2014 Nissan Quest LE First Test
Testing Nissan's Comfortable and Quirky People-Mover
Minivans have taken a back seat as three-row SUVs have taken over the scene, offering many of the same amenities and better looks. And although the minivan segment has been on the rise in recent years, the numbers just aren't the same as in its heyday. Before the Nissan Quest's redesign in 2011, it was just another competitor in the segment, with sales numbers far below the two top dogs, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey.
Now in its fourth generation, the 2014 Nissan Quest stands out from the rest of the minivan pack. Thanks to its redesign, it's immediately noticeable on the road, but whether that's a good thing remains to be seen. Sales numbers have indeed jumped, thanks to the different accessible trim levels. Nissan offers the Quest in four different levels, starting with the $26,220 Quest S. The other three models include the Quest SV, SL, and top-of-the-line LE, which comes with a starting price of $42,870.
We got behind the wheel of the latest Nissan Quest LE during our minivan Big Test (stay tuned for the full story), pitting it against the likes of the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, Kia Sedona, and Toyota Sienna. Each model had its pros and cons, and the Quest definitely left an impression, from its uniquely unattractive design to key purchasing factors.
Perhaps the first thing you notice about the Quest is its boxy design and large mirrors that seem better suited to a heavy-duty truck. Although other automakers have tried out the box or toaster design, such as with the Ford Flex and Scion xB, Nissan brought this design to its underwhelming minivan in hopes of breathing some life back into it. And it worked. It became a minivan with a modicum of an unusual design, differentiating it from the others. Its size alone is enough for many to give this minivan a once-over, leaving the impression that it is heavy and lumbering on the road. And although that is partially true, the interior is able to offer a large amount of passenger and cargo room thanks to that largeness.
As soon as you get behind the wheel, you can't help but sigh as the overly cushioned and comfortable seats envelop you. It's clear Nissan was thinking more about the driver and the experience rather than creating just a functional and spacious people-mover. The armrests are in perfect reach for the driver, which is something that can't be said for the majority of the segment. The quality of the materials and execution of design moves the Nissan Quest closer to the likes of the Chrysler Town & Country than its Japanese counterparts.
However, although the interior layout is clean with a simple center stack, the Quest lacks a modern instrument cluster screen. The infotainment system also could have been better in terms of its controls and distance to the driver. Our model came with captain's chairs in the second row that don't fold down like some of its competitors', but they do slide forward to provide plenty of room for passengers needing access to the third row.
For those trips when extra cargo space is needed in lieu of seating, the third row seats fold easily with the push of a button, completely storing into the floor. Also, unlike the top contenders in the minivan segment, the Nissan Quest is the only model to offer hideaway storage for valuable items. Thanks to the sturdy panels that keep peeping eyes away from pricier cargo, it's easy to store more stuff. It's like a cabinet in the rear of the minivan with two layers of storage to meet almost any need of the owner.
Minivans don't typically excite drivers, but the 2014 Nissan Quest is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 paired with the automaker's Xtronic CVT. Because of its size and weight, its fuel economy is slightly lower than other models in the segment, coming in at 19/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined, but average observed fuel economy for our time behind the wheel reached 22.6 mpg, surpassing the EPA estimate.
With this engine setup, the Nissan Quest was able to deliver a 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds and took 126 feet to go from 60 mph to a full stop, 0.1 second quicker and 6 feet sooner than our long-term 2011 Nissan Quest LE. Its quarter-mile time of 16.1 seconds at 90.1 mph matched our long-termer in time but surpassed the older version's top speed. Compared with some models in the segment, such as the Kia Sedona SXL, the Quest manages to have virtually the same figures. (The Kia outperforms the Nissan in stopping time.) But when compared with the Toyota Sienna SE, the Nissan Quest LE falls short in every category.
When out on the road, a few things stood out, the first of which was the CVT transmission. Upshifts and downshifts were smooth and hardly noticeable, although we've heard complaints in the past about Nissan's Xtronic CVT. The automaker has made some tweaks for the 2015 model, though. Acceleration was strong, and although the throttle could be touchy, once we were used to it, pickup was quick, and reaching speeds was relatively easy considering the weight the Quest has behind it.
Going along with the cushy comfort of the interior, the suspension felt cushioned and not as jarring as in other minivans in the segment. Some of the more obvious road imperfections created slight jarring, but the majority were imperceptible. Added to that, steering was spot on, making handling much easier for this large model. Winding roads were no issue, and although the Nissan Quest felt secure on the road, it was easy to feel the weight when going up and down hills.
If you're one of those customers looking for the latest and greatest minivan, we'd recommend cross-shopping a few different models, such as the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Kia Sedona, as each offers something different to the segment. The 2014 Nissan Quest is one of the most comfortable models out there for passengers and drivers alike, but with that comfort comes one giant caveat: The Quest's safety scores are less than desirable. Many of its competitors are IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ recipients, and the Quest fails to earn either thanks to low scores on the new small overlap front test and roof strength.
|2014 Nissan Quest LE|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$45,315|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door van|
|ENGINE||3.5L/260-hp/240-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont. variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,505 lb (55/45%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||200.8 x 77.6 x 71.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.1 sec @ 90.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||126 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.74 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.9 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/25/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||177/135 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.91 lb/mile|
Automaker-provided 2014 Nissan Quest photos: