A Minivan-Shaped SUV Minus The Ground Clearance The last-gen Nissan Quest minivan was an oddball. It had good power, handled quite well, and was unconventional-looking. The thing is, unconventional isn't necessarily the best thing for a vehicle as mainstream as a minivan. Nissan pulled the plug on the funky-looking Quest after the 2009 model year, promising to return after skipping 2010. So here we are with the new 2011 Nissan Quest, which is essentially a less dramatic-looking Nissan Elgrand (as it's known in Japan). It arrives in a minivan segment that's as competitive as ever and stacked with new products. The excellent 2011 Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna lead the class. Chrysler punted the gimmicky in-car card tables, banished the trashy interiors, and released the greatly improved Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. We grabbed the keys to a new Quest to see whether it really hangs with the A-listers. Before getting its visa to head Stateside, Nissan tweaked the Quest's looks for American consumption. Instead of the Elgrand's chromed-out, Silver Samurai face and full-width taillamp strip, the Quest gets a pointier, more subdued nose and taillamps shaped like flower petals. If the Elgrand's looks are suited to Japanese dads, then its Questification seems geared toward American moms. The rest of it? As you've probably surmised from the photo gallery, it's big. A fast windshield angle and some well-placed creases in the bodywork work to downplay the visual bulk a little. Overall, the look is more aesthetically pleasing than the kaleidoscopic sheetmetal of the Honda Odyssey or the generic wrapper Chrysler's breadboxes are stuck with until their next full redesign. The Toyota Sienna is arguably the best-looking van, but we'd slot the Nissan into the #2 position. Our actual tester was a fully-loaded Quest LE, while the one you see in these photos is a very well-equipped SL that we shot on the sunny California coast. The only noteworthy differences between the two are power third-row seat release and return buttons on the LE (in addition to the manual release straps), and the optional dual sunroof setup the LE was equipped with. The latter is a cool feature with two full-sized roofs that open independently of each other and are spaced so that the flip-down, 11-inch DVD screen occupies the real estate separating them. Power sliders and a low step-in height make climbing in and out of the Quest easy, regardless of passenger age. Inside, there's (ideally) room for seven: two captain's chairs up front, two more in the second row, and a 60/40 split third row. While there are three headrests and seat belts in the way back, stuffing three adults back there may not so comfortable, especially for the one stuck in the middle. Kids, though? Mine preferred to clamber back there, given the choice. And there are enough cup/bottle-holders to accommodate more than double the Quest's seating capacity. Plan your road trip's restroom stops accordingly. Overall, the interior presentation is slick. The instrument panel design, …
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|MPG||19 City / 24 Hwy|
|Transmission||Xtronic 2-spd CVT w/OD|
|Power||260 @ 6000 rpm|
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