A macho minivan? At Home Depot, there’s no question

Automotive News | April 3, 2012 - 10:08 am EST

Minivans have a bad rap. I am out to change that, starting now.

I hereby swear that the Nissan Quest is one bad-ass mother-hauler.

You probably think that I’ve been snorting Desitin. But I can tell you that my crumb-cruncher collector was the envy of the Home Depot parking lot.

One recent weekend, my wife and I were going to tear up a section of our quarter-acre back yard. Our goal was to repurpose a possum playpen into something habitable for people sipping frosty beverages under canvas umbrellas.

This task coincided with the every-spring necessity to amend our soil, which has a clayish consistency unfriendly to plants and trees. In short, it was going to be a big Saturday.

I hopped in the Quest and rolled down to Ho-Do, rockin’ out to Alt Nation on the satellite radio. I grabbed one of those wobbly orange heavy-duty carts and headed for the garden center. My itemization: A half-ton of paving stones, 20 cubic feet of soil amendment, 20 cubic feet of bark mulch and 10 cubic feet of steer manure. The cart --and I -- groaned and buckled under the strain.

I thought, if a burly guy like me is struggling, this load of stuff is going to break the Quest.

But no, the Quest gobbled up the load like the feisty raccoon that raids my compost bin. The multilink rear suspension gave a mere shrug at the weight of the paving stones, and still rode level. The 50 cubic feet of soil, bark and moo-poo, though assaulting to my nose, were hardly insulting to the Quest’s cavernous interior layout. The load didn’t even reach the bottoms of the minivan’s windows.

Impressed by the Quest’s packaging, I closed the power liftgate. I turned around to see two other weekend warriors loading up their uber-manly vehicles. I won’t name nameplates. Let’s just say one was derived from a celestial event, the other from a cowboy play-date. Both were two-wheel drive. Poseurs.

These urban dads had far less loaded into their carts, but were struggling to fit their loads into their poorly packaged rock-stompers.

One of the men, trying to rescue his pride while balancing two wriggling flats of petunias on his paunch, snarked, “Nice minivan.” I calmly retorted, “It’s got lots of room still. You need me to take the rest of your stuff in my Quest?”

His reply is unprintable, but the ensuing slouch in his shoulders indicated that he was the beaten man.

Mark Rechtin is West Coast editor of Automotive News.Mark Rechtin is West Coast editor of Automotive News.

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