2011 Nissan Quest LE
2011 Nissan Quest LE. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2011 Nissan Quest

My name is Peter and I like minivans.

I’ve owned two. If I were to raise another family (ha!), I’d buy one. I tell my domesticated friends who are looking at crossovers to buy minivans. They tell me where to get off.

There. I’ve said it.

While minivans will forever remain terminally uncool, Nissan, a company never afraid to go out on a stylistic limb, is doing its part to help ease the pain. The all-new fourth-generation 2011 Quest is a funky looking rig, and one that will surely have the tongues a waggin’ at the schoolyard.

Sure, it’s a big box on wheels, but it comes across as intriguingly post-modern retro with its steeply raked windscreen, slab sides and wrap-around greenhouse that is part Jules Verne and part 50s Chevy Nomad. Jeez, it might even be cool.

2011 Nissan Quest LE
2011 Nissan Quest LE
2011 Nissan Quest LE. Click image to enlarge

And there is a minivan market out there, despite Ford, GM and Hyundai bailing from the segment. The Dodge Grand Caravan was Canada’s #3 seller in 2010, and both Toyota and Honda have introduced all-new Dad-illacs for 2011.

But maybe it’s time to retire the “minivan” handle. There is nothing mini about the seven-seat 2011 Quest, which my 13 year-old daughter dubbed the Big Blob of Beige (BBB). While its footprint matches most competitors, the BBB’s 1855 mm height has it towering over the Grand caravan by 100 mm. Headroom is more than generous. Compared to the Toyota Sienna, there’s an additional 70 mm of airspace for your beehive or Stetson.

Built on an expanded Murano/Maxima platform, power comes from Nissan’s venerable VQ 3.5-litre V6, making 260 hp, 240 lb.-ft. and driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

While the exterior may be rad, the inside is trad, and lovingly rendered here in top-line LE trim with supple leather, soft-touch surfaces, and wood-like trim. It’s a swanky, Infiniti-class cabin that makes the competitors look low-rent.

2011 Nissan Quest LE
2011 Nissan Quest LE. Click image to enlarge

An ergonomic misgiving is the dash-mounted shifter that partially obstructs the audio and HVAC controls.

The first and second-row captain’s chairs are supremely comfortable (there is no second-row bench option) and the flip-up third row (powered in the LE) is habitable by smallish humans. If there are complaints, the riders are so far back you may not hear them anyway.

They can also be drowned out by the LE-standard a 9.3-gig infotainment system with 13 Bose speakers.

Parched passengers are in luck. I counted sixteen cup holders.

Other niceties in this $48,498 blinged-out behemoth include 18-inch alloys, powered side doors and lift gate, navigation system with an eight-inch display, rear-seat DVD entertainment, blinds for the rear side windows, Nissan’s new air-scrubbing advanced climate-control system, blind-spot warning, and xenon headlamps, Topping it off, literally, was the $2,000 dual moonroof package.

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