Nissan, never an automaker to be left out in the cold, is bringing its own heat to the segment, courtesy of a fervent, new 2011 Quest. Absent for the 2010 model year, the Quest ends a brief hiatus, hailing now from Kyushu, Japan, rather than Canton, Mississippi. With Nissan's new NV line of commercial vehicles hogging the Mississippi factory, not to mention the JDM Elgrand serving as the basis for the '11 Quest, Japan production seemed only appropriate.

The 2004-09 Quest had the profile of an aardvark, but the new '11 looks more like a grizzly bear. At 200.8 inches long, 77.6 inches wide, and 71.5 inches tall, the Quest is 0.6-inch longer than the Sienna, 1.1 inches narrower than the T&C, and 3.1 inches taller than the Odyssey. As the tallest and narrowest of the minivan set, the Nissan certainly appears statuesque, but it doesn't look especially slender. Perhaps the rear wraparound glass, which makes the Quest seem as if it is missing D-pillars, and the squared-off tail contribute to the wider-than-it-really-is illusion. Regardless, the Quest, at 0.32 Cd, slips efficiently through the air, nearly matching the drag coefficient of the sleeker-looking Sienna (0.31).

With its tall, boxy facade, the Quest touts an interior space that generally feels cavernous. We say generally because, despite touting comparable second- and third-row measurements, the Quest trails most of its competitors in cargo capacity. Both the Nissan's second and third rows fold flat -- it's an easy, one-pull process, and a power-folding third row is standard on the LE -- but they don't drop down into wells, as with the Chrysler's Sto 'n Go second row and the others' third rows. Thus, the floor, while flat, doesn't sit as low as those in competitive vans, so the Quest's cargo capacity behind the first, second, and third rows maxes out at 108.4, 63.6, and 35.1 cubic feet, respectively. Compare that to the hauling capability of the Sienna (150.0, 87.1, 39.1) and Odyssey (148.5, 93.1, 38.4), and the Quest is noticeably deficient. That said, the Quest's numbers are still big (over 108 cubic feet is nothing to be embarrassed about) and it's hard to imagine it not having enough room for the average family's most cumbersome objects. For the cargo area that will see the most use -- the space aft the third row -- Nissan gave the Quest a standard storage well, fitted with covers. The space is large enough for 11.4 cubic feet of goods, and the composite covers, which can support more than 200 pounds, create a new load floor able to prop another 23.7 cubic feet.