2011 Nissan Quest: Does It Pass the Mom Test?
Yes…and no. Of course it would be nearly impossible for a minivan to score 100% on the mom test, but the Quest comes pretty close. I’m just happy that Nissan has decided to embrace the family side of the minivan rather than attempting to market it on sex appeal or driving fun. Try as you will to make it turn heads in a positive way, once someone has given in to having a minivan parked in their driveway their decision to purchase will be less on exterior appearance and more on comfort, convenience and features.
That said, the exterior styling of the Quest did actually appeal to me. Sort of Ford Flex-ish in the top half, Nissan has moved away from the needle-nose minivan and more towards the box (I mean that in a good way). Though some may be overwhelmed by the amount of sheet metal (the doors seem huge), the defined lines seem to break things up a bit and the roof rails (on the SL and LE trim levels) and standard rear spoiler add a sporty touch. But what’s the best thing about the exterior? The one-touch open sliding doors and liftgate. These doors open automatically with the tiny touch of a finger, elbow, nose, or other body part. No button to press or handle to grasp, this feature is very cool. Other exterior features include blind spot warning (notifies the driver of a vehicle in their blindspot by an interior chime, but I personally prefer the light indicator on the outside mirrors), dual power opening moonroofs and Easy Fill Tire Alert (very cool – fill your tires with no gauge – hazards flash once when air is flowing into the tire and the horn honks to indicate that the tire is filled to optimum capacity). The overall height is 2-3″ taller than the competition making for amazing headroom.
The ride of the Quest is smooth and quiet (without children, that is). Driving on multiple road surfaces and varying elevations caused slight fluctuation in interior noise, whether engine or road, but overall, it was impressively quiet. Maneuverability is phenomenal. With a turning radius equal to that of the Altima, tight turnarounds, parking, and everyday maneuvering are a breeze.
Now on to the good stuff – the interior features. Every minivan owner wants their vehicle to make their life easier, less cluttered, and overall more enjoyable. Whether it’s kids, the stuff they bring with them, the Costco bulk packages, or your personal items (purse, cell phone, iPod, etc.), having a convenient place for everything is a priority. Want to bring 16 beverages with you? All 16 of them will have a nice home in the cup holders located throughout the vehicle (yes, an industry-leading 16 of them). The first thing I noticed: that both my driving partner and I could put our medium-sized purses conveniently on the floor between the center stack and the center console. Not in the back; not in the footwell; right where we could reach them if needed, but otherwise out of the way. The center console is usable, with cup holders, a USB port, 120V power outlet, and a shallow tray for personal electronics, yet also low, making access to the 2nd row possible if needed. The two cup holders in the dash could probably disappear without complaint and be replaced with an open area for small items that need to be accessible but out of the way. All models have a nice mix of wood trim and soft touch materials.
The 2nd and 3rd row seats of the Quest fold forward with a one-touch operation. With forward-folding design, the seats never require removal. When folded, a flat load floor is created that offers a full 4′ width and close to 8′ length.
This fold-flat operation optimizes the use of the deep rear storage well since they don’t ever need to hold a seat and can always hold the stuff you want with you (how nice to not have to remove all that stuff you have in the back of your vehicle in order to store your seat!). This area is covered with two light-weight, removable load floor panels, for easy access to the storage wells, hiding of its contents, and creation of the flat load floor.
For entertainment, the Quest has an optional 11″ roof-mounted DVD entertainment system. Unfortunately, this is my one major complaint. Nissan opted for a single screen rather than a dual screen set-up. Though the 11″ screen is huge, and Nissan feels this makes up for the lack of a 2nd screen, eliminating the ability for passengers to watch two different movies, watch one movie and play video games, or any other combination of activities, is a real faux pas. I’m not saying that we need to provide our kids this much flexibility in entertainment (even though my husband would truly love to camp out in the 3rd row and watch his own movies on family trips as well), but when all of your competition has dual screen capability, this is a big miss. Another part of the argument for a single screen is that the dual-capability widescreens on the Odyssey and Sienna not only produce a smaller picture but they may also be difficult to watch side-by-side. Regardless, they still have dual screens.
Other cool stuff includes a lower step-in height for easy ingress/egress by small children, removable 2nd row center console, 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, and an 8″ VGA dash-mounted color display. The Quest also offers navigation, Bluetooth (audio and phone), iPod connectivity, RearView monitor (back-up camera), tri-zone climate control, heated seats, heated outside mirrors, interior conversation mirror and Bose premium audio system.
So, would my kids be happy? They can have their own individual reclining seats, easily watch a movie, store their stuff in the center console, stare at the sky through the moonroof, and force me to play what’s on their iPod for all to hear, so yes, they’d be happy. What will be their first fight on a family trip? Which movie to watch (yes, I’m still unhappy about the lack of dual screens). Would I be happy? I’m comfortable, have a ton of room, don’t have to dig for my key to start the car or open the door, have a nice place for my purse, my coffee, and my phone, I can see behind me when I back up, and I can keep the lawn chairs, the soccer balls, the blankets, water bottles, and the gym bag with me at all times. Yes, I’m happy.