In its past, the Nissan Quest has some photos it doesn't want you to see. Remember your middle-school bangs, braces, and football socks? The Quest has in its past some needlessly curvy lines and an interior that made almost exactly no sense.
In the 2011 model year, Nissan dropped all the controversy when it moved the Quest to a new platform. And now it's a faintly hip-looking piece, though you'll always have to cadge that phrase with another one: "for a minivan."
It's hard to disguise boxy unless you just embrace it outright, and the Quest does so half the time. From the front, it does what it can to soften the size of the nose and pull it down visually to the road, with angled lines that curve softly into each other. In some ways, it almost looks like Ford's newest Focus, blown up to minivan scale. As it turns to the quarters and then to a full side view, the Quest goes full-tilt for a look pioneered by the Ford Flex--not terribly successfully, you could add--with big areas of "floating" glass and a resolutely horizontal theme. Big taillamps stud the Quest’s tail, and are faired for aerodynamics.
Inside, the Quest strays a lot less from the minivan norm, but you'd have to sum up the look as modern-retro Japanese, with its stacking of rectangles and plain-looking LCD displays. There’s a wide span of woodgrain trim across the dash for relief from the plastics, and it’s not too objectionable, but the shiny gray plastic surrounding the utilitarian-looking climate and audio controls doesn’t match it well. The transmission lever lines up vertically on the center stack, and it blocks the driver's view of some knobs and buttons.
Atop these controls, Nissan parks an LCD screen slots. The screen is offered on mid-level models, where it’s a simpler 4.3-inch LCD. On top models the screen grows to 8 inches and incorporates more audio and navigation controls. A deck of buttons sits at the screens’ feet, piano-key style. If you're not accustomed to playing, you'll wish you'd studied, as you figure out the Quest's audio controls.