The Nissan Quest has returned from a two-year hiatus with some substantial changes. Nissan recently unveiled its minivan to The Beat and several other automotive journalists and mommy bloggers (what a fun group) in San Diego.
For starters, the new Quest is built in Kyushu, Japan, instead of Canton, Miss., where its predecessor was made. It's also smaller than the 2009 Quest, which had a 124-inch wheelbase.
It now is scaled similarly to its key competitors in the segment, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey (scroll below to see review).
The Quest is still built on the same platform as the Altima and Maxima sedans and the Murano crossover -- Nissan's D-segment platform.
The new Quest's wheelbase is 118.2 inches, with a 68.1-inch track and length of 200.1 inches.
Nissan says that, unlike the Odyssey and Sienna, the Quest is a seven-passenger minivan with no bench option in the second row. The 60/40-split third-row seat folds flat with a single pull of a strap (or it can be powered down on the higher trim levels). The second-row captain's chairs recline and adjust fore-and-aft, as well as fold. But without the bench, Nissan says, it will be easier for users to adjust for big hauling assignments. Maximum cargo volume is 148 cubic feet.
The Quest has always been known for atypical styling among minivans, and this version follows that pattern. It is inspired by the design of Nissan's Japanese-market minivans, with a taller, boxier look than its competitors. Nissan reportedly says the 2011 Quest is meant to look as if it's "carved from one solid piece of sculptor's stone," and says this design provides aerodynamic benefits.
The engine is Nissan's VQ-Series 3.5-liter V-6, which is rated at 235 horsepower and 240 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is linked to Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is used in the Maxima and Murano. Nissan estimates that fuel economy on the Quest will be 16 mpg city and 24 highway.
There are a number of safety and convenience features offered, including a jumbo 11-inch screen for the rear entertainment system and tri-zone climate control system with the Plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter that debuted on the Infiniti M sedans.
Also, perhaps the coolest feature is the tire-pressure monitoring system that includes a horn alert to let you know when you've achieved the correct pressure when you're putting air in the tires.
The Quest, going on sale in January, will come in S, SV, SL and LE trim levels. The base S model has the basic minivan features, along with keyless start. The SV includes back-up camera, automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a USB input, among other things. Move to the SL and get the power-fold feature for the third row along with leather upholstery, and the top level LE provides a navigation system, a 12-speaker Bose audio system, a rear entertainment system, the Plasmacluster purifier, a blind spot warning system and low-beam xenon headlights.