Once you're all set and on your way, the Quest has the entertainment and luxury features expected in this class. If you're prepared to spend more than 40 grand on a minivan, Nissan will be happy to oblige with features like HID headlights, a navigation system with an 8-inch screen, a power third-row seat-up function, and a comprehensive DVD entertainment system. The package includes an 11-inch VGA display for rear passengers, a 7-inch color QVGA display in the dash, DVD/CD/Flash memory, an auxiliary audio/video input jack, and even a Driver Concentration Switch.
Four Quest models are offered: the S, SV, SL, and LE. When the 2011 Quest goes on sale early next year, the S model is the one you'll see advertised in dealer ads. It has 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, Nissan's Intelligent Key with a push-button ignition, fold-flat second- and third-row seats, and a four-speaker sound system with a six-disc CD-player. We'd recommend upgrading to the SV, which has 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a USB port with iPod connectivity, RearView Monitor, three-zone auto temperature control and, importantly, one-touch power-sliding doors.
Things start becoming luxurious at the SL level, which has leather seats and 18-inch alloy wheels. Homelink, a power liftgate, and a Quick Release fold-flat third row are also included. The standard Quick Comfort heated front seats puts a new twist on heated seats. First, Nissan says, the system focuses on warming the body parts most sensitive to heat, like the thighs and hips. Once that's done, the seat will increase heating power on other pressure points.
The LE offers the navigation system and a Bose sound system with 12 speakers plus HID headlights, the DVD entertainment system, a power front passenger seat, manual blinds for the second and third rows, and an advanced climate control system that reduces allergens and unwanted odors.
Whatever trim you choose, the Quest is about 2 inches shorter than the Honda Odyssey and Dodge Grand Caravan. The Quest is also a couple inches taller than those minivans, but not as wide. Cargo room behind the third row seats is competitive at 35.1 cubic feet (38.4 for the Odyssey and 33.0 for the Grand Caravan). Fold down those seats in the Quest and the picture isn't quite so good: 63.6 cubic feet of space versus 83.3 in the Grand Caravan and 93.1 in the Odyssey.
Despite that cargo space difference, Nissan would, of course, rather parents take a Quest than an Odyssey. The reemergence of Nissan's minivan should help Nissan keep more drivers within the brand, potentially cutting into the market share of other models. Is the Quest good enough to compete? Consumers will decide when it goes on sale early next year.