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2011 Nissan Quest Performance

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Performance
The Quest's V-6 power has grown stronger, like some sort of Jedi combustion wonder, even though the 3.5-liter six is essentially the same powerplant as last year. Now rated at 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, the six sounds tamer than in other front-drive Nissans, with less rumble and roar.

With Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT), it poses the same question as the drivetrain in cars like the Altima, Sentra, Maxima and Murano. The gearless transmission uses pulleys to approximate gears. CVTs can be more efficient, but usually they feel rubbery and laggy, and exacerbate noise levels. Nissan's are among the best ever built, and in a minivan, it's easy to forgive the minor vibrations that come on when you floor the gas. It doesn't have the most responsive powertrain—the CVT has some preset "shift" points that simulate a six-speed automatic—but the Quest never feels strained.

With an independent suspension at all four corners, the Quest benefits from a smaller footprint than other minivans. It feels the most nimble of all its competitors, and in big part, that's due to the electrohydraulic steering. Using signals to direct the power steering's hydraulic pump instead of a belt, the Quest delivers the most natural steering feel of its class--though the electronic power steering in the Toyota Sienna is quite good, it doesn't rebound from inputs with the same relaxed feel. The Quest doesn't bound over long bumps like the Chrysler minivans, since its near-equal curb weight seems to be damped more effectively.

Without all the ad campaigns and gimmicks, the 2011 Nissan Quest simply drives better than most minivans.

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