542 miles, well above our 20,000-mile goal. Here is what we found during our year with the 2012 Nissan Quest.

2012 Nissan Quest

Our Impressions

  • "The Quest's CVT transmission was impressive, too, despite two large grades to climb and numerous semis to pass. More than any other company, Nissan has CVT software figured out. There's just enough rev change in normal driving to make it seem like a regular transmission. It never gives off that drony, rubber band feeling common to many other CVTs. Yet there is no busy shifting when climbing slopes and no harsh double downshifts when pulling out to pass. This CVT is remarkable in that it doesn't seem like a CVT until it needs to behave like one." — Dan Edmunds

  • "...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

  • "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 and it accelerates. 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." — Josh Jacquot

  • "My favorite thing about our long-term Quest, by far, is its drivetrain.... The CVT that Nissan switched to on this generation changes everything.... My second favorite thing about this van is totally superficial: I love the exterior design. The Quest looks like it's related to any number of minivans, large and small, that I've seen in Japan. I have such a soft spot for JDM vans.... I have yet to meet anyone who's lukewarm on the styling of 2011 and later Nissan Quests. They either agree with me or they think I'm off my rocker." — Erin Riches

  • "Any homeowner who has ever visited Lowes or Home Depot knows ours is an 8-foot world. Trouble is, the Quest, despite its commodious outward appearance, is a 7-foot vehicle. As much as I prefer driving it and sitting in it for long distances, compared to a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, this shortcoming is enough to keep the Quest off my shopping list. It can't provide what I consider one of the primary benefits of minivan ownership." — Dan Edmunds

  • "Inside the cabin are ultra-plush seats, and even the door armrests and adjustable seat armrests proved soft, all-day perches for your elbows. Supple is exactly what I'm looking for when driving a minivan. I just want to kick back in quiet comfort and be thoroughly relaxed whenever I get to where I'm going. The Quest does this perfectly." — Mike Monticello

  • 2012 Nissan Quest

  • "Strong head- and crosswinds belted us wherever we went all day, but the Nissan 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 oversensitive degree) and the on-center position is well defined. And the steering rim has a nice heft to it." — Dan Edmunds

  • "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 Quest can't touch the low liftover of something like the 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. I don't think that's a worthwhile trade-off. My family of four has previously been able to pack our luggage for a week-long summer Oregon trip in the space shown above. That's impossible in the Quest." — Dan Edmunds

  • "After 22,300 miles and about 10 months living with our long-term Quest I have concluded that it is the minivan for me. It's the one I would buy.... Our long-term Odyssey and I got along fine and I very much enjoyed our long-term Sienna. But I'm happiest behind the wheel of the Nissan. All three vans have the features, all three vans have proven to be well-built, reliable transportation and all three vans are less than beautiful. But from the driver seat, I like the Quest best and its suspension tuning is the majority of the reason.... Its ride is smooth and comfortable without any extra body motions or unnecessary harshness. Both around town and on the interstate the Quest feels more like an expensive European sedan than a Japanese minivan." — Scott Oldham

  • "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.... 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 every day." — Brent Romans

  • "She's like Siri, without the creepy auto-tune.... I started making tracks. The sweet Nav Lady inside the Quest asked me a series of questions in a clear, reassuring tone and calculated a route back to the office. The input and routing was pretty quick and flawless. The Quest doesn't let you input new destinations while driving, but it made more sense to speak my intentions anyway rather than peck at the dial and Enter button, even if parked." — Dan Frio

  • "When it comes to the telematics system in the Quest, versatility is the key. Most features are accessible in multiple ways. Common controls for navigation, phone and audio are available using hard buttons, touchscreen buttons or voice controls. Why can't every manufacturer do this? This is a good system, and in many ways, an example of how to do it right." — Mike Schmidt

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance: The 2012 Nissan Quest politely requested routine service at 7,500-mile intervals and was otherwise tight-lipped when it came to maintenance. The van was worry-free during our term of ownership. We averaged a manageable $64 per scheduled visit to the dealer for oil changes and tire rotations. No breakdowns. No drama.

2012 Nissan Quest

Service Campaigns: A service campaign to remedy a potential stalling issue was our only run-in with the recall police. During a regular maintenance visit the dealer updated the ECM, which effectively reprogrammed the fuel pump control module.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy: We averaged 19 mpg during our test. The open highway, of which our Quest saw plenty, facilitated up to 24 mpg and a single-tank best of 377 miles. At its worst, the V6 returned as low as 19 mpg.

2012 Nissan Quest

Resale and Depreciation: One year ago Nissan delivered a $44,065 Quest LE to our garage. After 26,000 miles Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the van at $29,241. This calculation was based on a private-party sale.

Depreciation of 34 percent suggested a weak market for used minivans. But comparisons to our recently departed 2011 Toyota Sienna (22 percent over 23,000 miles) and 2011 Honda Odyssey (18 percent over 20,000 miles) hinted that, among this trio, the lack of interest was unique to the Quest.

Summing Up

Pros: This Quest has a strong V6 paired to the best CVT in the business. Comfort, interior durability and reliability were great. These are qualities we look for in a minivan.

Cons: Its exterior design was off-putting to most. Resale value was lower than its competitors. The non-removable seat configuration limited cargo capacity somewhat.

Bottom Line: After a year with the 2012 Nissan Quest we highly recommend it as one of the best minivans on the market. The only downside was its above-average depreciation.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $191.77 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: ECM reflash
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 24.2 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 11.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 11.8 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $29,241 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $14,824 (34% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 26,542 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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2012 Nissan Quest Research