Modestly restyled in the front and rear for 2001, the Quest is similar to the Mercury Villager. Both are built at the same plant in Ohio as a joint venture between Nissan and Ford. Each make was redesigned two years ago, and both are expected to be dropped early in the 2002 model year. The styling for this year was done at Nissans design studio in California, and Nissan also supplied the engine and most of the engineering development. The Quest and Villager differ mainly in their front-end appearance.
Three models are available: the GXE, SE and top-of-the-line GLE. A newly optional Family Entertainment System features a 6.4-inch drop-down video screen. All models now have a rear stabilizer bar, and the SE gained a retuned sport suspension with a bigger stabilizer bar and new fog lamps. Heated seats have been added to the GLE. A new 130-watt seven-speaker Super Sound system became standard in SE and GLE models, with Radio Data Systems (RDS) technology and steering-wheel controls.
All Quests are the same size, with a 112.2-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 194.6 inches. Each minivan is 64.2 inches high, which grows to 67.3 inches when equipped with a roof rack. Dual sliding side doors are installed, but power operation is not available.
Seven occupants fit inside the Quest. SE and GLE models have two bucket seats in the second row, and the GXE has a removable two-place bench in the second row, which is available with optional child-safety seats. All models have a three-passenger bench in the third row, which slides back and forth on tracks in the floor. The restyled dashboard includes a new message center that incorporates an outside-temperature display in SE and GLE versions. Extra features in the GLE include an in-dash six-CD changer, a wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel and a multiadjustable rear cargo shelf that holds items up to 30 pounds in secure compartments. The cargo shelf is available in other models as part of an option group.
Quests without a sunroof may now be fitted with an optional rear-seat entertainment system that includes a hidden VCR, flip-down video screen and headphones; SE and GLE models with a sunroof can get a floor-console entertainment system instead. Introduced in 2000, that systems screen pops up from the console.
Under the Hood
All Quests have the same 170-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine, which teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Antilock brakes are standard. Front seat belt pretensioners are new for 2001, but side-impact airbags are not available.
On the road, the Quest and Villager give the impression of being smaller than many competitors. In fact, the Quests dimensions put it between the typical regular-length and extended-wheelbase minivan. Performance and handling are fully adequate, though not exceptional. The available rear cargo shelf is a handy accessory for stowing grocery bags and odd-shaped items.