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2005 Minivan Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

2005 Nissan Quest

For those searching the night sky for visions of interplanetary visitors, a glance at Nissan's redesigned Quest minivan might make them think a one-eyed version has arrived. Set smack in the middle of the instrument panel is a single, hooded housing for all gauges, that bears a strangely "other world" appearance.

Once one grows accustomed to curious drivers asking questions at stoplights, it begins to make sense. This next generation minivan is aimed solidly at the younger crowd to whom space games played on monitors with joysticks is second nature. A joystick-like automatic shifter sits within a circle of controls atop a round, flat-topped mid-console housing. It takes an hour or so to become accustomed to looking to the right to check such things as mileage and speed.

The 2005 model year brings subtle changes after the previous year's dramatic makeover for the Nissan. The midrange Quest SL model gains a five-speed automatic for the gutsy, 240-horsepower 3.5 liter V-6, plus Bose audio on leather-trimmed seat versions that now sport adjustable armrests. The budget category S model adds a standard roof rack, plus new power package. Three earlier exterior colors are gone - Sahara Gold, Green Tea and Azure Blue - now replaced by Galaxy Black, Jade and Majestic Blue. Other additions include standard active head restraints for driver and front passenger and a standard Vehicle Security System (VSS).

Remaining unchanged is the Quest's redefined character on a big, bold expanded and more road-hugging wheelbase that grows wider toward the rear. (Be sure you allow time to learn to park it curbside.) But the shape adds loads of hauling space, made more usable with mid and rear rows of seats folded down. Prices in the mid-20s to mid-30s range (for the top SE version) can grow depending on options. And with satellite radio, it could make the imaginative wonder what messages might beam down from beyond the stratosphere.