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2012 Nissan Quest Minivan Road Test Review by Martha Hindes - 2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide

2012 Nissan Quest Minivan Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 Minivan Buyer's Guide - Top Picks

Would you really expect a minivan -- of all things -- to feel like you were driving a car? Aren't they rather like roadworthy versions of Tele-Tubbies that waddle when they drive? Don't try telling that to anyone who's had seat time in Nissan's 2012 Quest. You're likely to get an ear full in an instant.

Nissan spent the previous year reinventing its extremely capable minivan, toning and tucking its sheet metal exterior to enliven the look that carries over for 2012. A restyled, muscular face gives a sense of command and authority. The resulting sculpture-like profile is surrounded with a sweep of privacy glass

That wasn't what caught our attention as we punched the "Start" button once the keyless entry let us inside. After a few minutes on flat Michigan roads, it became obvious. This was really a sedan masquerading as a minivan. No heavy feeling behind the wheel. No sense of drag on curves or lag during acceleration. Heck, without cargo or a load of passengers, we almost forgot we were driving a minivan. We estimate it would have fared well with those additions anyway. That authority in the front drive Quest comes from Nissan’s 3.5-liter, 260-horsepower V6, with variable speed transmission.

Inside, we were spoiled with the upscale SL edition provided by Nissan for testing. The handsome beige interior highlighted with burled wood-look trim, felt downright toney and helped create that enjoyable sedan feel. Heated seats on the first blustery late fall day felt wonderful. And an advanced air purifier system to filter out allergens and odors should satisfy any sensitive nose.

Quest seats seven instead of eight like some competitors. The result is more substantial second row seating that isn't encroached on by a sometimes flimsier mid-seat. Second and third row seating is slightly raised, for an unrestrained feeling in the rear. When seats fold down, they don't disappear into the floor, but form a slightly raised but flat and level load floor.

To touch techie audio controls, however, we had to reach around the shifter that in space-saving mode like other minivans sits high on the instrument panel's face. A sense of frustration disappeared when we realized the IP's video screen was for optional backup camera and DVD rather than mapping out trips. Navigation, if available, would have bumped up the $37K sticker. We can't judge the base model S edition, but admire its more budget friendly $27,750 entry level price.

Safety gets high priority in the Quest. Its "Safety Shield" coordinates several advanced systems including Blind Spot Warning that's standard on the top line LE. And tire pressure monitoring to prevent uneven tire wear or compromise safety includes an industry first "Easy Fill Tire Alert." It beeps when tires are at the right pressure when being filled with air. EPA mileage numbers, when confirmed, are expected to be 19/24.

For someone who doesn't want to feel deprived of driving fun even with a carload of treasures in tow, we think the Quest addresses a pretty basic concern. Is there room to be lively in family life driving? Since we missed the mark on fuel economy, thanks to some sportier driving, we think that answers the question.

Nissan Quest website, click here.