Driving around in a minivan, we should have been shamed by this example of suburban utility transportation, completely devoid of the kind of fun driving character we crave. Yet the 2011 Nissan Quest's exterior design helped distract onlookers from its essential minivan-ness.
With its angular headlights that fit into the grille structure like jigsaw puzzle pieces, contoured sides, and vertical, squared-off rear hatch, people were more apt to call the World Weekly News and report the presence of time travelers from the year 2078 than jeer and laugh at the automotive journalists forced to trundle around in a family car.
That rear cargo hatch opens up on a space seemingly designed to hold multiple refrigerators. We were also pleased to find, underneath the load floor, a deep, deep well, suitable for smuggling crates of moonshine.
And despite the Quest's size, maneuvering around San Francisco's narrow, twisting lanes proved easy due to the extreme turning radius. The continuously variable transmission, something Nissan does better than any other car company, milked the appropriate amount of power from the engine for all situations.
But the Quest is not all cake and ice cream. Our test model was one trim level short of the top, yet navigation was not even an option. And where Honda and Toyota deploy dual-view rear-seat entertainment systems in their minivans, Nissan sticks the Quest with a single-view monitor, meaning the little ones will have to draw straws, or engage in a cage match, to determine what to watch.
Read our review of the 2011 Nissan Quest SL.