- Quiet and smooth ride
- Roomy and easily configurable seating
- Excellent continuously variable transmission (CVT)
- Sharp steering and handling
- Fold-flat second-row seats
- Less cargo space than competitors
- Seven-passenger maximum
- Short on interior storage
Despite (or maybe because of) its rather unique styling, the 2014 Nissan Quest often gets overlooked by minivan shoppers. That's too bad, because chances are most families would like the Quest if they gave it a chance. Thanks to its strong, seamless acceleration and relatively agile handling, the Quest is anything but a chore to drive, while long trips are taken in comfort thanks to its well-tuned suspension and relaxing seating.
Unlike pretty much every other minivan, the Quest's third-row seat folds down forward (rather than backward). The second-row seats do the same (like those in most crossover SUVs). This configuration makes it easier to switch the Nissan back and forth from passenger- to cargo-hauling duties than its more popular competition, which require manual removal of the second-row seats.
There are a few potential downsides to the Quest's seating configuration, however. Whereas most competitors offer a choice of either a three-passenger split bench seat or a pair of captain's chairs in the second row, the Quest offers only the latter. This makes for a maximum passenger capacity of seven, versus eight for those that offer a second-row bench. Also, those nifty flat-folding seats result in less maximum cargo space than rival minivans.
Whether the 2014 Nissan Quest is the right minivan depends on your requirements. If you don't need the ability to transport eight people and 108 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is adequate, then you'll likely enjoy the Quest's quick-change flexibility and enjoyable driving demeanor. If, however, you need more of a maximum minivan, then the traditional titans in this segment -- the 2014 Honda Odyssey and 2014 Toyota Sienna -- both offer eight-passenger seating and considerably more cargo capacity.
The 2014 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan cousins are also worth considering, as their space-efficient Stow 'n Go seating system allows it to be transformed similarly to the Quest while offering the greater cargo capacity of its rivals. But if passenger comfort and overall driving refinement are important to you, the 2014 Nissan Quest is well worth consideration.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
For 2014, the Nissan Quest receives no changes.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 Nissan Quest is a seven-passenger minivan offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and LE.
Standard features on the base S model include 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, ambient interior lighting and a four-speaker sound system with six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SV adds alloy wheels, foglights, power-sliding doors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a front-seat center console, a conversation mirror, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a 4-inch color display, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface. The SL further sweetens the deal with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, roof rails, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat and one-touch fold-flat third-row seats.
The range-topping LE tacks on xenon headlights, a blind-spot warning system, driver memory functions, a four-way power front passenger seat, power-return third-row seats, second- and third-row sunshades, advanced air filtration, an 8-inch display, a top-down camera system, a navigation system, a rear seat entertainment system and a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with Bluetooth audio connectivity and satellite radio.
A dual-panel sunroof is also available for SL and LE models.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Nissan Quest's cabin features an elegantly sweeping dashboard that smoothly blends into the door panels. The center stack's controls are logically grouped within easy reach of the driver. Even on the upper trim levels, the task of operating the various climate, navigation and entertainment systems proves simple and intuitive. Interior materials are above average in the lower trims, while the leather-appointed cabins in the SL and LE create a luxurious and serene environment. Even the CD player/radio features a classy aesthetic, with a simple faceplate and chrome-banded volume and tuning knobs.
Unlike the Odyssey or Sienna, which can accommodate three passengers in the second row when fitted with a split bench seat, the Quest offers only two captain's chairs, separated by a removable center console. This makes the Quest a seven-seater. The second-row seats slide and recline, however, and are quite comfortable. Like the third row, they also fold forward and flat, making it easier to carry big and bulky items than in a Sienna or Odyssey, both of which require you to physically remove their second-row seats.
The downside is that the Quest has considerably less cargo volume than the Odyssey and Sienna. Its taller floor limits it to 108 cubic feet of total cargo capacity, which is about 40 cubes shy of its rivals. The Quest's deep storage bin behind the third row also isn't as roomy, though its design still allows items to be stored there when that third row is folded down -- whereas competitors use that well to store their folded-down seats.
Ultimately, shoppers will have to decide whether the Quest's convenience and flexibility is worth the trade-off in maximum cargo space. Chrysler's Stow n' Go system offers a compromise: Its second and third rows are more difficult to lower than the Quest's, but they leave more cargo room after disappearing into the floor.
Standard safety features for all 2014 Nissan Quest models include antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat active head restraints. A rearview camera is standard on all but the base S trim level, though the LE is the only trim level with the top-down camera system and blind-spot monitoring system.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Quest earned the agency's top rating of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact collisions, and a second-best rating of "Acceptable" for roof strength. Its seats/head restraints earned a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Quest stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet -- slightly better than average for a minivan.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
A 3.5-liter V6 engine making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque powers the Nissan Quest. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission on the Quest and sends power to the front wheels. In Edmunds testing, the Quest accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, comparable to the Honda Odyssey but slower than the Toyota Sienna. Fuel economy is also on par, with an EPA estimate of 21 mpg combined (19 mpg city/25 mpg highway).
A Class II trailer package is available on all trim levels, and a properly equipped Quest can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is a decent amount for a minivan.
On nearly any road surface, the 2014 Nissan Quest silences wind and road noise, with ruts and bumps in the road ably absorbed by the compliant suspension. Overall ride quality is arguably the best of any current minivan. The steering is precise, but the effort level feels needlessly heavy at slow speeds. Even so, the steering gives the Quest an almost sporting feel around turns.
The V6 delivers capable power, and we even prefer the van's smooth CVT over competitors' traditional multi-geared automatic transmissions in this application. Quick reactions from the engine and transmission make it easy and pleasant to execute passing maneuvers or climb steep grades. The latter scenario is really the only time you're aware of the engine's steady-state drone -- a result of the CVT holding the V6 at a specific rpm to provide the best compromise of performance and efficiency.
Though understandably overshadowed by the titans from Honda and Toyota, the 2014 Nissan Quest is nonetheless a great choice for a minivan given its smartly designed interior and easy driving demeanor.