A cousin to the Mercury Villager, Nissans minivan will cease production in the summer of 2002. Alloy wheels were restyled for the 2002 GXE and SE models, and option packages have been revised.
The Quest comes in three flavors: GXE, sporty SE and the luxurious GLE. Both the Quest and Villager have been produced at the same plant in Ohio as a joint venture between Nissan and Ford. Each was redesigned for 1999, and the two differ mainly in their front-end appearance. The Villager will also disappear in the summer of 2002.
Like most minivans, the Quest has seen declining popularity. Sales fell by almost 32 percent in the 2001 calendar year, to just 29,232 units, according to Automotive News. The Mercury Villager has been even less popular with only 22,046 units sold during 2001. Mercury will not issue a redesigned Villager but is expected to launch a replacement, likely in 2003.
At Detroits North American International Auto Show in January 2002, Nissan exhibited a stunning Quest concept minivan. This signaled the companys intention to revive the Quest later on. We have quite a number of very satisfied current Quest owners, says Jack Collins, Nissans vice president of product planning, so having a minivan in the lineup is very important. In addition, Nissan has many young customers who will need a minivan as they go through family formation and start having children. The next Quest will be produced at a new plant in Mississippi, which will not be completed until 2003.
The Quest rides a 112.2-inch wheelbase, measures 194.6 inches long overall and stands 64.2 inches tall; the height grows to 67.3 inches with the addition of a roof rack.
Dual-sliding side doors are installed, but power operation is not available. All models have 16-inch wheels and a rear stabilizer bar, and the SE has a sport-tuned suspension. Maximum interior volume for cargo storage totals 127.6 cubic feet.
Space is provided for seven occupants in the Quest. SE and GLE models have two captains chairs in the second row. The GXE has a removable two-place bench seat in the second row, which is available with optional child-safety seats. All versions have a three-passenger bench in the third row, which slides fore and aft on tracks in the floor.
Standard GXE equipment includes power windows and door locks, a cassette stereo, tilt steering and remote keyless entry. The SE adds rear air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated mirrors.
In SE and GLE minivans, a message center incorporates an outside-temperature display. A 130-watt seven-speaker Super Sound system goes into SE and GLE models, with Radio Data Systems (RDS) technology and steering-wheel controls. Heated front seats are included in the GLE, which also comes with leather upholstery, an in-dash six-CD changer, a wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel, and powered rear quarter windows, memory drivers seat and mirrors. The GLE also has a multi-adjustable rear cargo shelf that holds items up to 30 pounds in secure compartments. Called the Smart Shelf, its available in other models as part of an option group.
Quests without a sunroof can get an optional rear-seat Family Entertainment System that features a flip-down, 6.4-inch video screen, a hidden VCR and headphones. Models with a sunroof are equipped with a different entertainment system, which features a video screen that pops up from a floor console.
Under the Hood
Like the Mercury Villager, the Quest uses a 170-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine that mates to a four-speed-automatic transmission. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Antilock brakes, front seat belt pretensioners and LATCH child-seat tethers are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.
On the road, both the Quest and Villager give the impression of being smaller than many of their competitors. In reality, the Quests external dimensions put it between the typical regular-length and the extended-wheelbase minivan.
Performance and handling are wholly adequate but not exceptional. The available rear cargo shelf is a handy accessory for stowing grocery bags and odd-shaped items.