My $43,790 Quest LE began its year-long tenure with us by acting as a support vehicle for a Lotus Evora on an Epic Drive that spanned 2800 miles from Washington to Montana, down the Continental Divide to New Mexico, and then home to California (check it out on Motor Trend's YouTube channel). Unlike the Lotus, however, the Quest stuck around for another 31,000 miles of service.
For the next dozen months, the Quest was my ride. (And, yes, by choice.) As a father of one at the time, I wanted to see how easy -- or difficult -- the Quest made my life. I drove it daily to and from the office. Chauffeured the family on vacations. Used it as fishing-trip hauler, airport taxi, group-lunch shuttle, you name it. And when they bribed me properly, MT's photo/video department borrowed it for assignments that required a rig capable of swallowing more than 108 cubic feet of cargo.
Of course, those who borrowed the Japan-built Quest, which is longer than Sienna, narrower than Town & Country, and taller than Odyssey, and powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 cranking out 260 hp and 240 lb-ft, also enjoyed its dazzling array of LE amenities: leather trim, 13-speaker Bose audio, Bluetooth, backup camera, blind-spot warning, DVD entertainment, Plasmacluster cabin air purifier, Intelligent Key with push-button start, one-touch power sliding doors and hatch, power and heated front-row seats, fold-flat second and third rows, 16 cupholders, one 120V and two 12V power outlets, HID headlamps, and 18-inch wheels. Whew! My bitchin' bus also had the $1350 dual glass power moonroof, $110 splash guards, and $180 floormats.
The Quest's seating position is low and enveloping, as if you're resting in a comfy La-Z-Boy, with the dash sitting high up.
Let's start with the Quest's pros, as there are many. The CVT proved smooth and always willing to jump into the powerband for a surge of accel. And when heading downhill, the overdrive-off button (which I dubbed the "sport" mode), provided welcome engine-braking for the 4576-pound Nissan. The steering, while a little tardy on turn-in, delivered nice linearity and weighting, and the ride provided a cushioned, composed feel. In terms of convenience, the Quest was a champ. Rather than having to fumble with a key fob, its Intelligent Key system enabled the press of a door-handle button to unlock the doors or operate one of the power sliders, which was especially handy when my mitts were full of groceries or my son. The Quest's cargo capabilities, too, were excellent. A covered storage bin aft of the third row provided more than 11 cubic feet of security for valuables, not to mention just being plain useful and still usable even when the third row was folded flat. Further, the Quest's fold-flat second row goes horizontal with a simple lever pull, and the third row folds flat at a tug of a leash. While I appreciated all of the aforementioned amenities, I especially valued the blind-spot monitor (a nice feature on a big brick), the DVD entertainment system (priceless on road trips with kids), and the Plasmacluster air purifier (why smell stench?).
Cons? Yes, there were a few, namely low-slung doors that often hit curbs, lazy tip-in throttle response, a so-so range of 480 miles (our LT Odyssey Touring's was 588), OK fuel economy, and a finicky gas tank that twice almost left me stranded. Regarding the last, at 22,500 miles, the gas tank and fuel pump got replaced at no cost under service bulletin NTB11-068A. Apparently, we weren't the only ones to experience a sudden fuel loss when the tank was less than a quarter full and the van was parked or moving on an incline.
During its 34,000 miles of service, the Quest paid four maintenance visits to the dealer. At 7500 and 22,500 miles, it received an oil change, tire rotation, and full inspection; and at 15,000 and 30,000, it underwent the same as well as replacement of the cabin air filter (15K) and cabin and engine air filters (30K). All told, the Quest amassed a service bill of $830.83. Normal-wear cost was limited to a $720 set of Toyo Versado tires installed at 22,500 miles. In addition to the gas-tank SB, an engine-control module reprogram was performed at no cost under service bulletin NTB12-022.
In December 2011, after spending a week in our LT Odyssey, I had the following to say about the two similarly equipped minivans: "As much as I like the Honda's extended range, flashier styling, and sportier feel, what makes a minivan really attractive to me are its conveniences and ease of use; thus, I'll take the Nissan. The Quest offers an easier, better entry system, handy fold-flat second and third rows, and ample storage space that includes a covered bin that's always available. For my trip, it's Quest over Odyssey."
A year later, my sentiments still haven't changed.
| 2012 Nissan Quest LE |
| Service life || 12 mo/34,506 mi |
| Options || Dual-opening glass moonroof ($1350), carpeted floormats ($180), splash guards ($110) |
| Price as tested || $43,790 |
| Problem areas || Fuel tank |
| Maintenance cost || $830.83 (4-oil change, tire rotation, inspection; 2-cabin air filter, engine air filter) |
| Normal-wear cost || $720 (four Toyo Versado tires) |
| 3-yr residual value* || $17,950 |
| Recalls || NTB11-068A: replace fuel tank; NTB12-022: ECM reprogram |
| EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ || 19/24/21 mpg |