The upright, tall, boxy looks of the Nissan Quest divide shoppers into two categories: love it, or leave it. Our guess is that most mainstream shoppers may be in the latter category rather than the former.
We're going to swipe left on the exterior and interior appearances on the Quest. It earns a 3 out of 10 on our style-o-meter. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Quest leans hard on its Japanese-market van roots and bears a slight resemblance to the modern-cool looks of the Flex, according to our eyeballs. The nose looks lower and smaller thanks to large inlets, but the rear ends abruptly for better aerodynamics. Blacked-out pillars give the impression that the Quest has a floating roof—and it manages to smooth over some of the boxiness a little—but from the rear quarter and beyond, it's just a little flat. The Quest doesn't wear the corporate Nissan "V-motion" grille and that's probably a good thing—it can turn into a "beak" on some cars.
It's the same story inside, with plain-looking LCD displays and stacked rectangles for controls. There's a mix of wood and gray plastic throughout the cabin of the Quest, which makes it feel upscale in some areas—unfinished in others. The transmission lever lines up vertically on the center stack, and it blocks the driver's view of some knobs and buttons.
Upright and boxy, the Quest may be hip and cool at some point—just not right now.
Minivans aren't necessarily fun to drive, but they can manage to be somewhat entertaining. The Quest handles like a smaller car, and its steering is relatively good for the class.
That said, we don't see many favorable comparisons to a sports car, and we're not jazzed by the continuously variable autobox. The Quest earns a 4 out of 10 on our scale for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
All versions of the Quest are equipped with the same powertrain: a 260-horsepower V-6 teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It's a little smoother and quieter than other cars in the Nissan lineup, and the van isn't strained for passing power.
The Quest's ace may be its independent suspension at all four corners. It smooths over bumps and imperfections on the road and feels like it's damped better than other rivals. We're talking about a minivan here, so it's important to note that the Quest still corners, accelerates, and brakes with nothing but safety in mind.
The Quest also feels the most nimble thanks to a well-tuned hydraulic steering system. Other vans have switched to fully electronic power steering systems, which are quite good, but the Nissan rebounds from turns in a more relaxed way.
We like the CVTs programming in the Quest, thanks in part to Nissan's D-Step shift logic that simulate "gears" to feel more responsive. That said, it's not as new or refined as the 9-speed automatic found in the Pacifica.
A good suspension helps, but performance isn't the Quest's forte either.
The 2017 Nissan Quest has the profile of a minivan, but lacks some of the usefulness we'd expect from a family-first vehicle.
We give it credit for having a folding third row that can fit a crew in a pinch—but not much more. It earns a 6 out of 10 on our scale for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Poor use of space is to blame here. Between the wheels there are 118.1 inches, and there are 200.8 inches bumper-to-bumper, which puts it on the small side of minivans on the road today. The 2016 Honda Odyssey rides on the same size wheelbase (it's about 2 inches longer, though) and has less passenger volume, but is magnitudes more comfortable.
For instance, the sliding doors on the Quest don't slide far enough for adults to clamber up and into the seats easily. It can be challenging to fit a car seat into the opening, let alone children with their own agendas. The Quest doesn't have a second-row bench, so it doesn't have the same eight-seat capacity as most of its rivals. The third row seats are acceptable for children, but not recommended for fully grown legs.
Second and third row seats don't slide fore and aft, rather they easily tumble down when more cargo room is needed. The load floor is comparably high, which makes the Quest feel smaller than it is. If you order the power assist for the third-row seat, it's important to note that it stops short of raising the seats all the way. The feature gives up at the vertical position, which leaves owners to use a cloth strap to awkwardly finish the job.
The seats don't fold completely flat into the floor, which cuts into cargo volume. By the numbers, the Quest has 37.1 cubic feet behind its third-row seats, 63.4 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 108.4 cubic feet with the second row folded. The new Kia Sedona has folding second-row seats like the Quest, but still offers up 33.9/78.4/142 cubic feet of space, respectively. The Chrysler Pacifica has a class-leading, fold-in-the-floor seats on some models, and with them, they can boast of 32.3/87.5/140.5 cubic feet. The humongous Sienna's numbers are 39.1/87.1/150 cubic feet of space with the second-row seats folded up and the third row tucked away. The Odyssey is almost as big, with 38.4/93.1/148.5 cubic feet of space behind the respective rows.
Other compromises are less noticeable, but they're there. There's no telescoping steering wheel, though the high seating position makes the most of the situation. The Quest offers up 16 cup and bottle holders, but the pop-out pair under the radio are big enough only for cans.
Beyond dizzying numbers and ergonomic quibbles, the Quest manages to be relatively comfortable. The front seats have decent leg and head room, and large adults will comfortably fit in the big, lushly upholstered buckets. The view ahead reminds us a lot of the first Japanese minivans that came to the U.S. in the 1980s, with a flat dash structure that makes for easy entry and exit, along with wide doors.
Minivans should be spacious, versatile, and comfortable. Unfortunately, the Quest manages to succeed in only one of those categories.
Federal testers haven't put a Nissan Quest through its battery of tests in a while, and the data that is available from the IIHS isn't all that impressive. Given the age of the vehicle, it's likely that those scores won't change much anytime soon.
Last year, the Quest earned a rare "Poor" rating in the small-overlap front crash test (the IIHS called it one of the worst performances yet in the 40-mph small overlap test) and an "Acceptable" rating in roof strength. Those scores, combined with a lack of a standard rearview camera mean the Quest scores a low 2 out of 10 on our safety scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A fair amount of standard safety features on the Quest help it stay (somewhat) relevant. Anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control are standard, as are dual front, side, and curtain side airbags.
A rearview camera is standard on SV, SL, and Platinum models, and the top trim gets a standard surround-view camera system and blind-spot monitors.
The Quest's age shows in its safety scores, which are far behind other minivans, and sets it further back in a safety-conscious segment.
Other minivans have far surpassed the Quest in safety ratings.
The 2017 Nissan Quest is equipped identically to last year's model and is offered in the same range of trims: S, SV, SL, and Platinum.
Base S models are equipped with power windows, locks, and mirrors; 16-inch wheels with caps; a four-speaker AM/FM/CD radio; front and rear climate controls; and keyless ignition. Notably missing from the rundown are Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, or any infotainment display.
That's not especially extravagant, nor is it up to par with the rest of its class in available features. It earns a 3 out of 10 on our scale for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Shoppers would be better advised to start at the SV trim, which has more features you'd expect from a family-friendly car. SV models are equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, power sliding rear doors, an upgraded six-speaker stereo with 5.0-inch display, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and roof rails for more than $31,000.
The Quest SL adds luxury touches such as 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, power liftgate, automatic headlights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver's seat, and more interior storage cubbies.
At more than $44,000 to start, the Quest Platinum goes all-in on features with standard navigation, power assist for the third-row seats, an 8.0-inch infotainment display with Bose premium stereo, air filtration system, wood trim, a DVD entertainment system with an 11-inch screen, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and upgraded headlights.
Like most Nissan vehicles, the Quest doesn't have many options available from the factory. The DVD player is available for the SV and SL, while a Bose speaker package is offered for the SL. Satellite radio is offered on mid-line Quests. Dual sunroofs are available on the SL and Platinum models. The Quest has mostly skipped other cutting-edge luxury features, like Chrysler's Uconnect wireless hotspot or Toyota's wide-screen DVD entertainment system.
Although its starting price is very low, the Nissan Quest doesn't offer the same number of creature comforts as others.
Despite being one of the oldest minivans on the market now, the 2017 Nissan Quest manages to nudge itself toward the top for fuel efficiency.
That boils down to the van's continuously variable automatic transmission that keeps the V-6 right in its efficiency sweet spot. The EPA rates the Quest at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined.
That's good enough for a 6 out of 10 on our fuel-efficiency scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chrysler's newest Pacifica manages the same 22 combined mark, but surpasses the Quest in efficiency with its plug-in hybrid. The leading minivans on the market—the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey—both manage 22 combined, according to the EPA.
The Nissan Quest may be one of the older minivans on the market, but it's just as efficient as newer rivals.