Despite its laudable virtues, Nissan’s minivan has never quite managed to approach the appeal of the top contenders, led by the Dodge Grand Caravan and Honda Odyssey. Seating only seven passengers, Quest vies with the Odyssey for the title of sportiest minivan.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting above $27,000 (including destination charge) in entry-level S trim, the Quest holds a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and continuously variable transmission (CVT). It also comes in SV, SL, and top-spec Platinum trim.

Standard equipment for the Quest SV includes:

  • Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Rearview camera
  • Power sliding side doors
  • Automatic climate control
  • Bluetooth
  • 4.3-inch LCD display
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

Performance Pros

Nissan Quest Interior
  • Road manners. Can a minivan be fun to drive? How about stimulating? We consider Quest the top-handling minivan on the market, or at least close to the best. Electro-hydraulic steering yields a direct, natural feel that’s seldom found in minivans. Nissan’s minivan even excels in taming body roll through curves and corners.
  • Ride comfort. A carefully-damped independent suspension gives the Quest a smoothly satisfying ride. Unlike Chrysler’s minivans, for instance, you’re not likely to feel abrupt, annoying reactions over long, bumpy stretches of pavement.
  • Gas mileage. Quest is among the most fuel-efficient minivans, with a fuel-economy estimate from the EPA of 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway, or 22 mpg in combined city/highway use.

Performance Cons

Finding flaws in Quest performance isn’t easy, so we have to resort to trouble spots that fall far short of earthshaking.

  • Reliance on virtual “gears.” Quest’s continuously variable transmission has a series of programmed shift points that make it feel like a traditional automatic. That’s good, isn’t it? Purists might say no, charging that “pretend” gears defeat the purpose of a belt-operated CVT.
  • Periodic CVT sluggishness. Critics of CVTs are bound to insist that even the Quest’s version suffers somewhat from the “rubber-band” effect, which keeps engine speed higher (thus noisier) than it would be with a conventional automatic transmission. Naturally, a Quest won’t always accelerate with supreme swiftness.

Interior Pros

  • Front-seat comfort. Despite short bottoms, front seats deliver plenty of comfort. Few will ever complain about a shortage of headroom. Back support is very good; thigh support, not quite so much.
  • Second-row space. Occupants of those two captain's chairs can savor a huge amount of headroom. Leg and toe space are bountiful, too, though seat cushions are quite short.
  • Visibility. All-around views are top-notch, with the exception of a little impairment when looking over your left shoulder.

Interior Cons

  • Seating configuration. In addition to providing seating for seven, rather than the customary eight-passenger setup, Quest’s seating arrangement isn’t nearly as versatile as the Grand Caravan’s, with its full-folding second-row seats. Quest also trails rivals in interior volume.
  • Sliding-door operation. Larger passengers might have trouble getting into the second row, simply because those doors don’t open wide enough.
  • Second-row entry. Seats aren't close to the door, so riders must take two steps to get there. That could be an issue for passengers with mobility problems.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Nissan Quest Side

Who’d have thought that energetic performance is a strong point in a minivan -- especially one with a CVT? Or that it’s closely followed by excellent handling talents. Even though a Quest is no lightweight, the 260-horsepower V6 never feels short on power, mates well with the CVT, and seems to be rarin’ to go

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Sadly, Nissan’s minivan hasn’t hit the contemporary mark in safety. The federal government hasn’t crash-tested the Quest in recent years, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a Good rating for front/side impact; Acceptable for roof crush; and Poor in the more stringent, small-overlap test, resulting in considerable intrusion into the driver’s space. Advanced-safety features are largely absent, too.

The Bottom Line

Quest is one of the best-handling minivans, though not necessarily top dog. (Honda’s Odyssey is the one to beat, and we won’t try to declare one or the other as the victor.). The Quest just feels like it almost belongs in a separate category: more sporty, more distinctive, more stimulating. Shortfalls in safety and interior space are hard to ignore, though.