2011 Nissan Quest SL

Matt Tierney

Finally, a Nissan in a mainstream segment that possesses some of the charm and style of the brand's many niche offerings. I love the Quest's slab-sided styling, if only because it goes directly against the swoopy-van trend currently pursued by the new Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. It's almost like it's saying, "Yeah I'm a huge van designed for carrying around juice boxes and dog kennels. You got a problem with that?" I don't. The interior isn't quite as spunky -- no shag carpets here, like in the Cube -- but is still more interesting to look at than the cabins of its main competitors. I'm too young and too single to test the van's kid-and-crap-carrying capability, but I do like the utility of the deep underfloor storage bin behind the third row.

Alas, this Quest has an unhappy conclusion due to one very significant flaw: the powertrain. We've all done plenty of complaining about the VQ V-6 -- apparently not enough, as it's not yet been replaced by something modern and refined. In this application, it sounds pained as it struggles against the Quest's 4500 pounds. Worse, the CVT automatic pins the engine in its most abrasive range. I can't imagine tolerating this noise when the competition from Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler (Chrysler!) has made a priority of engineering quiet, smooth engines and better transmissions.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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