Suburban Dad: Nissan Quest

Way to go. As a Suburban Dad, I’m required by law (at least it seems that way) to own a minivan. I have lived by this law for nearly a dozen years, so I know minivans, yet Nissan’s Quest wowed my suburban family with its plentiful features, unusual styling (and seating) and brilliantly laid-out controls. I particularly liked the Quest’s nav system, which I found easy to use without any instruction. We did have one unfortunate incident when we entered the wrong address and couldn’t figure out how to get the system to stop directing us there, but we were able to muzzle it.

  • Anyway, the Quest performed better than I expected it would, and that was largely because of some approaches I hadn’t seen before:
  • The Quest has a very low threshold; when I get into my own minivan, it’s a big step up. Not so with the Quest. It’s very easy to get in and out, and there’s a lot of space between the front seats and the second row, which led to fewer fights between the kids because they didn’t have to climb over each other to get in.
  • The well in the back of the van was very deep, and the two-step process to drop the third row was easy and intuitive. The seats didn’t lie completely flat, but their edge was well below the sill, so I don’t imagine loading the Quest would be a problem.
  • The third row was stadium-seating style, which Teen Son liked. It improved his vision of the road, and he felt it was “spacious,” one of five words he had to say about the Quest.
  • I found the nav/radio controls to be extremely easy to use, and I didn’t need to look away from the road very much to make changes.
  • The integrated nav/radio display also impressed me. It has the clock display built into it, which I prefer over the many carmakers who think the clock should be nowhere near the radio display. In addition, it has one of those “when the car gets louder, we’ll turn up the radio” functions. Sadly, for me anyway, the van’s ride was so quiet I couldn’t really test how well this might work. I thought about asking the kids to scream, but then thought better of it.

The Wife: The big question was, would she buy this for the family? “It’d be on the list,” she said, and Nissan should take that to heart. We owned a ’91 Sentra that we loved to drive, but whose transmission and brakes gave us nothing but trouble. For her to add this to the list (and believe me, I know the list, and the Quest wasn’t on it) is a big compliment. She was bugged, as I was, by the front seats. They seemed to have an overabundance of lumbar support; I found that funky at first, but during a two-hour commute began to realize that the seat’s construction was forcing me to sit with better posture. I think the design may also keep drivers more alert. The Wife only rode in it for about a half-hour (it was the 9-Year-Old’s birthday; he’s now officially the 10-Year-Old), and wasn’t sure she’d get used to it.

The Kids: They had less to say about this one, but they were all happy with it. The series of moonroofs throughout the back wowed them, especially the Tweener Daughter, and they were particularly glad to see the personal headphone jacks in the back. We didn’t get to use it, but the kids took note of the built-in DVD player to complain again about how I’d neglected to buy one when we bought our current minivan.

All in all, we found the Quest bigger, more user-friendly and sleeker than we expected. It may not be new (the model was only tweaked slightly from the previous year), but Nissan has something here.

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