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
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
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
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
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Nissan Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Column Name: Quest Minivans get a second wind
2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SE
Word Count: 835
Photo Caption: The 2007 Nissan Quest 3.5 SE
Nissan Internet Media
Series #: 2007 - 01
the Microsoft Word version here:
2007 Nissan Quest
Download the Original Image File here:
2007 Nissan Quest