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A MINIVAN FOR THE 21st CENTURY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Feb 28, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Nissan Quest 3.5SE

A MINIVAN FOR THE 21st CENTURY By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

Nissan engineers and designers have done their homework well by incorporating all that made the Chrysler Town & Country my choice, and then adding Nissan's new powerful, quiet and silky smooth 3.5 liter V6 power plant, an independent suspension, and unique Nissan exterior/interior design cues featured in several of their news car.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

With its long 124-inch wheelbase, 77.6-inch width and 67.3-inch front and rear track, Quest offers one of the largest interior volumes of any front-wheel drive minivan.  This fact also adds to Quest smooth and comfortable ride.  Overall interior volume is 211.9 cu.ft., as well as ample cargo space behind the second row and third row seats.  Quest's sliding door openings measure 33.8 inches, over 4 inches longer than the competition.  The wide door openings plus Quest's second row seat 'tip up' feature addresses one of consumers most frequent complaints - easily getting into and out of the third row.  Quest's new Fold-Away seats easily fold flat with the third row dropping into a storage well in the floor behind.  You can carry several 4 x 8 feet sheets of plywood if you like.  Another Quest innovation is the available 'SkyView', a series of 4-glass roof windows with shades that help enhance the use of natural light throughout the vehicle.  A full-length rear overhead console, available with the SkyView, offers increased functions creating an aircraft-like interior environ-ment with personal reading lamps, and air vents.  The overhead console includes heating and cooling vents, reading lamps, sunglass bins, and also houses the available DVD entertainment system's dual color display screens.  The large and well-appointed interior feels like you're sitting in a modern, urban loft space. On the outside, the Quest arching roofline transitions seamlessly off of the A-pillar, with a strong shoulder line that adds to the body sides.  The well-defined wheel forms have a minimal gap with the tire sidewalls, and there is a gesture in the beltline that starts low off of the headlamps and kicks up to the rear liftgate.  Gone is the older 'box' design. This design is fresh and innovative, and immediately sets the Quest apart from the competition.

The interior's remarkable sense of openness comes from several design innovations, beginning with Quest's unique, low-height instrument panel that departs from the typical 'driver cockpit' to one of social space.  The new instrument panel layout utilizes a center-mounted cluster with a large 140 mph speedometer, 8,000 rpm tachometer, smaller fuel/engine coolant temperature gauges, bright LED lights to alert you, and a standard 6.3-inch information display screen.  The designers also rethought the traditional minivan interior architecture, with the shapely, centralized control stack taking on the look and feel of a desk or table, and leaving ample room for the driver or front passenger to easily turn around toward the rear of the Quest.  The shift lever is on the left, with the buttons and dials easy to use and understand. The new Quest's expressive and distinctive interior also comes through in the high quality feel and in the careful selection of standard equipment.  Up front, Quest offers 8-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, (with an available driver's seat memory position, foot pedal position and outside mirror position), and heated front seats.  Also offered are available leather-appointed interior, steer wheel mounted audio controls, automatic temperature control for the driver and front passenger, rear heating/AC, power up/down front windows, a front overhead console with sunglass storage, dual map lamps and rear sonar parking assist.  Eight cup holders, along with bottle holders/map pockets on each sliding door, offer flexibility and conveniences for all passengers and also numerous storage bins. A standard 150-watt AM-FM-CD audio system with 8-speakers is offered, along with a premium Bose-developed 325-watt audio system with 10-speakers.  All audio systems feature 'dual media' capability (when equipped with steering wheel audio controls), allowing rear passengers to use wireless or wired headphones for a different source than what is played through the speakers.  Taking mobile technology to the next level is an available DVD entertainment system with one or two roof-mounted display screens.  The system's DVD drive is located under the front passenger seat, oriented toward the driver, for ease of changing discs.  Also offered is a DVD-based navigation system with a 7-inch color display. Safety is a particularly important part of the minivan purchasing decision, and the all-new 2004 Nissan Quest was developed with a strong focus on both active safety (through the responsive engine, and superb braking systems) and passive safety (through a comprehensive set of passive restraints).  Standard safety equipment includes Zone Body construction with front and rear crushable occupant zones, and Nissan's Advanced Airbag System (which utilizes crash zone sensors at each zone allowing occupant weight sensing capability to control front passenger airbag deployment).  Also standard are head curtain supplemental airbags to help protect first, second, and third row occupants in side-impact collisions, body-side reinforcements, bright, side turning lamps, energy absorbing steering column, knee bolsters, shift interlock system, three-point seat belts and height-adjustable head restraints at all seating positions.  Also available are optional front-seat side-impact airbag protection.  Every new Quest also includes the LATCH child system and child safety rear door locks.

Powering the new Quest is a standard 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve, all-alloy, V6 engine tuned to 240 hp and 242 lb.ft. of torque.  This is the same award-winning engine found in the Nissan Altima, Murano, Maxima and 350Z.  The 240 hp is plenty of power for a quick 'get-up-and-go, to easily pass slower vehicles on the freeway, and to drive at triple-digit speeds all day.  The Quest engine is mated with either a standard 4-speed or an available 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive.  A traction control system is standard and there is an available Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system.  Driving and handling the new Quest is fun and easy with the precision and comfort of a fully independent suspension system enhanced with a power-assisted rack & pinion steering system.  It feels like you are behind the wheel of a full-size front-wheel-drive sedan.  Enhancing ride quality, traction, and control are large 225/60R17 all-season tires wrapped around 17x6.5-inch brushed alloy wheels on the 3.5SE model, and 16x6.5-inch alloy wheels and 225/65R16 all-season tires coming standard. The Quest stops quickly and with control because of large, power-assisted, 11.42-inch vented discs up front, and 12.13-inch solid discs in the rear.  Enhancing the braking system is ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Other standard features include full carpeting, cruise control, multi-speed wipers/washer, one-touch up/down front windows, power-remote side mirrors, manual rear vent windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, tilting steering wheel, and sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and extenders.  Options not listed above include power-sliding side doors and rear liftgate, roof-rack, running boards, rear wiper/washer, heated, power-remote controlled side mirrors, electro-chromic rearview mirror, leather wrapped steering wheel, power opening rear vent windows, and power-adjustable foot pedals controlled by seat memory system.

The engineers and designers at Nissan have done a great job of producing a minivan with everything desired by consumers looking for that perfect minivan.  Its got room for up to eight passengers, a powerful 240 hp V6 engine, a smooth shifting 5-speed transmission, a fully independent suspension for a smooth and controlled ride, the latest in comfort, luxury and convenience features and a long list of features to keep all concerned safe in the event of an accident. All of this great engineering and design doesn't come cheap, the price for a fully loaded Quest 3.5SE like the one I tested is $37,030.00, but it is well worth it if you want the best minivan on the market. © Harvey Schwartz

SIDEBAR COMMENT With its torquey 3.5-liter V6 engine, the new Quest is the hot rod of minivans. We inadvertently laid a patch of rubber trying to get on the Pasadena freeway (its onramps require jack rabbit acceleration). Not so hot rod-like is the rearward visibility. All minivans suffer in this area, but the roomy Quest seems like a longer vehicle than its competition, which makes backing up a little dicey. All-in-all, however, this is the coolest minivan since the original VW Microbus.  - Roy Nakano 

For more information on Nissan products, go to www.nissanusa.com

SPECIFICATIONS   Name of vehicle: 2004 Nissan Quest 3.5SE   Price: $37,030.00   Engine type: 3.5 liter, DOHC, 24-valve, Continuous Variable Valve Control System, V6 with aluminum alloy block and heads, moybedenum coated pistons, microfinished crankshaft/camshaft and multi-point electronic fuel injection.   Horsepower: 240 at 5,800 rpm   Torque: 242 lb.ft. at 4,400 rpm   Drive configuration: front-wheel-drive   Transmission type: 5-speed, electronically controlled automatic overdrive   Front suspension: independent struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar.   Rear suspension: independent multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar.   Wheels/tires: 225/60R17 Goodyear LS all-season radial tires, 17X6.5-inch aluminum alloy wheels.   Brakes:  Front: 11.42 x 1.10-inch power-assisted vented discs Rear: 12.13 x 0.63-inch solid discs ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution   Overall length: 204.1 inches Overall width: 77.6 inches Overall height: 71.9 inches Curb weight: 4,125 pounds    EPA mileage: 18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway

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