The formerly forgettable Quest got a blockbuster generational makeover for 2004, shaking up the minivan establishment with avant-garde styling, a long list of features, and loads of interior space. Sharing basic FF-L platform elements and its 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 with the Altima, Maxima, and Murano, the 2005 Quest comes in four trim levels: the 3.5, 3.5S, 3.5SL, and 3.5SE. All are front-drive, and each step up adds standards and options that permit greater degrees of personalization. Questing for success in this evaluation was a fairly loaded 3.5 SE.
Penned at Nissan Design America in San Diego, California, the Quest breaks out of the soccer-mom milieu with distinctive body contours highlighted by an arching roof, rising “kinked” shoulder line, prominent fender flares, and flush glass from the B-pillar back. A long (124.0-in.) wheelbase, short overhangs, and a wide track add to its distinctive presence. At SE level, 225/60HR16 tires and steel wheels give way to 225/55HR17 rubber on 17-inch alloy rims.
Even bolder inside than out, the Quest embodies what Nissan calls an “urban loft” environment. The look begins with a low, flat dash that enhances forward visibility by placing the instrument cluster, including a 6.3-inch LCD display, in the center of the vehicle. A pedestal-like outcropping beneath the gauges holds the shift lever, center vents, audio and heat/air controls, plus the largest of many modestly scaled storage bins, open and covered, that are found throughout the cabin. With 211.0 cubic feet of total interior volume, this is one of the most spacious minivans you can buy. As standard minivan, the Quest can hold a 4×8-foot sheet of plywood with its large rear hatch closed. Standard seating includes just two front buckets. However, the Seat Package adds second-row Captain’s Chairs that tip and flip forward and away at the touch of a lever, plus a three-place, fold-flat third-row bench. Teamed with oversized sliding rear doors, the formula ensures easy access for both people and cargo. Suede cloth, manual front seats and an eight-speaker/150-watt AM/FM/CD sound system gives way to leather, power perches with a two-position memory, and a 10-speaker/265-watt Bose setup with six-disc CD changer in the 3.5 SE, a package that’s optional in the SL. Quest amenities include front and rear A/C, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless remote entry, cruise control, a tire pressure monitor, trip computer, overhead front console, variable speed wipers, eight cupholders, and four 12V power points. The 3.5S gains dual power sliding rear doors, a power liftgate, and sonar rear park assist, while the SL adds a power-adjustable driver’s seat and pedal set, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio/cruise control buttons, and rear-seat audio controls.
Dual-stage front airbags and side curtain bags are standard on all models, with front side bags available on 3.5SL and standard on 3.5SE. All Quests have traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, and a tire-pressure monitor. The SE adds stability control.
Nissan’s superb VQ 3.5-liter V-6 powers all Quest variants. Fitted with variable valve timing, this alloy twin-cammer makes 240-hp and 242 lb-ft of torque when fed premium unleaded gasoline, 230 and 238 on regular. It’s paired with a four-speed automatic transmission in the 3.5 and 3.5S, and mated to a five-speed autoshifter in 3.5SL and 3.5SE. All Quests come with traction control, and the SE also has Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system.
Behind the Wheel
Boasting one of the best V-6s in the world and an electronically controlled transmission that excels in seamless gear changes with minimal “hunting” on grades, the Quest is more than a match for virtually every traffic situation. It’s off-the-line quickness slips into mere respectability under heavy loads, where the 3.5SE’s 4,209-lb curb weight comes to the forefront. But on the road it can still hit 60 mph in less than nine seconds, and tote a 3,500-lb trailer with an optional tow package. A long wheelbase plus a well-sorted suspension with standard traction and stability controls give the Quest decent ride compliance and help it remain poised when the roads do get more challenging. Body roll is modest, and the tires audibly forewarn of the predictable push that accompanies enthusiastic cornering. Steering effort is a trifle high, but offers positive feel. And despite a 40.0-foot turning circle, the Quest maneuvers quite capably in tighter confines. The brakes–vented discs at all corners with ABS abetted by Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution–are well modulated and bleed speed with reassuring consistency.
Nissan’s precocious people mover is dynamically capable, impressively accommodating, and offers features that can make it a true home away from home for practical modernists of any age. However, its concept-car-like interior does raise some design issues in addition to meriting kudos for overall space and utility. The center-mounted instrument cluster heads the list, doing nothing to improve a driver’s ability to monitor speed, rev count, or warning lights. Undersized LCD readouts for fuel and water temperature are prone to wash out in bright sun, and the dash itself creates major reflections across the entire windshield under certain lighting conditions. Despite good accessibility, the horizontal orientation of the controls on the center pedestal can make adjustment somewhat awkward. Firmish yet comfortable, the Quest’s front seats are light on lateral support. Ditto the captain’s chairs, although with three inches of fore/aft travel, they make the third-row a viable alternative for two adults. The rear bench can be rotated 90 degrees for use as a tailgate party perch, but its single-piece design and weight detract from its utility and increases the effort required to reconfigure. Admittedly iconoclastic, all Quest models save for the feature-rich but somewhat pricey SE earn better-than-average value marks from IntelliChoice. A prudently optioned SL would likely deliver the most bang for the buck.
A mobile bastion of room and relaxation for discerning free-thinkers, the Quest could well be the ideal minivan for those who not only dare to be–but live to be–different.
- What’s HotBold stylingMulti-panel Skyview roofSpacious, versatile passenger cabin What’s NotStyling too bold for someInterior design, style quirksSingle-piece third-row bench
All-new in 2004, the 2005 Quest adds a power sliding right rear door, power rear quarter windows, power liftgate, and a rear sonar system to the 3.5S model plus overhead mood lighting, active front seat head restraints, and a security system across the lineup.
Prime extras include the Seat Package, SL Upgrade (heated front seats, front side air bags and rear park assist), SL Leather and Bose Package, Skyview Roof–a conventional power sunroof plus four fixed-glass panels over the rear seats and a full-length overhead console (standard SE/optional SL), Navigation system with seven-inch color display (SL/SE), and DVD entertainment systems with a remote, wireless headphones and single (base/S) or dual (SL/SE) seven-inch video screens.