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2007 Nissan Quest

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San Francisco: Before SUVs stole the spotlight in the mid '90s, there was a time when minivans were actually cool. Moms and dads across America aspired to drive their munchkins around in these new shiny boxes, never mind the fact that most minivans were pieces of garbage. They drove like beat-up old plumber's vans and had interiors that felt like they were made of cardboard panels held together by Seran Wrap. But oh, they were practical.

They had big, comfortable seats with enough legroom to make you think you were flying first-class, and sliding doors made it easy for legions of kids to pour out of the back seats when you pulled up at soccer practice. It was almost enough to make you forget about the knobs falling off your radio and the Seran Wrap peeling off all the cardboard trim.

Then SUVs came along and wrecked the minivan market. These same moms and dads thought they looked better driving glorified farm machinery than the passť minivans, so they would show up at soccer practice with virtual monster trucks rather than drive something sensible.

As threatening as it may seem, I think this SUV onslaught is the best thing that ever happened to the minivan. It finally forced the companies that made them to stop churning out rubbish and start focusing on quality, something they never had to do before - at least not at the same level. And this focus on quality is making sensible people start loving minivans again.

For example, when my wife heard I would be driving a Nissan Quest for a week, she nearly squealed with delight. Personally, I only get that excited about sports cars and would rather strap our kids to the hood of my Alfa Romeo two-seater than drive this Ambien-on-wheels minivan. She doesn't think that way, though. She's reasonable.

While I'd never jump for joy over driving any kind of minivan or SUV, I did find the Quest remarkably practical for our family trips. It had a quiet and smooth ride, an interior as nice as most sedans, and was loaded with features that kept any back-seat passengers happy and comfortable.

Loading our kids and their car seats into the Quest was a piece of cake thanks to big, wide, power-sliding doors on both sides. It was especially fun to press a button on the remote that makes the door slide open, and say, "Open sesame," just to get my three-year-old to freak out.

From the driver's seat, the Quest feels remarkably like a big sedan, albeit a boring one. The ride is squishy, steering feel is numb and body roll is excessive, so it lacks that oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-this-is-a-minivan feeling you get after driving the Honda Odyssey.

When you have to haul big cargo, it's fairly easy to fold the rear seats flat by pulling just a couple of levers. It's not as easy as the fancy Stow-n-Go seating you'll find in the Dodge and Chrysler minivans, but it's still a simple process.

Style-wise, the Quest offers a more distinct flavor than you'll find on most other minivans. My test vehicle came in dark brown metallic paint with chocolate leather seats, a daring combination that's remarkably flamboyant by minivan standards.

I also like how, unlike some recent General Motors minivans, the Quest doesn't pretend to be something it's not. There was probably a temptation for Nissan's designers to give it an SUV-like profile, but they wisely stuck with the classic minivan look. I know I'd rather drive a sharp looking but plain minivan than a gussied-up, off-road minivan that ends up looking like a poorly executed SUV.

Overall, the Quest shows that minivans aren't going away. Thanks to their improved quality, ample interior space and inherent practicality, minivans are still among the very best ways to travel with your family.

What was tested? The 2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SE with a base price of $33,900. Options: Technology package ($800), navigation system ($2,650), DVD player ($2,000). Price as tested (including $605 destination charge): $39,955.

Why avoid it? It's a minivan, so it's not as trendy and stylish as an SUV, and it has an unusually curvy body for a minivan.

Why buy it? It's a great family vehicle with lots of space and a quiet, comfortable ride. It offers more distinctive styling options than most minivans, including some bold interior and exterior colors. Plus one of the most unique features on the Nissan Quest is the big skylight that extends all the way to the back-row seats. Even little kids riding back there deserve to see the sky.  By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:
 Quest Minivans get a second wind
Topic:  The 2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SE
Word Count:  835
Photo Caption: 
The 2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SE
Photo Credits:  Nissan Internet Media
Series #:   2007 - 01
 

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