The Quest used to have one of the most flexible interiors of all minivans. In its latest edition, it's simply lost some of the usefulness that we expect from a family vehicle.
In terms of overall length and wheelbase, the Quest isn't that much smaller than the Chrysler minivans, the Toyota Sienna, or the Honda Odyssey. At 200.8 inches long, on a 118.1-inch wheelbase, it's reasonably close to those competitors in almost every dimension. Where it loses out is interior volume: its fixed seats take up space where a good fold-away third-row seat would leave a flatter cargo floor--and where the Chrysler vans' fold-away second-row seats would win the functionality wars, every time.
The Quest has few other flaws, from the front seats on back. There's ample leg room and head room, and large adults will fit comfortably in its plushly upholstered buckets. The view ahead reminds us a lot of the first Japanese minivans that came to the U.S. in the 1980s, with a flat dash structure that makes for easy entry and exit, along with wide doors.
The trouble starts in the second row, where the Quest's sliding side doors don't retract enough for adults to clamber up and into the seats with ease. It can be difficult to maneuver a car seat into the opening--never mind a kid with a mind of their own. The Quest lacks a middle seat position, which means the other eight-passenger minivans have a one-seat advantage over it. The Quest's third-row seat is cramped for adults, acceptable for kids.
In either the second or third rows, the seats themselves are nicely angled and supportive, but they don't move--the seatbacks just fold over when more cargo area is needed. That more than anything makes the Quest feel as small as it is inside, that and its relatively high load floor. The seats fold easily enough, thanks to levers and pull straps. However, if you order the power assist for the third-row seat, know that it stops short of raising the seat all the way. Oddly, it gives up at the vertical position, leaving owners to use a cloth strap to finish the job.
Since the seats no longer store in the floor, as they did in the old Quest, cargo volume is way down. In all, the Quest has 35 cubic feet behind its third-row seats, 64 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 108 cubic feet with the second row folded. The next Kia Sedona has folding second-row seats like the Quest—but still offers up 32 cubic feet, 80 cubic feet, and 142 cubic feet of space. The Chryslers have their class-leading, fold-in-the-floor seats on some models—and with them, they can boast of 33 cubic feet, 83 cubic feet and 144 cubic feet, respectively. The humongous Sienna has 39 cubic feet, 87 cubic feet, and as much as 150 cubic feet of space with the second-row seats folded up and the third row tucked away, respectively. The Odyssey has 38 cubic feet, a vast 93 cubic feet, and 149 cubic feet of space behind the respective rows.
Other compromises are less noticeable, but they're there. There's no telescoping steering wheel with the Quest, though the high seating position makes the most of the situation. It offers up 16 cup and bottle holders, though the pop-out pair under the radio are big enough only for cans.