2013 Nissan Quest continues in tradition of great driving minivans

From its bold styling with full surround glass

From its bold styling with full surround glass to its extensive list of family-friendly features and innovations, the 2013 Nissan Quest gets parenting better than any other minivan. (Credit: Cars.com / Nissan)

Nissan hasn't changed much about the Quest minivan since I last reviewed it in 2012. In that review, the Quest's third row was just a novelty for my brood. As a family of four, the Quest was perfect for us; it was luxurious and had all the technology and safety perks a family could want. However, with the addition of baby No. 3 to my family, the Quest's third row went from nice-to-have to must-have.

Unfortunately, the third row's narrow seats moved the 2013 Nissan Quest down a few notches on my list of favorite minivans. Trust me, as a mom of three small children, there's a list.

Despite my frustrations with the third row, I still enjoyed the 2013 Quest. It's quirky but sleek exterior allowed me to hold my head up high -- even when I pulled up next to the cool family that's still squeezing their kids into a Mini Cooper. Also, Nissan has one of my favorite safety features, the Around View Monitor, which offers a bird's-eye view of the minivan's exterior.


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Without question, the seven-seat Quest is my favorite minivan to drive. Not only does it glide over bumps in the road, but it has more than enough power with its 3.5-liter V-6 engine to pull its weight -- even when packed to the gills with children and child-safety seats.

The 2013 Nissan Quest S base model is going to set you back $26,835, including an $845 destination charge. My test car was the top-of-the-line LE trim. With the bump in features also comes a bump in price to $42,460. While it may seem like a pretty penny for a minivan, the Quest's price is in line with its competitors.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 Quest keeps its boxy shape; the look debuted with its 2011 redesign. The funky exterior is polarizing; people either love it or hate it. Thankfully I am one of those that love its distinctive rocket-ship-like design. While there is no disguising that it's a people-mover, it is one of the most luxurious-looking minivans on the market.

The more I test-drive family-friendly minivans, the more I love them. All of the Quest's trim levels except the base S have dual power sliding doors. Being able to open the sliding doors with a push of a button and have two out of my three kids climb into their child-safety seats without a nudge or a lift from me puts a smile on my face. The one-touch power liftgate, which comes standard on the SL and LE trims, is another feature I don't want to live without.

Unlike its competitors, the Quest's second- and third-row seats fold flat, creating a continuous load floor. There's also a deep well behind the third-row seats that can be used even when the seats are folded. Behind the third row, there's 25.7 cubic feet of space. When the third-row seats are folded, there's 63.6 cubic feet. Fold the second row and there's 108.4 cubic feet. It sounds impressive, but that's less cargo space than its competitors. The Toyota Sienna wins the minivan space race with 150.0 cubic feet when all seats are folded and 39.1 cubic feet when all seats are in use.

The 2013 Quest has a 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that's paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg city/highway and uses regular unleaded gasoline. During my weeklong test drive of mostly city driving, I averaged 18 mpg.

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

INTERIOR

The Nissan Quest LE has an interior quality that is on par with those found in its luxury sibling, Infiniti. The spa-like leather seats and chrome accents on the dash helped me almost forget that I had chicken nugget boxes and fruit-snack wrappers under my feet. Almost.

Nissan deserves major kudos for its intuitive navigation and audio systems. I especially liked the way the large, easy-to-read buttons were laid out.

With three rows of seats, my family of five had plenty of room. Even with three child-safety seats, including one rear-facing car seat, we weren't begging for more legroom, which is quite a feat. However, the second- and third-row seats seem to sit slightly lower than in other minivans. The second row has two captain's chairs and a removable center console, and the third row has three seating positions.

To help keep the kiddos happy, the Quest LE has standard manual side-window sunshades for the second and third rows. This was great for my older daughters, who have recently become little vampires, writhing in pain whenever the sun hits their faces. Unfortunately, the shades aren't offered on lower trim levels. A DVD entertainment system with two wireless headphones was standard on the LE and available on the SE and SV trims.

While I appreciate the Quest's luxury offerings, there are a few little luxuries that need some tweaking. The first is the too-small conversation mirror. Other than confirming that yes, my passengers haven't jumped ship, it's too small to see whether my littlest passengers are awake or even if they're still buckled up -- let alone converse with them. The second is the Quest's storage bins -- both size and quantity. For a minivan, they need to be bigger and there needs to be more of them.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SAFETY

Nissan's Around View Monitor, which is standard on the Quest LE, is a huge step up from a backup camera. With the click of a button, you can see all around your car on one screen. This comes in handy when parallel parking or when backing out of a driveway that has lots of kids and their various paraphernalia nearby. Instead of just noticing when little Timmy is smack dab behind your minivan, you can see him as he is running alongside of it -- before he runs behind it to fetch his ball.

The 2013 Quest also has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, a blind spot warning system and six airbags, including side curtains for all three rows.

There are three sets of lower Latch anchors in the 2013 Quest, with two sets in the second row's captain's chairs and a third set in the third row. Both our forward- and rear-facing child-safety seats fit well in the second row and didn't take up the front passenger's legroom. My preschooler is in a booster seat, so we set her up in the third row. Unfortunately, the seats were too narrow and her booster covered up the seat belt buckle, leaving us to reach over the second row and scoot her booster seat over to buckle (and unbuckle) her every time. That got old real quick.

In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Quest received the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear tests. It earned the second highest score of Acceptable in the roof-strength test, and it hasn't been undergone IIHS' latest small overlap crash test, which simulates a car's front corner hitting a tree or a pole. The 2013 Quest hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffics Safety Administration.

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