More Test Driving

The local Nissan dealership lied to us on Saturday when they said that no one in the area had a new Quest yet. Not a big surprise, really; those guys seemed awfully shady. We spent our lovely Monday holiday in Warwick, RI, about 30 minutes away, enjoying some of the big box stores that are scarce in our little beach town. Out of curiosity, we stopped at the Warwick Nissan dealer, and whaddaya know, they’ve got one on the lot. Exactly one. They’ve had it about a week. The salesman doesn’t know anything about it yet, but he lets us take it for a spin.

The Quest has a couple of things going for it before we even climb inside. For one, we’re both of the opinion that it looks so much better than the Honda or any other van out there. It may not be a universally appealing style, but it looks interesting, not just another anonymous kidmobile. We had been intrigued by the style just looking at online images, and in person it didn’t disappoint. Second, we both have owned and enjoyed Nissans/Infinitis; we like Nissan as a company and are biased towards wanting to own a Nissan rather than a Honda. So, we very much wanted to like the Quest, wanted it to be as good as the Odyssey.

It performed well on the drive. It has the Nissan CVT transmission so it is very smooth. It feels more in touch than the Honda. We agree that the driving experience is superior to the Odyssey. Much less of a compromise.

However. (Sigh.) We nearly immediately ruled it out. It just wasn’t made with triplets in mind. It’s a 7 seater, captain’s chairs in the middle row, instead of the Odyssey’s 8 with the middle row bench seats – which isn’t in itself a deal breaker, but there is exactly one configuration for three child seats. There is only one mount in the back row, when really we’re going to need two in the back (or, possibly with the Honda, all three in the middle). Why two in the back? Think about it… those car seat bases are more or less permanently mounted, and so if you have one mounted in a middle row seat, that seat loses part or all of its folding ability, and if you can’t fold the seat properly, you have a lot of trouble getting past that seat and into the back row. Even managing to install a second seat in the back row without a built in mount, the interior just isn’t very versatile. The middle row seats don’t flip forward to make it easy to get to the back, like they do in every other van we crawled through at that auto show, and you can’t remove the seats at all. There is some weirdness to it, like the rear sliding doors don’t open wide enough. They feel like they need to slide another 6 inches to fully open the door. And we can’t figure out how to get the DVD screen to even open up without the remote, and you know that remote is going to disappear under a seat basically immediately. Also, I just cannot figure out how we’d get a 5 foot long (when collapsed!!) triplet stroller into the Quest.

The things we like about the Quest, then, are the grown-up-oriented things. The selfish things. How it looks and how it feels to drive and how we feel about the manufacturer. On the kid/family things, the Odyssey clearly wins. And those are the important things now. Therefore, Honda wins. And unless we have some sort of epiphany, there’s no other minivan we want to look at.

Monday’s bonus drive: (previous generation) Infiniti QX.

Now, I’ve done some soul searching and decided I would rather drive a minivan than a monster SUV. However, for a while, we were thinking we might both need to trade up to big people carriers, so at that auto show, we were exploring all of the 3rd-row-equipped SUVs as well as vans. The clear winner for us was the Nissan Armada. We looked a little bit at pre-owned Armadas and discovered that the Infiniti version, also pre-owned, wasn’t really that much more expensive. The Warwick Infiniti dealer had a previous generation on their lot, and we drove it on Monday too. (Well, Brendon drove it. I declined.)

Its most noticeable trait: it’s humongous. It feels like a bus. Way different from the minivans. It isn’t necessarily slow, and Brendon even likes the way it drives (considering its bigness), but the fuel consumption is brutal. It is very nice inside, though – it is a luxury vehicle, after all. Heated steering wheel? Yes, please.

More triplet-suitability problems here, though. Primarily, there are only two car seat mounts. I’m pretty sure its lower-class sibling, the Nissan, did have more. It didn’t seem like it would be very easy to get a small child from outside of the car into the back row, and the space behind the back row was smaller than I remembered the Armada’s being. We may do more research and find out if the Armada is more versatile, or if there are seating options that were available and just not included in this particular QX, but really right now we’re leaning toward just getting the minivan and letting Brendon keep his current car.

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One Response to More Test Driving

  1. Cheryl Wilson says:

    I just read an article in the WSJ from a woman expecting triplets looking for a vehicle and she mentioned a Ford model that would accommodate 3 baby seats in the middle row. I can’t remember the name of the model but Ford probably only has one that fits that criteria.

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