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Heels on Wheels - 2012 Nissan Quest Review


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2012 Nissan Quest

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE NISSAN QUEST VEHICLE

Redesigned just last year – with raging success – the Quest is Nissan’s three-row, seven-passenger minivan featuring a boxy, wagon-like design notable for its full surround glass exterior windows. The interior is functional and refined with loads of technology, turning this family-based ride into a sophisticated and modern traveling vessel.

I drove a 2012 Nissan Quest with the standard 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with 240 pound-feet of torque and the Continuously Variable Transmission. Available in four trims – the base S, SV, SL and LE – my fully loaded LE trim came with the following standard equipment: eight-way power driver’s seat and four-way passenger; heated front seats; leather seats; wood tone trim accents; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; push-button start; one-touch power sliding doors; remote power liftgate; a thirteen-speaker Bose audio system with XM Radio and a USB interface; Bluetooth; navigation system; second-row captain’s chairs; second-row DVD entertainment system; second- and third-row sunshades; rear storage well with split lid; fog lights; eighteen-inch wheels; roof rails; and rear spoiler. Total vehicle price came to $41,350.

Main competitors to the Quest are minivans also offering an upscale trim, found on the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Town & Country. The Ford Flex and Buick Enclave are also refined and interesting family choices. In case you are curious about the upcoming 2013 model, it sees a refreshed exterior and what Nissan calls “Innovation for Family” design features that mostly make the plush LE even more desirable, like the addition of a standard Around View Monitor and third-row power-return seatback.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Nissan has crafted a comfortable and well-appointed carriage with the Quest interior, using high-quality light beige leather upholstery and contrasting dark wood grain trim. The power sliding rear doors – controlled through the key fob, one-touch door button or cabin commands – are an upgrade must. The only design gaffe is the automatic gear shifter located left to the center stack that obstructs the view of the climate control screen. Although the Quest has the advantage of a clever rear storage well with split lid, it impedes from the third row dropping into the floor – this equates to a taller floor and losing about 40 cubic square feet of cargo space over competitors. Second-row captain’s chairs fold flat, yet the overhead climate dials are too high for a child to reach. Although comfortable than most, the third row would be a tight squeeze for three with its limited legroom; note it does feature plenty of vents, cup holders and shade screens.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2012 Quest earned top ratings of “Good” in frontal offset and side-impact crash testing, but an “Acceptable” in rollover with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The vehicle model year is not rated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include an advanced airbag system, 3-point seat belts, LATCH, child safety rear door locks, anti-lock brakes, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution.

Cost Issues: The base S trim starts at $25,990. The base 2012 Honda Odyssey LX starts at $28,375. A base Toyota Sienna is $25,060. A Ford Flex base SE is $29,465.

Activity & Performance Ability: Performance highlights include excellent visibility, firm seating, stern handling and an acceleration response that neither lumbers nor hesitates. The taut suspension keeps the chassis firmly planted that doesn’t stiffen up at tight corners. All in all, the Quest delivers quick and even power and is flexible at the wheel with a generous turning radius sure to make moms feel their daily driver delivers an extra punch.

The Green Concern: The 3.5-liter V6 engine has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 miles-per-gallon city and 24 highway for a combined 21. A same-sized engine with just a 2-horsepower gain gets 17-city and 24-highway for a drop to 19. The Toyota Sienna’s 187-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder (great for those flatlanders) isn’t all that impressive at 19-city and 24-highway for 21 combined.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2012 Nissan Quest is a highly crafted, quick-acting three-row minivan able to accommodate seven well. This modern wagon might lack some cubic square feet over a couple competitors, but the fully loaded LE trim with all its accompanying conveniences make up for it.

©2012 Katrina Ramser