A Quest for the Holidays – The 2012 Nissan Quest

by Michael Sheehan on December 22, 2011

in Auto, Family, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Opinion, Review, Video

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I sit in a darkened cafe. About a block away, packs of people are streaming into the San Francisco Opera House as part of a holiday tradition that goes back decades. Dressed up with kids in tow, they are off to see the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker. I have seen the Nutcracker ever since I was a small child. It was an event that symbolized the holidays for me. Now, it has a different meaning altogether for me, and this year, there has been a car that has really made the difference for me and my family – the 2012 Nissan Quest.

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A few weeks ago, I was given the 2012 Nissan Quest to drive for 2 weeks as part of an outreach program to bloggers around the country. We were ask to essentially embark on a “Holiday Quest” and we have been tagging our social activities with the hashtag #HolidayQuest. Nissan kindly donated not only the Quest for two week, but they also are donating $500 to a charity of our choice and provided us with $500 “holiday money” to help us take that hard edge off of the holiday season. And a few days ago, Nissan gave out 5 prizes of $1000 to some lucky Twitterers who participated in a Nissan Quest TweetUp!

For our family, the Quest became our transportation of choice, and boy did we have a lot of driving to do. When I checked the odometer at the end of my 2 weeks, it seems that we have gone almost 1000 miles just around the San Francisco Bay Area and most of the driving has been to holiday-related activities.

We used the Quest to go to holiday piano recitals as well as holiday dances for my younger two daughters. But probably most of the mileage has come from the back and forth from our home to San Francisco Ballet – the reason being, my oldest daughter, who is 12, is performing two roles in the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker, that of a dragonfly and also, the main role of Clara. Clara is the girl in the Nutcracker who receives the toy nutcracker and then has a dream sequence that spans the rest of the performance.

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The Nissan Quest became our luxurious ballerina limousine that shuttled my daughter to and from rehearsals, ballet school and also to performances. But the quest became much more than just the limo, it also:

  • Was a movie theater for my wife while she waited
  • Became a bedroom for my younger kids as they came back from seeing a performance
  • Was the “mommy taxi” during the day, providing roundtrip rides to and from school, piano practice, tap lessons and other kid activities
  • Transformed into a massive shopping cart to the grocery store, Target, Costco and other shopping venue
  • Allowed for pick-ups for play dates to happen with the 7 seating occupancy

I had to beg and fight to get time to drive. And each time I did, it was relaxing and soothing…with one exception, tonight, the night that I’m writing this article because we were stuck in traffic trying to get to the performance in time for make-up and hair to be done for the night’s performance. But we made it with moments to spare. In the video a bit later on in the article, you can see a quick shot that I took right next to the Opera House and near San Francisco City Hall. It was just too perfect of a spot to show the culmination of our #HolidayQuest and the Nissan Quest.

There are several features of the Nissan Quest that I feel families would really appreciate. And remember, mini-vans are pretty much geared for families. Some of the notable features:

  • 3 zone climate control – I like having my driving area cooler than my wife’s. The front of the Quest allows for dual climate controls. And there is a rear area climate control as well to keep the kids nice and cozy as they snooze off at night. But the climate control system had more than that. There are heated front seats as well as an advanced filtration system which removed allergens.
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  • Entertainment system – the XM satellite system remained tuned to the “Hits” station and we heard many of the same songs in perfect digital sound, over and over and over and over and…you get the picture. But also, my wife appreciated the fact that she could catch up on her classic movie viewing while waiting for my oldest daughter. While parked, movies could be view on the 8″ center display. Also an 11″ DVD monitor which is motorized can be lowered from the roofline for kids to watch in the back seats. The model that we had, the LE, had a Bose audio system with 13 speakers and XM Satellite Radio.
  • Navigation system – while we knew exactly where we were going at all times, what I particularly liked was gauging the arrival time to our destination to make sure, for example, that we hit the curtain call (or hopefully before that!). I particularly liked the Voice Guidance system and the navigation voice (which was a soft and soothing female voice – quite a change from the screaming kids in the back).
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  • Bluetooth – it’s critical this day and age to pair your mobile phone with a speaker phone system and the Quest allows for this so that you can drive and talk on the phone safely, hands-free.
  • Multiple Push-Button Entries – I commented on this early on via Twitter that I love the fact that as long as you have the keyfob/dongle in your pocket and are near the door, you can open any door simply by touching a button on that door. The front door buttons allow you to unlock one door or all of them, the sliding doors slide open at a button push as well, as does the hatchback which opens too with warning sounds. Using the keyless keyfob, you can open all of the sliding doors and the rear hatch as well. Similarly, there are buttons within the Quest itself to allow you to open the sliding doors from the driver’s console or next to the sliding doors themselves. Another nice thing, which we happened to discover quite by accident was that it is pretty much impossible to lock the keyless keyfob in the car. I tried one time and the car made a series of beeps, indicating that the keyfob was INSIDE of the car.
  • 14 Drink Holders – this is something that my kids actually counted out and told me about. They were simply amazed at the number.
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  • Voice Command – since my wife and kids seldom listen to me, it was nice to find something that did. The Quest comes equipped with a variety of commands that let you control phone calls as well as issue other helpful commands.
  • Amazing Turning Radius – this was something that I discovered early on. I was able to make a U-turn in an area that my other cars almost couldn’t. It was quite shocking actually how tight I could make the turn. This makes navigation around the city really great, especially if you are searching for that elusive parking spot that opens on the other side of the street.
  • Blind Spot Warning – when you are used to smaller cars and get into a larger one, sometimes you don’t notice the new (and sometimes larger) blind spots of your vehicle. The Quest has Blind Spot Indicators built into the side view mirrors. If there is a car in your blind spot, it is shown in orange on the mirror. And, if you have your blinkers on to show that you are going to turn into a lane AND the indicators are orange, an audible alert is heard telling you that it is not safe to turn. This saved me a few times.
  • Help when Backing Up – not only is there a rear-view camera that shows what is directly behind you on the display, also the side view mirrors tilt down slightly to give you a better view of the curb. Subtle but nice!
  • Safety Galore – an important thing with a vehicle that transports your family around is safety. The Quest has 6 standard air bags including curtain side-impact supplemental airbags that provide head protection for those in the back. There are ABS breaks as well as electronic brake force distribution (EBD) which ensure that when you need to brake, you have all of the resources to do so.
  • Storage for Everything – not only can the 2nd and 3rd row seats be folded flat easily to provide a ton of storage, there are many compartments to hold smaller items. In the rear cargo area ,there are 2 wells where you can stow even more items.
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  • Luxury – the LE model had some great leather (and let me tell you, if you have kids, leather is the way to go, simply because mopping up spills on the seats is a heck of a lot easier). But the Quest was also very quiet when on the road. It was easy to hold a conversation with someone in the back because the road noise is clearly dampened. There are many other refinements like wood trim and leather wrapped steering and automatic shifter. And here’s a nifty little feature that I would throw into the luxury column, if you need to fill up your tires with air, the horn beeps when you reach the proper pressure.
  • Conversation Mirror – this was a nice surprise as I was looking for a place to put my sunglasses and found a conversation mirror in its place instead. This allows you to talk to passengers and see them without having to take your eyes off of the road.
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Here is a little video that showcases some of the pictures that you see throughout this review. Also, you can see the full Flickr Set that has full sized images here.

[iframe_loader width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cgUw05enZM4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]

For those of you interested in what’s under the hood and other mechanical aspects, here you go:

  • 260 horsepower V6 DOHC 24-valve engine
  • 240 lb-ft of torque at 6000 RPMs
  • Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) – this is an interesting “new” feel to the engine in that you don’t really feel the gears shift like you do with traditional automatics
  • Push-button starter
  • Front Wheel Drive
  • 18″x7″ aluminum allow wheels (on the LE)
  • Smart on/off High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
  • 19 miles to the gallon City and 24 Highway

Whew, if you made it this far, you definitely have a quest to learn more about the Nissan Quest. The video below walks through a few more highlights, some explained by my kids even:

[iframe_loader width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EhNCl-_DBgQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]

As part of the #HolidayQuest program, Nissan kindly gave us $500 to donate to a charity of our own choosing. My family and I chose to donate to Doctors Without Borders so that somebody else’s #HolidayQuest would be a healthier one!

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Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. Nissan provided a 2-week loan of the 2012 Nissan Quest as well as gift card for my family as we used the vehicle and a contribution to a charity of my choice. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.    

HTD says: Thanks for joining us in our holiday quest. The 2012 Nissan Quest definitely made my holidays a bit easier!

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