Not all minivan buyers need the same thing. For those who need the most space, there’s the Toyota Sienna. For those who want the latest safety and infotainment technology, there’s the Chrysler Pacifica. But some buyers prioritize a higher level of comfort and luxury, and if that’s your dealmaker, then the Nissan Quest shines. It has super soft, comfortable seating, a host of luxury-oriented features, and a smooth ride.
For other buyers, the Quest may be fraught with dealbreakers. It has far and away the least cargo space in the class. It also has a somewhat confusing control layout, and lacks the latest high-tech safety features that are becoming a priority among minivan shoppers. But its ride quality and seat comfort are undeniable.
Read on to learn if the Quest is the best minivan for you.
2016 Nissan Quest Fast Facts
Seating: 7 passengers (no 8-passenger option)
• High-quality interior
• Unique design
• Affordable price
• Sharp handling
• Tight turning radius
• Strong Acceleration
• Good fuel economy
• Least cargo space in class
• No 8-passenger option
• Lacks latest safety technology
• No all-wheel drive
• Awkward transmission feel
• No stow-away or removable seats
• Confusing audio layout
• Sliding doors don’t open very wide
Dealmakers: Nissan Quest’s Top Lifestyle Features
The Quest trades on its interior quality and high-end materials. It also provides a stand-out design for the class, offering something of an alternative to some other minivans’ more staid designs. It manages to do this with a low starting price, undercut only by one minivan in the segment on base price.
Dealmaker: the Most Luxurious Interior
Without a doubt, interior refinement is the Quest’s best attribute. Nissan goes for the quality-over-quantity approach with its minivan, offering high-grade materials, and plenty of standard and optional features. No matter what seat you’re in, the superior fit-and-finish is apparent. According to Edmunds, “Interior materials are the best you’ll find in a minivan, with the leather-appointed cabins in the range-topping trims feeling especially premium and luxurious.” Nissan is the parent company of luxury carmaker Infiniti, and based on the level of comfort and refinement in the Quest, it could arguably wear the badge of that luxury brand.
Dealmaker: Unique Design
Shopping for minivans can easily turn into a mind-numbing affair of comparing indistinguishable vehicle designs — they run together in your mind. Luckily, the Quest distinguishes itself with styling like nothing else in the pack. Up front, the grille features a large chrome bar, framed by chiseled headlights. Out back, Nissan doesn’t shy away from the boxy nature, it just owns it with the upright rear lines. The unique blacked-out D-pillars at the rear corners make the Quest stand out in any parking lot.
Dealmaker: Affordable Price
Not so much a lifestyle feature, but a way to maximize quality of life. With a starting price of $26,580, the Quest is undercut by only the Kia Sedona as the most affordable option in the minivan segment. That gets you standard V6 power, tire pressure monitoring system, easy tire fill alert (when filling tires, honks horn when tires have been correctly inflated), power sliding doors, power lift gate, second row captain’s chairs, auxiliary audio jack, remote keyless entry, and push-button start. That’s a pretty comprehensive list, and at the top end of the lineup, a fully loaded Quest comes in at a lower price than its rivals.
Dealmaker: Easy Fill Alert System
Not everyone carries a tire pressure gauge with them when they drive. But with the Easy Fill Alert, you don’t need one. If a tire is getting low, the standard tire pressure monitor lets you know which tire(s) need air. Simply head to a service station with an air machine, and as you start to fill up that tire, the Quest flashes its hazard lights to let you know air is flowing. When the horn chirps, the tire is full and you’re ready to get back on the road.
Dealbreakers: Nissan Quest’s Worst Lifestyle Features
Despite its unique styling, affordable price and upscale cabin, the Quest has some serious faults. The main one being its interior packaging, which seriously cuts down on its usability when compared with other minivans. The first three items below all stem from the Quest’s seating and cargo layout.
Dealbreaker: Least Cargo Space in Class
The Quest’s innovative styling and luxury interior come at a price — they severely cut into its cargo volume. If you include the under-floor luggage area, there’s 37.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. That’s respectably in the middle of the pack, but things falter from there. Folding the third row gives way to 63.6 cubic feet of cargo space (other minivans have between 78.4 and 93.1 cubic feet), and folding down all rear seats provides 108.4 cubic feet. That’s well below the rest of the pack, which has between 142 and 150 cubic feet of cargo space.
Dealbreaker: No 8-Passenger Option
You’d think with the low cargo numbers that space went to use on larger seating or more innovative storage options, but no such luck. In fact, the Quest doesn’t even offer the option of a three-passenger second row, as offered on every other van in the market. While the second row captain’s chairs are comfortable, many families would prefer the added seating capacity provided by a middle row.
Dealbreaker: Seats Don’t Stow or Remove
So, the Quest has the least amount of cargo space and lacks the 8-passenger option — it must offer something in the way of removable or stowable seating, right? Nah, the second and third row seatbacks fold forward, but that’s it. That means the seats fold like they do on an SUV — and as the numbers show, that severely cuts into the available cargo space offered. If you are buying the Quest for carting your family around, let’s hope you travel light.
Dealbreaker: Confusing Audio Controls
The Quest is available with a Bose premium audio system with 13 speakers, including a subwoofer. The only problem is, it’s a bit confusing to operate this the stereo. While your eyes are drawn to the center touch screen right in the middle of the dash, the volume knob, tuning dial, presets and other toggles are down — way down — at the bottom of the center stack. They are actually below the climate controls, meaning you’re going between the low controls and the high placement of the display to do basic things like change the radio station. Such confusing controls can be distracting.
Dealbreaker: Sliding Doors Don’t Open Wide
Depending on what kind of cargo duty you have in mind for the Quest, the actual size of the door openings is an important metric — determining the size of the object you can actually fit in the van. The Car Connection has provided some useful background on the Quest, and what it means for the consumer: “Its interior volume has fallen, because it’s based on a Japanese-market minivan called the Elgrand, and the openings of the sliding side doors are narrower—apparently not designed with us big Americans in mind.” You don’t always have access to the rear door, and if you’re in a jam and need to get a large object in through the side, there are stricter limits than with other vans.
Dealbreaker: Lacks Serious Safety Tech
The Quest comes with many of the safety basics you’d expect out of any new car. These include a fully array of front and side impact airbags, LATCH child seat tethering system, crumple zones, and traction control. But the Quest doesn’t come with many of the high-tech safety features found across the market in 2016. Features like forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, are all unavailable on the Quest. There is the availability of blind spot monitoring and a backup camera, but neither are rear features. The backup camera comes on every version but the base, and the blind spot detection system only comes with the top-tier Platinum trim.
Dealmaker: Affordable Family Hauler
If you are looking for the best deal on an entry-level van, the Quest is among the best, offering a hefty list of content for the second lowest price in the segment. It is undercut only by the Kia Sedona on base price. Here’s what you’ll get and how much it will cost you:
Trims offered: S, SV, SL, Platinum
S: (MSRP: $26,580) Tire pressure monitoring system, Easy Fill Alert System, power rear lift gate, 6-way manual driver seat, 4-way manual power seat, second row reclining captain’s chairs, 60/40 split/fold third row bench with quick-release strap, auxiliary audio jack, remote keyless entry, 8 cupholders, 8 bottle holders, and push button start.
SV: (MSRP $30,540, includes everything from S, plus) Leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, power sliding doors, SiriusXM satellite radio, tri-zone climate controls, and backup camera.
SL: (MSRP $34,110, includes everything from SV, plus) 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather seating, heated front seats, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Platinum: (MSRP $43,230, includes everything from SL, plus) Side mirrors that tilt-down when reversing, power fold third-row seat, Bose sound system with 13 speakers including subwoofer, navigation system with real-time traffic and weather updates, DVD entertainment system, 360-degree monitor, rear audio controls with wireless headphone capability, second and third row sunshades, and blind-spot monitoring system.
Dealmaker: Strong Acceleration, Mixed Handling Reviews
The Quest’s steering feel is not as precise as some might prefer, but the ride is super smooth over long distances. This is is a great road trip van — as long as you pack light.
Handling: Light on Its Feet, but Maybe Too Light?
“Numb” has been one of the ways the Quest’s steering has been described. As KBB.com puts it, “The luxury-car-inspired interior feels like it carries over into the steering and suspension, neither of which is as sharp as we’d expect in a Nissan.” Nissan doubled down on the soft ride in the Quest. That means a really light steering feel, but the suspension also soaks up plenty of bumps on the road. Cornering is uninspired.
Drivetrain: Strong Acceleration
Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 260 horsepower. It sends power to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. This type of transmission is essentially one variable-ratio gear. In the past, the CVT hasn’t made for a good acceleration feel, but Nissan has tuned this CVT well, and as Car and Driver puts it, “The Quest’s V-6 mates surprisingly well with its standard CVT.” Acceleration is strong, and fuel economy is great for the class, but the lack of gear-changing is a strange sensation for some folks. Nissan has endowed the CVT with “steps” to simulate gear changes, but it still isn’t the same feel you might be used to if you’re coming out of a car with a traditional multi-speed automatic transmission.
• Engine: 3.5-liter V6
• Output: 260 horsepower / 240 lb.-ft. of torque
• Transmission: CVT
• Drivetrain: FWD
• 0-60 MPH: TBD sec
• Towing: 3,500 lbs.
• Fuel economy: 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined)
Dealbreaker: Lacks Safety Features
There are two major safety organizations that test road cars and publish scores. They are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA scores vehicles out of five stars, while the IIHS scores on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Additionally, the IIHS offers “Top Safety Pick” recommendations, as well as “Top Safety Pick +” for vehicles with advanced crash avoidance and mitigation features.
When it comes to safety, the Quest feels like an unfinished product. Not only does the Quest lack certain high-tech safety features like forward collision avoidance, but it has not even been crash tested by NHTSA. As such, the Quest’s safety credentials are lacking — in more way than one.
NHTSA Crash Test Data
|Minivan||NHTSA Overall Rating|
|Chrysler Pacifica||5/5 Stars|
|Kia Sedona||5/5 Stars|
|Toyota Sienna||5/5 Stars|
|Honda Odyssey||5/5 Stars|
|Nissan Quest||Not Rated|
The only two vehicles to earn the IIHS “Top Safety Pick +” rating are the Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona. comprehensive testing of the Pacifica has resulted in a Fiver Star rating from NHTSA. The Sienna is the closest competition. The Kia Sedona earns Five Stars from NHTSA, and “Good” in every category from the IIHS, also earning a “Top Safety Pick” recommendation. It features an optional collision warning system, which stops short of autonomous braking (like the Odyssey), thus keeping it just out of reach from a “Top Safety Pick +” rating.
It is unclear why the Quest has not been crash tested by NHTSA. The lack of results on a vehicle that has been around since 2011 is disconcerting.
IIHS Testing Awards
|Chrysler Pacifica||Top Safety Pick+|
|Kia Sedona||Top Safety Pick+|
|Honda Odyssey||Top Safety Pick|
The Quest has been tested by the IIHS, but it did not perform well enough to earn a Top Safety Pick. The Quest earns the best score of Good for Moderate Overlap Front Crash, Side Crash, and Head Restraint testing. However, it earns a score of Acceptable in Roof Strength testing, and Poor in Small Overlap Front crash testing. It also has not front crash prevention technology. All of these together prevent the Quest from earning a Top Safety Pick.
The Quest does come with a full array of front and side impact airbags, active head restraints, front and rear crumple zones, energy absorbing steering column, tire pressure monitoring system, vehicle dynamic control, and traction control system.
Safety Tech: Behind the Times
The Quest is available with a blind spot monitoring system and a 360-degree surround-view monitor. That’s it. In a time when new cars can protect you from a forward collision and keep you in your lane, the Quest offers none of these features.
Reliability: Good for the Market
The Quest scores well for reliability, earning an overall J.D. Power score of 3 out of 5. It scores of 5/5 in Overall Quality, 2/5 in Overall Performance and Design, and 2/5 in Predicted Reliability. The Quest is backed by a three-year 36,000-mile warranty, and a five-year 36,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tiebreakers: Comparing the Quest to the Competition
In terms of luxury fit-and-finish, the Quest has one of highest quality interiors in the segment. The comfort of the seats and quality of the materials are fantastic. But the Quest falls short of the competition on a number of things tied to cargo management and safety technology.
Toyota Sienna (MSRP $29,750-$47,310)
The Sienna is the largest minivan in the segment, offering an incredible 150 cubic feet of cargo space. Toyota’s minivan offers available all-wheel drive capability, staid styling and a second row that slides for more legroom and is also removable. While the cabin is comfortable, the Quest might have more luxurious seating appointments
Sienna vs Quest:
• Offers AWD (Quest doesn’t)
• Most cargo space in the class (every van in the class has more cargo space, but Sienna has the most)
• Available forward collision avoidance (Quest doesn’t offer this)
Learn more about the Toyota Sienna here.
Chrysler Pacifica (MSRP $28,595-$42,495)
Replacing the dated Town & Country, the Pacifica has sharp new styling. While the outgoing Town & Country was the bargain basement option, the more competent Pacifica roughly matches the Odyssey on price.
Pacifica vs. Quest:
• Seating stows into floor (Quest only folds forward)
• Built-in vacuum optional (not offered on the Quest)
• Dual seat-back touch screens (versus Quest’s single dropdown screen)
Learn more about the Chrysler Pacifica here.
Kia Sedona (MSRP $26,800-$41,900)
As the least expensive option in the segment, the Sedona has a surprisingly quiet and luxurious interior. But many critics pan its sluggish highway acceleration, and handling that feels a little “off.” If you are looking for a van on a budget, the Sedona is the ideal option.
Sedona vs. Quest:
• Better control layout (Quest’s slightly confusing controls)
• Lower price than Quest
• 3rd row seats fold into floor (Quest offers inferior folding setup)
Learn more about the Kia Sedona here.
Honda Odyssey (MSRP $29,850-$45,325)
The Odyssey, like the Sienna, is one of the minivan stalwarts, and one of the top-selling minivans in the class. It features a well-appointed interior, a refined ride quality, and is available with features like a built-in vacuum.
Odyssey vs. Quest:
• Far less cargo space than Odyssey
• Inflexible seating configuration
• Available built-in vacuum (not offered on Quest)
Learn more about the Honda Odyssey here.
Should I Buy a Nissan Quest?
It may seem like we’ve done a bit of Quest-bashing here, so it is worth stating that the Quest is arguably the most comfortable and lavishly appointed minivan in the segment. It may not have the cargo space or cargo management solutions like the Pacifica’s Stow & Go setup, but the seats do fold flat (albeit well above the true load floor) so you can slide in a large item.
So Which to Buy?
• If you love a high-quality, near-luxury interior: Nissan Quest
• If you require easily stowable seating and more cargo space: Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna
• If you want the latest safety and infotainment tech: Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona
• If you must have AWD: Toyota Sienna
• If you’re on a tight budget: Nissan Quest, Kia Sedona
Dealmakers vs. Dealbreakers Final Tally
Dealmaker: Luxurious interior with high quality materials
Dealmaker: Affordable starting price
Dealmaker: Unique design
Dealmaker: Good steering feel
Dealmaker: Good fuel economy
Dealmaker: Strong acceleration
Dealmaker: Easy fill alert system
Dealbreaker: Smallest cargo space in class
Dealbreaker: Lacks latest safety technology
Dealbreaker: No all-wheel drive
Dealbreaker: Confusing audio layout
Final Tally: +3.0
Market Average: +4.0
If you need 140-150 cubic feet of cargo space, dual rear-seat entertainment sytem, removable rear seats, and advanced safety features, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But the Quest is not without its merits. The Quest is for those who don’t need to cram a van up to the gills to go on a trip. If you don’t have a large family, travel light, or prefer to have a minivan that puts luxury over versatility, the Quest is an ideal option.