New & Used Nissan Quest: In Depth
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The Nissan Quest is a minivan that's been sold in its current edition since the 2011 model year. It can transport as many as seven passengers, and has a more sprightly driving feel than some of the more portly minivans on the road today--the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey among them, as well as the revamped Kia Sedona, the Dodge Grand Caravan, and the Chrysler Town & Country.
Before the current Quest went on sale, two previous editions had managed the family-van duties for Nissan. Each of them was quite different from each other in specification and size.
See our review of the 2015 Nissan Quest for pricing with options, specifications, and gas mileage ratings.
The first Quest was launched in 1993 to replace the odd Axxess tall wagon. Aimed at the heart of the minivan market, it was powered by a 151-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic. While that first Quest minivan had decent space, the seating configuration wasn't particularly versatile compared to the best competitors. The third-row seat slid on a track, but none of its rear seats could be stowed under the vehicle's load floor.
A refreshed version was sold from 1999 through 2002, which built on the existing van but upgraded to a 170-hp, 3.3-liter V-6. This version included three rows of seating, but yet again, its interior space and ease of reconfiguration suffered in comparison to the rest of the segment. Filled with sub-par hard plastics, the interior wasn't very welcoming, but the second-generation Quest drove quite well, with a good ride and reasonably good handling. That said, its 3.3-liter never felt even as perky as its power figures might suggest.
Through 2002, when the second-generation Quest was discontinued, a slightly different version was sold as the Villager by Ford's now-discontinued Mercury brand. Compared to the Quest, the Villager had a slightly upmarket look, and in some cases the Villager could be bought with more equipment for less money than the Quest.
After a one-year absence, Nissan returned in 2004 with a completely new Quest. Much larger than the previous model, this one set a style statement that was completely unlike its predecessor or any other van on the market. Aiming for fashionista families, the Quest employed a flowing, organic exterior with an even more dramatic interior. In addition, seating was completely redone, with three rows of seating given a more luxurious look than that of other minivans. A conventional instrument panel was eschewed for a plasticky setup that included an oval-shaped, podlike center stack, housing climate controls and audio, with the shifter mounted up on the dash. Gauges were up in the center of the instrument panel, along with a trip computer screen or navigation screen.
Although slightly less functional, this was clearly the most stylish minivan on the market. But the new Quest was never well received. Its interior was functionally better, as both the second and third rows were made to fold flat into the floor. Those seats in back weren't that comfortable or supportive, though, and the one-piece third-row seat proved cumbersome. Safety proved to be an issue, too; even in 2009, electronic stability control still wasn't standard. But strengths included strong acceleration from the 235-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and smooth shifts from the five-speed automatic.
Nissan addressed some, but certainly not all, of the Quest's deficiencies in 2007, when it smoothed over the instrument panel, brought the gauges in front of the driver, upgraded interior materials, and introduced integrated headrests for the second and third rows that automatically tilted forward, making folding easier.
Most recently revamped for the 2011 model year, the Quest moved to a production line in Japan, in the process becoming a taller, narrower, less useful vehicle. The latest version suffers from a less flexible interior, less interior volume, and lower fuel economy than most of the competition.
Carried over mostly unchanged since it was launched for 2011, the Quest simply doesn't have the flexibility or features to compete with Chrysler's minivans. Its seats no longer fold into the floor, and they cannot be removed, making it the least adaptable minivan on the market. Its interior volume has fallen, because it's based on a Japanese-market minivan called the Elgrand, and the openings of the sliding side doors are narrower.
It performs better than its predecessor, however, with its 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and continuously variable transmission (CVT) powering a smaller, lighter vehicle. The Quest lacks some innovations found on other minivans in terms of infotainment features, and it's one of the few minivans to score less than a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it receives an "acceptable" ranking for roof-crush safety.