The 2014 Nissan Quest reminds me of a cruise ship. Not because it’s big, although it really is. No, it reminds me of a cruise ship because I spent years telling myself I never wanted to vacation on a big boat. While all my friends raved about the buffets and the excursions, I convinced myself cruising just wasn’t for me. And then I tried one. Wow, was I wrong.
The Quest suckered me in the same way. I’ve spent years looking down at the mini-van crowd like they were a bunch of parental sell-outs. But it’s time to admit that mini-vans are more than just boxes on wheels. During my test week I had a long trip to California and back and the Quest did everything right. I liked the power and I liked the room. I liked the handling and I liked the seats. If this is selling out, then it’s time to re-think my standards.
Just for the record, there is nothing mini about a mini-van. Oh sure, when they started out they were smaller than full-sized vans. But they’ve evolved into domestic beasts. Consider this, the standard Chevy Van of the early 70s (yes, the one Sammy Johns sang about) was 178 inches long. If you got the long wheelbase version it was 202 inches long. The 2014 Quest is 200 inches long, only slightly shorter than the biggest version back in the heyday of vans.
Let’s start with performance. The Quest has a 3.5 liter DOHC 6 cylinder engine. It delivers 260 horsepower, but it actually felt like more. Perhaps it’s because of the way the continuously variable transmission delivered the power. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t blowing people away with my spectacular acceleration off the line, but I never felt underpowered. Mileage is decent, you’ll get 19 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway. That’s comparable with other mini vans. It uses unleaded fuel.
The interior is all about family functionality. The Quest has three rows of seats but only has room for seven people. For some people who will be a problem. Bigger families and coaches hauling kids will always want the maximum number of seats. Having said that, the seats are very comfortable. Nissan says it’s designed low fatigue seats that are good for the long haul. Having spent seven hours going one way, plus a return trip, I can say they achieved their goal.
The back seats are designed to easily flip down to create a large flat space. There is no need to pull seats out of the car. The downside to that is the Quest doesn’t have as much total cargo space. The Honda Odyssey maxes out at 148 cubic feet. The Quest has 108. Dual sliding doors on both sides makes life very easy.
The electronic center display is OK. It’s not the best I’ve tested, but it’s not the worst. Navigation system was OK. As always, not as good as Google on my phone. I did like the multiple cameras mounted around the car. You can look on the display and get a 360 degree view of potential obstacle. It almost looks like there is a camera mounted above the Quest looking down. If you have lots of kids in your neighborhood, the 360 view isn’t just nice, it could be a life saver. One minor thing I liked is the sun visor. Lately, I’ve driven a bunch of cars with tiny visors that don’t do the job. Living in Arizona I get lots of sun, and I spend plenty of time trying to dodge it. The Quest’s visor was big and effective. It also has 115 volt adapters built-in and lots of cup holders all around.
I’m impressed by something that I never got to try. Nissan proudly boasts about its Advanced Climate Control System with Plasmacluster air purifier. At the very least, the name is impressive. Supposedly it scrubs both outside and inside odors with a polyphenol microfilter. Next time I’ll have to borrow some stinky diapers to throw in the back.
If you want to knock the Quest, just go for the looks. Nissan claims the design was inspired by “super high-speed trains”. Trust me, the Quest is no bullet train. I’m not saying it’s any worse than other cars in its class, but attractive it’s not. Nissan designed the quest to take advantage of every square inch of its footprint. After that was done, the designers were given the task of cleaning it up.
The absolute base price for the Quest is $25,990. My test car was the top of the line LE with a sticker price $45,060.
So, like the cruise ship, the Quest was a pleasant surprise. Now if only it had a buffet and a work-out room.