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Nissan continues the Quest for a well-designed minivan

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang  | Sports | April 24th, 2006

In the world of conventional, everyday vehicles, sometimes a complete oddball hits the market that makes everyone say, “What is that?”

That was the sort of reaction created when the new Nissan Quest hit the market about two years ago.

It is a minivan, but it didn't look like anything on sale at the time, and even today there is nothing quite like it.

Style is a very personal opinion, and everyone can differ in their taste of what's appealing and what's not. Me, I have always liked the Quest. It looks wacky yes, but it gets your attention, and I think no other minivan is capable of doing that.

That unconventional design theme is carried into the interior too, however with rather unfavourable results.

The vehicle I had was a 2006 model, and since I know there are some differences to the 2007 model Quest, some of the comments won't apply, but I will talk about my test vehicle.

Climbing in, I immediately noticed two things, one that it looks very odd, and two that that it was made entirely by using cheap plastics.

I can't remember the last time I was in a vehicle that used so much grey plastic, and the texture felt very cheap to the touch. Not impressed.

Beyond that, even the layout was not to my liking. First is the centrally mounted instrumentation binnacle, which in this vehicle was a bit distracting. (However, this has been fixed for the 2007 model.)

Then there was the centre console, which looks like a cylinder. That would have been fine, but with all sorts of buttons haphazardly placed in it, plus the gear shifter also mounted on it, the cylinder was a bit annoying. On my test vehicle, there was no automatic climate control, and thus when I needed to change the fan speed while the gear-lever was in drive, it meant I had to twist my hand around the shifter. Just poorly positioned, I'm afraid.

I also thought the cup holders were poorly positioned, attached on the drivers seat, close to the floor.

This vehicle wasn't well thought out, but it is well equipped. My Special Edition model even had a DVD player for the rear-seat passengers, plus all the usual power operated features. It even had a power door on the passenger-side rear (should have had both power operated doors in the back, I'd say), and also a power-operated tailgate, which stopped working halfway through the week.

Not a very impressive vehicle so far, but I haven't told you about how it drives.

You see, this car shares its heart with the Nissan 350Z sportscar, and thus is quite powerful and quite fast. Ok, in this application it only has 240 hp, and was mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox, but still, the results are pretty fantastic.

This minivan is quick, so overtaking is never an issue. Surprisingly it also handles very well, and that for any vehicle of this size is a big feat to accomplish. Then there was the fuel-economy; I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. I averaged about 11.6 litres/100km, which is remarkable. Couple that with its big, comfy seats and it works well as a long distance vehicle.

So, while the Quest is not a quality product in the ways I was expecting it to be, it is quite a good vehicle in other areas.

Now we come to the price. A base Quest starts at $32,000, and my test vehicle was about $38,000. That is a lot of money for this to be honest, but I am sure your local dealer would be willing to discount it, since it is not one of the better selling vehicles on their grounds.

Final verdict. The Quests is very good in some areas but also very poor in others. Hope the 2007 model addresses the faults, because it does have the potential to be a really good vehicle, rather than just average.
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