Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Views & Videos
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory
Bookmark and Share

2004 Minivan Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Nissan Quest
Nissan Quest minivan

This year's award for Best Minivan Makeover would have to go to the Nissan Quest. One short year off the market was long enough to make us forget the dowdy, small Quest sold here since the middle of the last decade.

Having emerged from its cocoon, the Quest now is just about the most futuristic vehicle on the road. The individual squares that comprise the Quest's grille (that remind several of us of those on the '58 Buick) are flanked by jewel-like headlamps with turn signals that pop up a bit from their housings for a little bit of design intrigue. Follow the contours back and you'll notice a dramatic upturn in the "waistline" of the bodyside - yet another detail that makes the Quest unique. Out back, instead of being chopped off, the Quest's tail end drops gracefully down to the bumper, with oversized taillights.

One particularly nice option that can be enjoyed from the outside (if you're tall enough) or the inside is the SkyView roof panel system, which incorporates a conventional moonroof and adds four more glass panels - all with sun shades - over the rear seats. Nice.

The interior itself is as modern as the exterior. The odd, center-mounted gauges are the first we've seen in so arranged on a minivan (and hopefully, they'll be the last). The secondary controls are presented as if on a platter, on a slanted round pad that rises from the floor. Weird. But hey, it all works, and besides, the kids love it. In back, available fold-flat second row seats stow nearly flush with the floor, and the third-row seat is of the fold-flat variety. There is even a dual-screen flip-down entertainment system.

The Quest simply wouldn't be a Nissan if it didn't have a stellar powertrain. And so it has a quiet, 240-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, which ties that of the Honda Odyssey for output. The upmarket SE trim comes with a 5-speed automatic transmission in place of the 4-speed unit on S and SL models. Handling is not quite as good as the class-leading Mazda MPV, but remains among the best of all minivans we've ever driven.