No longer will Nissan loyalists searching for a seven-passenger people-mover be forced into the Pathfinder. The 2011 Nissan Quest -- debuting at the Los Angeles Auto Show -- is back and ready to take on Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, and Toyota.
Altima drivers who want more space should be an easy sell for the Quest. The real question is whether it can attract buyers who usually would head straight for a Grand Caravan, Sienna, or Odyssey.
The styling of the 2011 Quest should at least generate second glances from minivan consumers, with blacked-out D-pillars that recall the Ford Flex, this segment's unofficial competitor. The front view is all Nissan, with angular headlights joined by a thick bar of chrome, connected to a distinctive six-sided grille. The Nissan's door track isn't hidden as on the Chrysler, Dodge, and Toyota.
As you'd expect, the Quest is based on the same platform as the Altima, Maxima, and Murano. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 253 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy has not yet been rated. A CVT is the only available transmission for the Quest, which has a curb weight of 4367 in base S trim. For comparison, the 2011 Honda Odyssey LX weighs 4337 pounds, while the more powerful 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan comes in at 4510 pounds.
At this point, there's no word on the possibility of an all-wheel-drive Quest. Safety is especially important to minivan drivers, and Nissan has its bases covered. Dual-stage supplemental front air bags are joined by front seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted curtain side impact air bags with a rollover sensor. Stability and traction controls are standard, but the automaker's Blind Spot Warning system is offered only on the top-line LE trim.
Standard on all trims is a neat feature called Easy Fill Tire Alert that we hope spreads its way to all Nissan's family-oriented vehicles. Perhaps to encourage more drivers to start regularly checking tire pressure, the technology will let you know the system is working by flashing the hazard lights as you fill the tires. When the correct tire pressure has been reached, your Quest will beep the horn.