Babble Best Picks:
2011 Minivans for the Family
Want to know the difference between all the minivans on the market? Babble asked me take each of them out for a spin to figure out which were best for which families. Most minivans got a thorough refresh this year, and many received better interior materials, more power, and higher fuel economy. After cargo capacity, safety is typically a minivan shopper's main concern. These large family haulers tend to do well on crash safety tests, and we included the results from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's independent crash test results. To find out what others thought, we added the Consumer Reports score and their Customer Satisfaction rating when available as well.
We hope you find this information helpful in your search for a family crossover. Don't see your favorite vehicle on the list? Nominate it here! - Liane Yvkoff
Best tech in minivan | 2011 Nissan Quest
FUEL ECONOMY: 18/24
No one really thinks of minivans as high-tech vehicles, but with power-sliding doors and auto-folding seats, they offer some of the best convenience features on the market. With its new keyless door system that lets you unlock and open doors without fumbling for keys, the 2011 Nissan Quest could be the unsung hero of tech advances.
Keyless entry is found on a handful of vehicles, but the 2011 Quest is the only minivan equipped with this super-convenient technology. When the keys are within proximity of the vehicle, a light touch on the handle will automatically unlock the door, and when the driver touches the handle of the rear doors or liftgate, they automatically slide open without any force. Push-button ignition start means keys never have to leave your pocket or purse.
Keeping families in mind, Nissan also added an Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) and a built-in air purifier. The intelligent HVAC system automatically turns on auto recirculation when it detects pollution or odors in the vehicle to filter the air.
SEATING + STORAGE
The rear cargo well has hinged covers that make it easier to stack groceries on top of sports equipment and help you maximize vertical storage space.
Unlike some minivans, the third-row seats fold forward rather than into the floor to open up 119.8 inches of cargo space. For families with lots of junk in the trunk, this means that you have the option of more floor space, and you won’t have to clear out the cargo area to get it. By the numbers, this layout loses a lot of vertical cargo capacity, but unless you’re moving a lot of tall items, you won’t miss it.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
The navigation system has one of the biggest screens (8″) and best graphics in its class and includes some of the more extensive business and points-of-interest databases in the market. For example, helping out drivers searching for a place to eat, restaurant listings include Zagat ratings. Unique for minivans, the Quest is equipped with Bluetooth audio, which lets you wirelessly stream music from a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device.
On the downside, there is only one (albeit large) 11″ video screen for the rear occupants and only two wireless headphones. Granted, lots of families have only two kids, but if they have three that means the movie will have to play through the vehicle’s 13 Bose speakers (which could still be pretty cool). A 120-volt outlet and USB in center console will help charge mobile devices.