When Nissan decided to redesign their Quest, in 2004, it had to watch its step. The mini-van market isn't exactly the place to try out new revolutionary concepts, and treading carefully was easier said than done for a company that enjoyed success precisely because it broke the mould with many models in its line-up. Considering that five years ago, mini-vans accounted for almost 15 per cent of all new vehicle sales, the stakes were pretty high.
Built on Nissan's popular FFL platform the same as the Maxima and Altima sedans and Murano sport ute the then-new Quest was apparently inspired, by, of all things, contemporary urban lofts. As well as being one of the largest mini-vans out there, it was also one of the most remarkable looking, resembling a kind of a cross between a Star Trek space shuttle and a dust-buster.
Power was amply provided by Nissan's award-winning VQ35 V6 engine that displaced 3.5 litres and, in this configuration, developed 240 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 242 foot-pounds of torque at 4400 rpm. It was mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with the base S model, and a five-speed automatic with a manual shift feature in the SL and SE versions. Both powertrains gave the Quest above average acceleration, and surprisingly good fuel economy: 12.4 L/100 km in the city, and 8.2 L/100 km on the highway. The only other mini-van that could match it in these departments was perennial rival, the Honda Odyssey.
The Quest had unibody construction and came with disc brakes on all four corners. It accommodated seven adults, and had rear and middle row seats that folded flush into the floor, providing a flat area for carrying cargo. Nissan called this feature "spontaneous flexibility". It also came with an impressive list of standard features, including heated front seats, one-touch up and down power front windows, rear heating and air conditioning, and eight cupholders. Safety equipment included ABS, eight airbags, childproof rear doors, and lower anchors and tether for child's seats. This vintage of Quest also featured the largest sliding side doors in the business.150 mm longer than the last version.
When it was launched, Nissan described the interior of the redesigned Quest as a "social space". Compared to its rivals, it was definitely off the beaten track, with its centre console that resembled an upended beer keg, but everything was easy to get at and there was plenty of interior elbow room. Some available features included: power adjustable foot controls, four 12-volt power points, overhead "skyview' glass panels, and a rear overhead console. Options included leather interior, a DVD entertainment system, and a GPS. The new Quest was also one of the largest mini-vans on the market, a full 250 mm. longer than its predecessor, with almost as much interior space as a so-called "full size" van.....over 4200 litres with both back row seats folded flat.
Three safety recalls to report from Transport Canada, all aimed at passengers in the back of the vehicle. The first involves a possibly faulty airbag for the third row seat passengers, the second concerns improperly welded third row seat striker brackets, and the third, a malicious seat adjustment lever on the second row of seats that could pinch the fingers of unwary occupants when they try to adjust the seat.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration also has these on file, and a fairly substantial 29 technical service bulletins as well. Some of these include a warning about not disconnecting the battery while the vehicle is running (this also applies to virtually every Nissan product manufactured in the past 30 years), a possible exhaust system "rattle", a leaky sunroof, and various cooling system advisories. A large number of the latter are on file with NHTSA.
A "worse than average" used car verdict from Consumer Reports for the 05 Quest. In fact, this organization gives it their lowest grades in most areas of the vehicle, including paint and trim, electrical system, body hardware, power equipment and body integrity. About the only area spared is the drivetrain, which gets good marks.
No joy from marketing researcher, J.D. Power either. Aside from powertrain quality and interior comfort, the 2005 Quest gets "about average" or failing grades in just about every department, including vehicle dependability, which is worse than average.
Which could explain the fact that it seems to be selling for less than half of what it cost new. Prices for an 05 Quest range from a low fo about $11,000 for the base S model, going up to the $17,000 neighbourhood for a loaded SE.
AT A GLANCE
Original Base Price: $32,900 - $43,400; Black Book Value: $14,475 - $17,625; Red Book Value: $11,075 - $13,800
Engine: 3.5 litre V6
Horsepower/Torque: 240 hp / 242 ft.lb
Transmission: Four/Five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.4 city/8.2 hwy Regular fuel.
Alternatives: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Siena, Kia Sedona, Ford Freestar, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town And Country, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana.