Exterior Design: ***
What was once a cutting edge design now looks a bit like a people mover from Tommorowland: a dated vision of the future from the past. Still, all credit to Nissan for shunning the mainstream minivan s makers tendency to hire the design firm of Bland, Boring and Tame.
Five subjective stars (we re not talking about a Porsche Carrera GT here). Nissan s VQ35 six is a real peach, both smooth and wonderfully torqueative. Around town, the Quest s got all the grunt you need to rabbit punch snotty-nosed Accords. On the open road, the Quest runs out of puff somewhere above 80mph. What a drag.
The Quest s stopping distances may not be class-leading, but its 11 /12 vented discs offer terrific bite and excellent feel. The stoppers are wired to all the latest electronic safety software — a welcome reassurance given the laws of physics in relation to momentum and weight.
The Quest s unibody chassis is more rigid than a boneless chicken, but only just. What do you expect from a stretched Altima platform that extends an epic 17 feet? At least the Quest s suspension is tuned to cope with the inefficiency of your local department of public works.
Independent struts with coils at the front, the Altima s multi-link at the back, stabilizer bars open for business at both ends. The Quest s suspension set-up works for me — as long as I don t drive normally. At sensible speeds, the massive minivan handles with surprising precision and poise, with minimal body lean. That said, understeer is out there, everywhere; but there s plenty of weighty warning waiting for those who don t know better.
Who notices? I suppose that s a good thing
A big thumbs-up for the two roof-mounted video screens, sat radio, BOSE surround sound (!) and intuitive controls. Stashing the DVD player under the passenger seat facing the driver is a bit odd, given that driver distraction and death often appear in the same sentence.
Where s the rear view camera (a must for family-friendly leviathans), controls for rear passenger windows, plug points for Gameboy and Gamegirl or anything remotely cool? We re not looking for a subterranean lazy Susan, but this genre demands a bit of gee-whizzery.
The indented floor behind the rear bench is incredibly useful — as long as you don t mind packing your own groceries (to avoid stacking the Diet Coke on top of mother hen s doomed genetic material). You can fold all the Quest s seats flat to the floor, but I always have trouble with that kind of thing.
Overall rating: ***