By on July 26, 2012

 

Minivans are indeed fewer in number.

Supposedly they should to able to hold six or seven.

But the truth is the buyers of these vehicles rarely have room for three these days.

See, I have dealt with hundreds of minivan buyers over the years as a small town car dealer and a writer here at TTAC. Nearly everyone I deal with considers no more than three minivans. To be frank, the majority won’t even consider two which is why Chrysler, Toyota and Honda minivans now control more than 88% of the North American minivan market.

What chance does the Nissan Quest have? Even after 20 years in the public eye?

Jacque Hedonist: Minivan designs have always struck me as different forms of breadboxes. Honda Odysseys and Mazda 5′s have nice little waves in their side profiles. While the Chrysler minivans and Kia Sedonas are the traditional upright breadboxes.

The Quest is a combination of the two. The front fascia is upright and traditional with plenty of chrome staring right back at you as you get ready for parenting duties. However the entire side is one curvaceous swoop with a flattish roof that seems to compress and slim down the portly proportions of a minivan.

Stefan Frugalist:  Looks always take a back seat to function when it comes to minivans. A seven passenger people mover like the Quest is no exception. However today’s minivan buyers will be in for a pleasant surprise if they decide to ever consider a top of the line LE model.

 

The inside is just plain opulent.

The leather seats are thick and supremely comfortable in all three rows. The materials used are top notch; especially compared to the cost contained plastics that are widely used by the competition.  If you are willing to look beyond the names, you’ll find that the Quest in LE trim offers the most comfortable interior in the entire segment.

Hedonist: The luxury focus continues with dashboard features that seem to come straight out of a fully loaded Infiniti. You name the convenience, it’s there for your enjoyment. A Bose 13 speaker stereo system with exceptional sound quality. An 11 inch big screen for the second and third rows with headphones that offer the blissful quiet that rarely will come with rambunctious tikes. Dual sunroofs. Push button conveniences for nearly everything that needs to be folded or closed.  Even the 8 inch front screen offers front seat video pleasures when the vehicle is parked.

The Nissan Quest LE provides all of the comfort, safety and entertainment of a high end SUV, like an Infiniti QX56, for nearly half the price.

Minivan sales may have flagged over the last twelve years. But the value quotient is still as strong as ever if you compare them to similar sized SUV’s.

Frugalist: That value quotient to me depends entirely on the market segments you’re willing to consider. If you want space, plenty of power (260 hp. and 240 lb. of torque), smooth shifts with the CVT, and pure luxury for the family, then the Nissan Quest may be a good buy.

That is if all that mass is required for your commuting and travels.

But let us throw two nasty monkey wrenches into that equation.

Hedonist: The first is need. No, the two of us are not pondering the usual need vs. want equation. This Quest is far more competitive than most consumers will ever realize.

The issue I see is priorities. If you have three kids or fewer, a Toyota Prius V may represent a better alternative. The Quest only averaged 21 mpg with a fuel economy rating of 18 city and 24 highway.

The Prius V, rated at 44 city and 40 highway, averaged 49 mpg for us in mostly city driving. It essentially doubled the Quest in fuel economy while offering a surprisingly large seating space for three in the middle and plenty of room in the back. I showed both of the models to all of my wife’s friends. Even the ones who have already purchased minivans (who were the majority), said they would have opted for the Prius V had it been available at the time.

Frugalist: We don’t necessarily think that hybrid wagons will do to minivans, what minivans did to the Prius V’s large and bulbous ancestors. But SUV’s and CUV’s have already taken a huge chunk out of the minivan market over the past decade.

There may be a minor period of market adjustment. Still, we can easily see many potential buyers of minivans who have memories of being shepherded around in vans and larger SUV’s, moving even further into the world of hybrids and wagons as the ‘family vehicle’; especially if buyers can save $10,000 in the purchase price and another $10,000 in operating costs.

Hedonist: The second issue for us is the purchase price. At $43,000, a loaded LE model represents a heavy duty debt load. This is also true for the higher end models of the competition, and Nissan is offering substantial rebates, incentives and financing at this point.  As we mentioned before, if you’re looking for a minivan, and especially if you haul six or seven people, the Quest is definitely worth your consideration.

However, the overall value equation of a minivan is simply not there anymore if you have three or fewer kids and don’t haul huge masses of items on a frequent basis. Wagons, lower end CUV’s and compact SUV’s can all be had, well equipped, at $35,000 or less.

Frugalist: There is a reason why vehicles like the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V are outselling all their minivan brethren. If you add all the models mentioned and couple the Equinox with its GMC Terrain sibling, you’ll find that not even the once 500,000+ strong Chrysler minivans can match the modern day sales numbers of any of these models.

As for the 2012 Nissan Quest, it has less than half the sales in the first six months of this year than the Prius V.

The Quest remains at or near the top of its class if you are looking at a minivan as a pure luxury vehicle.

The question is, “What will the consumer be looking for?” The times they are a-changin’ folks.

Note: Nissan provided gas, insurance and a full week of driving time. 

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89 Comments on “Hedonist vs Frugalist: 2012 Nissan Quest LE...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Saw a new one of these last week and gosh that Nissan van is ugly. Granted all of the current major minivans look a bit off, but this one takes the cake.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      It doesn’t look ugly. It looks luxury minivan. Problem is the Americans don’t have the concept of a luxury minivan.

      ps Should have been an Infiniti

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I don’t care much for the dash interior as I think its too busy, but the front (and rear) of the new Quests I’ve seen is just yuck. People often mock me for my loved of squared off 80s cars and how I need to embrace the 21st century etc. Yet those same people would embrace the lines of this beached whale as being sexy or sophisticated when its just as square and unattractive as an ’82 Ford Fairmont. To each his own.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        I guess 28-Cars-Later just isn’t sophisticated to appreciate a luxury mini-van. Probably live in flyover country, and those folks don’t count.

        28-Cars-Later, I agree, it is a piece.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Number one reason to buy a luxury car is status. Nobody’s impressed by a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        sching

        The perception of minivans/MPVs is really region-specific.

        While in North America, you all talk about the “minivan stigma” and the “well, you might as well neuter me now ’cause I’ve begotten my 2.5 kids and bought the minivan”, in Asia the minivan is considered a legitimate limousine alternative.

        This is why pop stars and CEOs are shuttled around in the things here, and it’s also why the JDM has so many models like the Nissan Elgrand, on which this Quest appears to be based.

        Even in Europe, MPVs are still quite popular, and even segment into “small” and “large” MPVs.

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        It’s too bad that they didn’t use the Elgrand fascia and aero. that one looks like a cool van. no wonder people in asia have a different view of minivans. This NA nissan is not at all sleek or badass the was a VIP Elgrand is.

  • avatar
    dima

    I rejected last model Nissan Minivan purchase purely on their commercial slogan( MOM HAVE CHANGE ), well, I’m a man and a father. Other minivan makers offeres where just as good. My wife does not drives minivan, she preferes our GS350. So this Father spend his money on other barand.

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      My daughter’s family (2 kids – small) bought the Nissan. They like theirs.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      You didn’t buy a car because you didn’t like the commercial slogan?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Ubermensch: “You didn’t buy a car because you didn’t like the commercial slogan?”

        Absolutely! Advertising can turn people off even more effectively than it can turn people on.

        For instance, I won’t buy Dodges, BMWs, or Mercedes. Not because I think they’re bad cars, but because I don’t want to associate myself with the branding. Take, for instance, Dodge’s aggressive advertising gun and fighting themed names (Magnum, Caliber, Dart, Charger, Avenger) and crosshair-grills. It’s not for me. I won’t own a Dodge, even though my problems with their vehicles are only skin deep. I’ll happily swap my used Escape for a used 2005 T&C, though, when I need the extra space.

        This is one of the reasons I’ve advocated the following brand-strategy for Chrysler:
        1. Dodge: muscle cars, sports cars, aggressive vehicles like the Magnum. “Dodge this, m%$(*er-f(cker!”
        2. Plymouth: Revive it to make practical family cars. The Journey and the Caravan belong here. A blandified Dart might work here, too.
        3. Chrysler: Imported from Detroit

        In the case of BMW and Mercedes, I’ve just found the owners of these vehicles to have a reckless and arrogant disregard for my safety. Also, there are a lot of people who buy them who haven’t (in my opinion) paid their dues on their way to success. I don’t want to be associated with either of these things. I’ve recently shifted to a pay-grade where buying one of these cars would be obligatory in some circles, but I won’t be seen in one. And I don’t have any problem with the car. Also, nobody at my office (also in the same demographic, for the most part) owns a Luxury-for-you-to-look-at car. The vehicles are modest-but-nice, because modesty and practicality are valued and respected by these folks. Kinda like our whole town, really.

        P.S. I can’t think of a car that I would buy because of the branding. It takes a lot more than that to sell me a car — good numbers, suitability for purpose, solving a problem I actually have, and so on.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Luke42-

        I don’t really understand the idea behind not buying a Dodge and their “aggressive advertising”. Better a car named Charger, Caliber, etc. than Camry, Altima, Yaris, etc. Yaris? They couldnt come up with something better than that? Of course, as a former Charger owner, and present Challenger owner, it makes sense I wouldn’t hate the names and looks of Chrysler’s cars. But car ads in general have never done much for me, good or bad. The ones that are funny were ok, but most of them are totally forgettable. Of all the car companies’ ads over the years, Honda has probably annoyed me the most. Some are smug, some just dull and boring, like their cars. I really hated Mr. Opportunity for some reason, he just annoyed me more than most other Honda ads. I never understood the appeal of most of the FWD cars, the Japanese ones in particular. “What a feeling- Toyota”? The feeling has mostly been boredom. If I would have a grudge against a car company, blaming it for the idiots driving their cars, it would have to be Nissan, as the Altima seems to be the car of choice for behind the wheel Bozos around here. If it’s not a teenager playing with their phone, it’s a 40 something driving in a semi-comatose manner. And I couldn’t care less if someone “hasn’t paid their dues” or not, if they can make the payments, let them drive a Benz or a BMW. Better than having to be seen in a Yaris, or some other little boring egg of a car.

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        replace Plymouth with Fiat and I think you’ve got it

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s a nice van, but it lacks something in interior packaging versus the Sienna, Oddy and Caravan. Especially behind the third row.

    The comparison with the Prius V and compact crossovers is odd: those are all two-row cars, this is a three-row. I’d accept the Traversacadianclave, Highlander, Flexplorer or Pilot, but the compacts don’t make sense.

    That said, I’d like to see a hybrid three-row that isn’t the Highlander. A Prius V would be nice, but something with sliding doors would be better.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      There’s nothing that stands out about the Quest in a good way, it lacks the split rear seat that folds into the floor that its competitors have. (The prior Quest did have thin fold-flat 2nd row seats, which were overshadowed by Stow-N-Go’s the following year.) The Quest’s compromises for the US market were well described in Karesh’s review, whereas the Ody & Sienna were designed for the US market, and also have 8 passenger configurations.

      Fitzmall is selling Quest SV’s for just under $27K, not far off what they’re charging for a Sienna LE V6.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        “That said, I’d like to see a hybrid three-row that isn’t the Highlander. A Prius V would be nice, but something with sliding doors would be better.”

        Estima Hybrid, then?

        I don’t understand why Toyota hasn’t offered this in the US. They would have owned the minivan market for the last ten years!

        Instead, they offered the newest Sienna with a rather weak 4-cyl, which they are dropping for the forthcoming model year. Unsurprising.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I think Toyota realizes that minivan people are, well, cheap. There’s a limit to what you can charge for a Sienna, even a hyrbid. By comparison, you can charge a lot more for a Highlander (same bones, higher MSRP) or RX (much, much higher MSRP). The domestics know this, too, which is why there’s a dearth of cheap people movers from them.

        If fuel prices were low and/or if the Tundra sold more volume, I suspect you’d see more Sequoias and the Sienna summarily axed.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        I don’t see that minivan people are cheap. They have a high regard for practicality and a total disregard for whatever anybody else thinks is “in style.”

        If you offer them a “good” minivan, they’ll consider it. However, they do not necessarily value leather and other fru-fru items as providing the value that makes for a “good” minivan.

        Howver, I’ll bet most buyers would agree that good fuel economy improves the value of a minivan.

        GM was both right and entirely wrong about improving the fuel economy of the Tahoe. They were right in that improving the fuel economy of the Tahoe, which is pretty bad, could mean saving a heckuva lot of fuel. However, they completely missed the fact that people who care about fuel economy… don’t buy Tahoes. And they certainly weren’t going to pony up an extra $13K to get a Tahoe with better fuel economy when they could simply buy a Traverse instead.

        But minivan buyers are of a different mentality; they are going for capability without image. They probably don’t particularly want to buy a vehicle that’s minivan-sized but need the capacity and aren’t terribly excited about minivan-sized fuel economy. They might buy up-trimmed minivans just to have a vehicle that’s nice but it’s sort of a consolation prize for getting a minivan.

        A competitive hybrid system, such as HSD, might be very well received.

        If I were running Toyota, I’d give it a shot.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        http://toyota.jp/estimahybrid/

        The Estima Hybrid is a tiny bit taller, shorter, and narrower than the 1st gen Sienna, about 10 inches longer than a Mazda5. It does have eAWD like the Highlander Hybrid, and slick styling that would fit well in an extended Prius lineup. Fuel economy would be impressive, somewhere in between the hybrids Camry (2.5L, EPA 40mpg) and Highlander (3.5L, EPA 28mpg).

        If Toyota plans to have an upcoming 3rd gen EH coming stateside, how much would it cost? I’m afraid it would be a bit higher than the Prius v and uncomfortably close to the Highlander Hybrid. It doesn’t help that EH doesn’t have a LHD variant, and the exhaust heat recovery system may not be deletable for cost savings.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Minivan people are cheap? Are you kidding?? Have you priced a Sienna LE V6, Odyssey EX, or Town & Country Limited recently? I would absolutely say minivan buyers are second only to BOF SUV buyers in their ability to overspend on optional extras and ignore sticker shock, when you factor out luxury nameplates.

        Minivans (Dodge/Chrysler and Ford-branded, no less!) crossed into the mid-$30k’s around 2000. This was when “premium” crossover buyers were cross-shopping $34k Mercedes ML320s with $32k Lexus RX300s.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      You are so right. I doubt many who can afford a 30K ride are cross shopping a Prius V and a minivan. In teh under 10K market, maybe mini vans and compact wagons get cross shopped, I dont know.

      3 kids in a Prius V sounds miserable, if it could even work. I know a GL450 cant fit 3 boosters/car seats across one row, i doubt the prius V can.

      . . . cue the self righteous posts about:

      taking 3 kids from Ohio to Texas in a Honda Civic and finding it positively peachy

      a childhood spent riding on a spare tire in the cargo area of a ford galaxy wagon

      Europeans making do with 100hp wagons based on a ford escort

    • 0 avatar
      Patwg

      Agreed with you! I was very interested Prius V but not after see the small overlap crash test result – “poor”. 44 mpg or people’s life? Which one is important?! I would rather with bigger minivan to protect my kids instead of save gas.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Just going by the photo it’s a beauty! Best looking minivan ever! Makes the Caravan look like a toaster on wheels.

  • avatar
    Marko

    In black, it looks like a hearse. Does Nissan market it to the funeral industry?

    In other colors, I actually don’t mind it…

  • avatar
    slance66

    Friends with two kids, who go on many long trips, bought a loaded Sienna 1.5 years ago. It is massive. It gets horrible mileage. It is hard to park. It was very expensive. There is nothing “mini” about the entries in this category. This one looks nice, if you must have one. But there are options between the Prius V (which will get you killed merging onto the highway here in metro Boston) and this monstrosity. CUVs can get better mileage, have winter weather traction, and serve as modern day wagons in most respects.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “CUVs can get better mileage, have winter weather traction, and serve as modern day wagons in most respects”

      The two-row models, yes. Not the three-row CUVs: they all get same or worse mileage, have less interior space despite the same dimensions, and are about as bad if not worse to drive because of their larger wheels and worse sightlines.

      A better choice might be something like the Rondo, 5, Orlando or C-Max. There’s also three-row versions of the RAV/4 and Mitsubishi what’s-it’s-name, but the last row in those is vestigal.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      there are 4WD minvans (sienna)

      3 row crossovers dont get better mileage

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Can’t a van like this be had for substantially less money if you forego add ins like the video players (most kids in this demographic use iPads these days anyway), Nav, or even Leather? Comparing a $43k luxury van to an Equinox doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Personally, we have a Mazda5 to go along with our two kids. In our case, the third row isn’t used often but it sure is handy to have on many occasions. We average about 25 mpg in mostly around town use. Not bad, but a hybrid model with this 3-row packaging would be great.

    I did rent a “full size” minivan last month for a longer trip. We also had five people, luggage and a wheelchair, so the Chrysler T&C was easier to live with. The 5 would have done it but it would have been a tight fit of the wheelchair.

    This brings up another minivan benefit over an SUV. Ease of entry and exit for kids (sliding doors) and people with physical handicaps (seats located at an accessible height). There is no way my wife could climb up to the seat on most SUVs but the Mazda5 is perfect. The Chrysler was even a bit of a stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Can’t a van like this be had for substantially less money if you forego add ins like the video players (most kids in this demographic use iPads these days anyway), Nav, or even Leather?”

      Yes, the Caravan can be had for under CAD$20K new. I’d opt for the DVD player, upon reflection, and things like cruise and power mirrors are nice to have, so the real price is usually somewhere around $25-29K.

      But yes, the luxovans are pushing sanity limits. Mind you, price an MDX, GL or X5…

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        The top of the line honda/toyota/nissan minivans are all in the 40,000s. This is why we got a loaded 2011 Caravan with 18k on it for 20k. My wife loves it, an I got a 2012 Fiat convertible for commuting and for when it is just us and the 2 kids and no gear. And we still spent less than 40k for both

      • 0 avatar
        fli317

        We bought an off lease Yukon XL without the DVD player and were a bit concerned over that fact. Bought a plug in $100 DVD player that worked well enough, but between taking it up and down and the inconvenience of this unit, kids actually watched much less movies. I’m happy with this fact. I wouldn’t buy this option. Its too easy for them to watch. They’d watch more in the car than they do at home.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed. We got a one-year-old 09 Sedona for $17k with mid-range equipment. It’s an excellent vehicle for a great price. I’m looking forward to see what Kia does with the upcoming redesign.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Oddly enough my grandma can get in and out of my Escape better than she can grandpa’s Buick. Go figure; I think it depends on the person and their ailments.

  • avatar
    Topher

    I understand the desire to buy a vehicle that will serve every single potential need (even if some are extremely unlikely), but at a certain point you need to evaluate what you’re trading to achieve this one-vehicle-does-everything approach.

    Otherwise, everyone would own F350 supercabs with three rows (if Ford were ever to make it). Who knows, maybe you’ll have to tow your house in the future. Better make it an F750.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Otherwise, everyone would own F350 supercabs with three rows”

      I believe that was the Excursion. I think, even for America, it was over-the-top

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        The Excursion was a great vehicle, but Bill Ford’s environmentalist buddies were looking down on him, and it was being branded the “Ford Valdez” by the Sierra Club, despite GM having long offered a 3/4 ton Suburban.

        I think the “official” excuse was that Ford needed line capacity for the regular SuperDuty pickup and chassis cab models, which sold (and sell) like hotcakes.

        Coming at the zenith of the SUV boom, it must’ve been the same visceral reaction as seeing the H2 Hummer, but I would argue that the buyers for the Excursion and the H2 didn’t overlap as evenly as some would like to think.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “I would argue that the buyers for the Excursion and the H2 didn’t overlap as evenly as some would like to think.”

        Really, because I see stretched-limo versions of both with equal frequency.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        As have I, but the speciality livery applications are another matter.

  • avatar
    micvog

    As a recent minivan buyer (Chrysler T&C), I wasn’t looking for luxury digs that my kids would destroy anyway. I was looking for utility (3rd row fold down seats please) and sliding doors (try getting kids in out of a 3rd row SUV in your 2-car garage with 2 cars).

    I didn’t mind Nissan’s exterior styling (I even preferred it to the “lightning bolt” design of the Honda), but I didn’t care for the leather piping on the seats. But that it is a nitpick. At the end of the day I was looking for value and leather (for cleanability).

    FWIW, there was (is?) a lot of “money on the hood” for the Nissan ($28K with leather) which puts it between the value twins of Chrysler/Kia ($25K w/leather) and the premium minivans of Honda/Toyota ($32K).

    • 0 avatar
      Topher

      Why have sliding doors been pigeon-holed as minivan accessories? Wagons might benefit from them… SUVs would too, but that would be hilariously “regressive”.

      • 0 avatar
        jeoff

        Topher: Most “SUVs” ARE mini-vans –for folks in denial about their automotive needs. GM got laughed at, but pretty much had it right when they grafted SUV-ish front ends on their mini-vans. Really, Honda Pilot? Toyota Highlander? Ford Explorer? –mini-vans without sliding doors.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed, minivans for people deluded into thinking they weren’t to avoid the stigma a van brings. Although first gen Explorer was a ‘real truck’ sharing its chassis with Ranger and Aerostar, current Ford offerings are all station wagons/minivans in different outfits.

      • 0 avatar
        Topher

        Hence the “regressive”. It would expose the true nature of many SUVs and CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        I do not understand the fear of the minivan. I work in the music business in LA and our garage has 3 levels. On the occasions that I drive the van instead of the Fiat I am the only minivan out of 500 or so cars. Plenty of SUVs and a few wagons (very few) Used to park my 65 Dart wagon down there, boy the evil looks I used to get..

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    A few years ago a customer had a new Nissan Quest with a high trim level. It had cream colored Ultrasuede arm rests. If anyone needs this folly explained to them, then they probably work for Nissan.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    A JDM transplant lost in translation…
    Too narrow, tippy, with JDM-suitable short wheelbase.
    And boy it’s ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      They enlarged the platform specifically for the US, versus the JDM Elgrand. The styling is still a little JDM-odd, though. And as some have mentioned, the interior packaging that qualifies as anything but cutting edge (third row seats that fold on top of the floor or are removable, rather than fold flat into a well, are very circa-1996) is a major giveback to the non-dedicated platform.

      The Japanese makes all have crazy luxury vans afoot in Japan, far less practical but more over the top compared with the mom-mobile minivans in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        76triumph

        Don’t confuse the the 3rd row in the Quest with the 3rd row in a 96 Caravan. Even though it doesn’t fold backward into the well, but it folds flat with the load surface. Also it isn’t a removable bench…it is a super comfy “real” row of seating…much more comfortable than our 2005 Ody.

  • avatar
    Jeff Lydell

    Putting three kids into the back seat of a Prius V wouldn’t make sense these days, considering the amount of child seat equipment you need to strap in. Once they outgrow the safety seats/booster seats it might work.

    I ended up in a Grand Caravan because two rear facing car seats combined with my height (6’4″) couldn’t comfortably fit in anything else in the price range. The larger styled CUV’s (Venza, Edge) mostly fit, but the price was much higher. Mazda 5′s and RAV-4 styled CUV’s were too small for me.

    The Quest’s pricing is off-putting, as are the looks. If money was less of an issue, I’d be looking at the T&C or the Sienna, since they are more attractive than the Quest IMO.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    I think that in its last two iterations Nissan has been over-thinking the whole mini-van thing. Mini-vans are meant to be practical above all else. The previous generation was swoopy (making it hard to back-out), had centrally located instrumentation (speedometer not in front of the driver…realy.), and a center stack (pedestal) that felt (and wore) like it was made out of cardboard. The new Quest has less usable space than any of the others. Thing is, the engine and trans are at least as good as the others–they should just maximize the space–use quality materials, and don’t get too cute–it’s not that hard.

  • avatar
    don1967

    One thing missing from this discussion is towing. We can quibble over transmission durability, but the fact remains that most of these breadboxes can tow 3500 pounds which is beyond the capacity of any sedan, wagon or compact CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Topher

      VW Touareg TDI tow rating: 7,700 lbs
      Fuel Consumption:
      City mpg 19
      Highway mpg 28
      Combined mpg 22

      If you want to tow often, get the right tool. Otherwise, rent the right tool when you need it. I drive a small car, but when I need a pickup, I rent it per day. Overall, this approach costs me way less than owning a behemoth that ALWAYS gets bad mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        jeoff

        Paying for deisel pretty much cancels out any MPG advantage in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        The Toureg won’t hold 7 people, and it’s hyper expensive. I’ve towed about 1800 lbs with my Sedona, with 7 people inside.

        A friend with an equally-large family bought a Suburban to tow 9000 lbs. But it gets about 10 mpg, even without towing.

        But you’re right about renting periodically, vs buying a vehicle for the exceptional use.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Funny, my 3-series can tow about that much (1800Kg with a braked trailer and factory hitch). I could care less what BMWUSAs lawyers say, BMW designed it to do it, it can do it.

  • avatar
    4LiterLexus

    I test drove a base model ($24k) Quest last month, and I was pleasantly surprised by how high-quality the dash felt. Damped buttons, soft touch materials…it was sort of like an Infiniti. The Sienna and Caravan feel a class below in terms of fit and finish, perhaps because they were designed for the US market from the get-go. The slab-sided styling of the Quest also makes for a wide load door, which definitely helps when moving furniture.

    The loaded model in this review isn’t as good of a value: aside from the alloy wheels and fog lights, there are few visual distinctions between the LE and base. A decent smartphone navigation app and some iPads to distract/mollify younger passengers would make the base Quest almost as family-ready as the top-spec version.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      ^ This. All of this.

      My wife is not a minivan person, but we’ve had the chance to sit in a few of the various minivans lately. The Quest got high marks from her for its interior comfort and because it feels like a luxury car, while the others felt less luxurious by far. We’d own a base Quest if we had three kids. But we have only one kid, so we rock a Cube, which also tends to feel a bit “upmarket” from others in the segment. I think it’s got a lot to do with the Cube’s and the Quest’s JDM roots. They’re two models still made in Japan, while most others in Nissan’s (and their competitors’) lineup are manufactured domestically.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    I used to think that the luxury market was ripe for an MPV. Just how much effort would it take to convert a JDM Alphard into a Lexus? And the Mercedes R-Class was a non-starter due to it’s conventional hinge doors.

    Now that I’ve seen Tesla’s Model X, that will be the future of the luxury MPV: all the benefits of a 7 seat crossover, with gull wing doors to overcome their one major limitation, and to one-up the Joneses in style.

  • avatar
    76triumph

    I bought just this vehicle back in February and have about 7500k on it with one cross country trip so far. It replaced an 05 Odyssey. We were picking between the latest Ody or Sienna and drove the Quest just out of thoroughness – it was our favorite.

    We actually like the fact that the third row doesn’t fold into the well. There are two advantages: (1) normal everyday loading is level, rather than down in the well, which makes it easier to get things in and out; (2) I don’t have to empty the well to fold the seats down. Another plus is that there is storage under the flat space behind seats…sort of like a mini-trunk. Great place for laptop bags or valuables. It also helps split and level the load while packing it full.

    FWIW we have three kids and drive cross country once or twice a year. We picked the Quest because the interior was quiet and comfortable with much better materials than either the Ody or the Sienna. Biggest complaint – mileage sucks for short city trips.

  • avatar
    Joss

    The Quest stymied its own reputation and is yet another Nissan destined to labor in the shadow of Honda & Toyota. A co-worker had a 2nd gen Mercury Villager era Quest. It was new – nothing but trouble. The 3rd gen Quest had many issues mostly with the power doors and water leaks around the moonroof. A team of engineers had to help remedy the problems while sales suffered.

    This 4th gen Quest is built in Japan. You can’t tow with CVT. Attaching a tow bar will void the warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Patwg

      Also if you sit in the driver seat you will find out the view through windshield are not as big as Sienna or Odyssey. This is not good for safety. The extra big (compared to other van) frame support between windshield and front door also may block driver’s view sometime.

  • avatar
    dmchyla

    Quest vs. Prius V? Seriously? No matter how roomy, my 13, 10, and 7 year old kids would not work in the back seat. Now go on a trip and see how big the cargo hold is. If you have more than 2 kids, something larger is in order. I could see it working with 1 or 2 kids, though.

    I went down to a Ford Freestyle instead of a minivan last time around, to try and get a little better mileage, and my wife did not want another minivan. Now I wish I had stuck with a minivan.

    And, by the way, a loaded Caravan R/T goes for about $32K list. I understand that the interior is not as nice, but I believe it’s a better value.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      I had the same assumption before having one for a week.

      It can easily seat three across in a comfortable fashion. The floor is flat. The seats are well positioned and the rear seat room is even larger than my wife’s Malibu Maxx.

      Try it. Or do the math and see if a base Quest would be a better fit.

      • 0 avatar
        dmchyla

        While I believe you, and I believe that this would work for day-to-day running about, when we are going places on weekends, it is a big convenience to have the newly-minted teenager in his own row. It’s difficult enough to keep the other 2 from fighting with a console in between them. My kids are older now, but putting mandated booster seats in the mix complicates things even more. When 2 were in booster seats, they would barely fit in the back seat of my in-law’s Taurus. They did fit ok in the Yukon (not XL) that my parents had at that time. I will try it in a Prius V next time I see one at an auto show, but it would take quite a bit to shake my belief that 3 kids = a 3 row vehicle.

        Besides, one of my wife’s requirements is that her parents need to be able to come with us when needed, so 7 passenger is minimum for her. I will probably wind up with a Caravan for her, Cruze Eco for me.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      ” No matter how roomy, my 13, 10, and 7 year old kids would not work in the back seat.”

      Why?

      • 0 avatar
        dmchyla

        Do you have 3 kids?

        While my kids are pretty well behaved, they are all very different personalities. Like I said, for short trips, it would probably be fine, but for longer trips we would constantly be defusing some kind of conflict. It would be less distracting to text my friends while choosing a Pandora station and reading the TTAC RSS feed.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        4 kids.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      I’ve got 3 and a V (or more correctly, my wife has a V!). Plenty of room. Some fighting, but it is really wide inside and the sliding rear seats means the smallest can’t kick the front seat. Wider than an Audi A6 or BMW 5 inside. You don’t know heaven until you’ve done a long trip where your son can’t kick the back of your seat in random, unsyncopated rythms. I thought I would have to by a Thule, but made it fine without. Astonishing amount of room for luggage. Utterly utilitarian to drive though. I could see a 17 year old being pretty miserable in it though. What i can’t see is what kind of car a 17 year old actually wants to be in for a 4 day drive across the country with his family.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Kids in that age group are ironically, the easy scenario (not that anything about 3 kids in the back of a small car is fun). Now put one in a car seat, or 2 since you have to keep them in one until Junior High nowadays it seems and let me know how that works. Yes, the family can squeeze into anything for a day (I had my 2 kids in my Miata once), but for every day? If I were planning on putting 3 kids in one bench seat I’d be looking at a fullsize car. Viva La Panther!

      • 0 avatar
        Type57SC

        I actually did look at the Crown Vic because it was one of the few wide cars left, but the V is damn wide. We’ve had it since November and it has amazed we with its space. Wife uses it every day carting them around, and works with a car seat and two pseudo-booster seats just fine. no squeezing in required. It’s just very spaceous. the back seat seat-back (not a typo) reclines, which helps it mate up to the awkward bend in the car seat. That + the sliding rear seat means miles of leg room for them (or back-pack room as the case may be). Would make a really good cab actually.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Quest was one of the nicest vehicles I sat in at the 2012 Pittsburgh Auto Show – very impressive, in spite of its ungainly appearance.

    Its boxy shape reminds me of my xB1, providing lots of interior room for me and my tall family members.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A used Oldsmobile silhouette; it’s the Cadillac of mini vans

  • avatar
    mannerlymoron

    why didn’t they just jack up the ride height on this, attach some fender flares, toss on a couple of infiniti badges, and make this the new QX56

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    At least in the Northeast, any discussion of loaded minivans as family vehicle is largely moot. Actual mommies refuse to be seen in them. They want luxury SUVs if they have $40K+ to spend on a sprog hauler. Of the several families I know who DO own minivans at all, it is Dad’s car, and it is a low-mid trim level Caravan bought on the cheap.

    The luxo minivans are owned by retired people, and are used to cart grandkids, elderly parents and dogs around occasionally. See my own sainted Mother’s loaded to the gills VW Routan as exhibit A, and my Great Aunt’s equally loaded Odyssey as Exhibit B.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The Chevy Suburban LT’s mpg is very similar and better in every possible way. I will say though, I am not a fan of minivans, but this one looks attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      A Suburban LT runs close to $50,000 out the door and the only way you’ll ever see 21 mpg is to move to Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        sching

        “The only way you’ll ever see 21 mpg is to move to Canada”…WTF? Oh…Imperial gallon…20% bigger than the US gallon…I get it. Well done.

        Actually, Canadians have largely succumbed to the SI/Metric monster and measure fuel economy in litres per 100 km.

        But the Brits, they still use good ol’ mp(Imp.)g.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      “better in every possible way” + backhanded compliment.

      That’s just an awesome response. So sure of yourself. Well done – I’d vote for you!

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I think it’s one of the best looking minivan designs I’ve seen in a while. I guess I’m in the minority.

  • avatar
    fli317

    I’m all for 49 mpg, but with 3 kids, trips to the movies, soccer games or baseball games with friends, cousins and grandparents, that third row is mighty handy. Club soccer too brings up a lot of extended trips with full use of the third row. Just depends what your needs are. Times may be a changin’, but some of us just have to pay the price of bananas. It beats driving two corollas in tandem everywhere you go.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      Yeah, being able to seat 7 allows kids to be social. We have 3 kids, and it is nice that their cousins can spend the weekend with us and we can take them places without having to take 2 cars. (we have a 2004 quest–got it relatively cheap–pretty reliable-but a lot of nick-nack pieces just want to fall off the car).

  • avatar
    Dauphiner

    I recently drove the base Model S as a loaner for a 3000 mile trip with my wife and three kids and musical instruments. I was prepared to hate it, but ended up respecting it. It had plenty of power, and was great going 80 MPH on the interstate, and as a van it had enough room for us.
    I thought I would hate the CVT, but I really can’t say I noticed it in any particular way. I got 22 MPG on the trip, which was almost entirely Interstate driving.

    It had a nice tight turning radius, and along with its relatively narrow body, it felt very easy to drive in the city.

    The rear seats don’t fold flat, but I think that’s an advantage, since fold-flat rear seats aren’t as comfortable. I especially liked the hidden trunk area in the rear where we could hide the instruments.

    We had the Model S, the stripped version – I would definitely want at least the SL. For one thing, we only had two 12v outlets in the van, and that’s not enough with today’s need for electronic entertainment.

    As someone else mentioned, now that we have to have booster seats until the age of 8 (or is it 10…), when you have a bunch of little critters, you need a big vehicle, with lots of space. The Quest would do – and if I lived in an urban area, I might even move it to the front of the queue for my next van.


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