Looking for a decent used minivan?
I am and one of the models I’ve had a look at is the Nissan Quest, 2011 edition.
This is the fourth generation of Nissan’s people-carrier. The previous generation was, by the company’s admission, a bit of a disappointment. So they went back to the drawing board and redid just about everything, bringing the 2011 model out in mid-2010.
Power is supplied by Nissan’s ubiquitous VQ series V6, which displaces 3.5 litres and delivers 260 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. It’s mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission only. Performance for the 2,000-kg Quest is adequate but not earth-shattering. By this stage of the game, Nissan was fully committed to CVT technology and it’s arguable if this was the best transmission choice for this vehicle. Some like it, lots don’t.
This iteration of the Quest utilized Nissan’s D platform, which was also found in the crossover Murano, and Altima and Maxima sedans. It gave it good around-town handling and manoeuverability, with a comparatively tight turning radius. You can actually execute a U-turn in one go on most typical two-lane streets, and low-speed manoeuvres such as parking are straightforward and undemanding.
With seating for seven, and a unique hideaway rear storage compartment, this edition of the Quest also featured a stiffer body than its predecessor. It’s also wider, with a lower step-in height and improved fuel economy.
Like the one that came before it, the 2011 Quest was made in Japan, with a fairly high standard equipment level. Things like roof rails, heated outside mirrors, push-button start, fold-flat rear seats, first- and second-row centre console were standard issue.
And as you climbed up through the model range, you could get items like power sliding doors, power front seats, power rear tailgate, leather interior, Bluetooth, a navigation system, larger 18-inch wheels and tires, rear entertainment system, “panorama” power sunroof, window blinds, and on and on.
Four trim levels were offered and you could order Nissan’s blind-warning system, which alerts the driver, via a small mirror-mounted light, if there’s a car in their blind spot.
There’s one safety recall from Transport Canada to report. Apparently, on some vehicles, if you were decelerating or coasting down a hill and had less than a quarter of a tank of fuel, the engine could starve and stall out. That means a complete and instant loss of power. This was apparently due to a glitch in the fuel pump control program, and affected 2012 models as well. Nissan has since dealt with this problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. has some 14 technical service bulletins on file. These include a sometimes unresponsive cruise control, issues with the power door locks, “clicking, clunking, buzzing, thumping, or knocking” noises coming from the engine during acceleration, and problems filling up the gas tank.
There are some 30 complaints from owners, virtually all of which concerned numerous problems with the aforementioned low fuel level/wonky fuel pump. According to some owners, this problem could crop up at any time, including while you’re stopped at a traffic light. If you’re considering buying one, have this problem checked out.
Aside from the fuel pump problem, Consumer Reports liked – but didn’t love – this version of the Quest. It scored well in most areas, with the exception of the audio system and body hardware. CR gave it an “average” rating, observing that reliability of new models was a predicted 17 percent below average.
Comments from owners: “Lots of room for six passengers, with four passengers, lots of luggage room,” “feels supportive in the front seats” and “good power, pickup, and amenities for the price.”
Not one of the biggest sellers in the minivan market, a 2011 Quest seems to be selling for $5,000 to $8,000 now, depending on trim level and mileage.
2011 Nissan Quest
Original base price: $29,998
Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Horsepower/torque: 260 horsepower/ 240 foot-pounds
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.1 city and 8.1 highway, with regular gas
Some alternatives: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Volkswagen Routan, Kia Sedona
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).