Nissan’s all-new minivan celebrates parenthood

Nissan has given the much-maligned minivan a major boost with the all-new fourth generation Quest.

Yes, it is an impressive vehicle.

But even more impressive is Nissan’s desire to transform the minivan segment into a celebration of parenthood.

For much of the past decade minivans have been perceived as the transportation symbol of adulthood and the surrendering of youth and fun.

The all-new Quest is designed to change that perception with a vehicle that “gets parenting.”

In addition to a new design, the new Quest includes a long list of “innovative functionality” features that frankly, I wish were available when my kids were little.

One of the first things I noticed during my weeklong test drive was the Intelligent Key feature. I never once had to take the key fob out of my pocket. By touching the handle, the door unlocks (it works the same to lock the door).  Once inside, push a button to start and stop the vehicle.

Thinking back to my younger days, that is a feature that would have been very handy remembering all the times I had to fumble for the keys while trying to carry kids, diaper bags, etc.

In addition to the one-touch sliding rear doors, the step-in height accessing the rear seats is also several inches lower than other models, making it a lot easier for small children — as well as adults — to get in and out of the second and third row seats.

There is also a walk-in device for access to the third row seats, which is a huge improvement for anyone that has ever had to contort their way to the back.

I also enjoyed the quick release fold-flat second and third row seats. Unlike other models, the third row folds forward, making it a snap to have a flat floor surface for additional cargo space without having to take the seats out and stow them in the garage when you need to haul large items.

Unfortunately, there’s not enough space in this column to list all of the new features, but it is certainly worth visiting your local Nissan dealer to take a test drive. Be sure to bring all the kids.

Standard safety features on the new Quest includes dual front airbags, front-seat mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact aibags, front seat active head restraints, LATCH child seat anchor system, child safety rear door locks, tire pressure monitoring system with easy fill tire alert, available blind spot warning system and vehicle dynamic control with traction control system.

The new Quest is available in four trim levels — S, SV, SL and LE.

All are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine generating 260 horsepower and 240 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a CVT transmission, the front-wheel drive, seven-passenger Quest has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.

The base S trim level (base price starting at $27,750) includes a long list of standard features, which defies the word “base.”

Nissan has done a nice job with making a Quest that truly celebrates the family. For those in the market for a minivan, it’s worth a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Nissan Quest

7-seat minivan 

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

S, SV, SL, LE

PRICE RANGE:

$28,000-$43,000

ENGINE:

3.5-L V6 (260 hp/240 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

CVT

EPA: 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

FUEL: Regular unleaded

TRACTION CONTROL:

Vehicle dynamic control and traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 200.8 inches

WHEELBASE: 118.1 inches

WIDTH: 77.6 inches

HEIGHT: 73 inches

WEIGHT: 4367-4548 lbs.

TRACK: 68.1/67.7

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 20 gallons

TIRES: 16-, or 18-inch

CARGO: 37.1*/63.6/108.4 cubic feet (behind 3rd/2nd/1st seating rows)

* Includes under floor luggage area