Auto Review: The ultimate getaway car

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jul. 19, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

This time of year it’s certainly not unusual to pack up your whole crew and escape for a much-needed vacation. It’s times like these where your family-hauling automotive workhorse gets to really show its mettle (as if it doesn’t have to do this every week, just performing its normal transport duties). There have been challenges from the SUV set, but when it comes to usable room, minivans are still the king of the hill when hauling a family and all their vacation cargo. The Nissan Quest has always been a competitor in this class, but has lagged behind the likes of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Dodge/Chrysler Caravans in sales success and overall refinement.

The latest 2012 version is a dramatic improvement over the old version, and shows that Nissan is taking this class very seriously. In fact, the company claims that the Quest “gets” parenting better than any other minivan. “While minivans remain one of the most maligned symbols of adulthood, where some see them as a surrendering of youth and fun, Nissan sees the minivan as a celebration of family life,” explains Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division NA. “It’s not only for moms on weekdays, but for fun times with the entire family on weekends.”

The stylish Quest rides on a long, roomy 118-inch wheelbase (based on Nissan’s “D” platform, also utilized by the Altima, Maxima and Murano) and is available in four trim levels (S, SV, SL and LE).  All are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower, which is dispensed to the front wheels via a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This is a perfectly-tailored drivetrain for this application, with smooth, refined power delivery and a good balance of performance and fuel efficiency. The Quest is quiet at speed, with a very smooth ride that helps make long trips more tolerable. As you would expect, the tuning of the suspension is biased towards a luxurious ride, and as a result this is no racecar, but the Quest is very predictable during hard cornering and the brakes are strong and deliver reasonably short stopping distances. The latest crash prevention and collision protection is on board with a vengeance, making the Quest a very safe place for your most precious human cargo.

Inside, our opulent LE model was both roomy and pampered all occupants, with even the third row seats delivering good comfort. The surround Privacy Glass makes an already roomy interior feel even more spacious, and power sliding side doors and rear liftgate make loading/unloading very convenient. The second and third row seats fold flat into the floor, transforming the vehicle into a cargo van with a whopping 108 cubic feet of load space. Even with the third row in place, there’s a trunk under the floor that can swallow an impressive amount of gear and keep it out of sight.

The 2012 Nissan Quest 3.5 LE is EPA rated 19 MPG city/24 highway, and including the Navigation System and rear-seat DVD entertainment, the sticker came to $42,365. www.nissanusa.com


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