2011 Nissan Quest SL

David Zenlea Rusty Blackwell Matt Tierney
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2011 Nissan Quest

The previous-generation Quest looked a bit too weird for my liking, but I really dig the distinctive yet tasteful exterior styling of the brand-new 2011 edition. Unlike Matt, however, I actually thought that the Quest felt smaller inside than the other minivans we recently tested. The sliding door openings definitely were smaller. Also, the inside buttons that operate those power sliding doors were very small and hard to push with winter gloves on. The ingress handle on the B-pillar got in my way a couple times when I was loading the kids, but I appreciated the Nissan's excellent headroom. I certainly did not appreciate the fact that the power sliding door's don't-pinch-a-person reversing function had a threshold that I found scarily too high. Luckily I -- and not one of my kids -- was the test subject. Nissan PR is investigating this concern ...

I thought the Quest decently well, but, unlike David, I felt that the CVT worked very smoothly and unobtrusively. Of course, my two-year-old was practicing singing the alphabet song at the top of her lungs most of the weekend, so I didn't have much chance to ruminate on engine noise. I was pleasantly shocked, however, when the ancient-looking radio head unit showed off dual functionality as a rearview camera.

Some car buyers like to spring for something that's different from what everyone else is buying; the Nissan Cube is a great example. I'm not so sure, however, that minivan buyers care much about that, which is unfortunate for Nissan, because its Quest certainly offers something different in a relatively mundane category. The big boys -- Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna -- all sold right around 100,000 copies each in the U.S. in 2010. I suspect that Nissan, though, will find itself battling the Kia Sedona (which sold less than 22,000 units in 2010) in the second tier of minivan sales.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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