The Nissan Quest is a minivan produced by Nissan since 1993. There have been three generations of this model. The first generation Quest was a collaboration with Ford, which produced the mechanically identical and cosmetically similar Mercury Villager. The vans debuted at the 1992 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Quest is distinguishable by a grille and headlights that are slightly shorter top to bottom than those on the Villager. Both vehicles were initially powered by the 3.0 L Nissan VG30E V6 until 1999, when the Quest received the 3.3 L version of the same engine. The Quest was completely redesigned for 2004, while the Villager was discontinued and replaced with the Mercury Monterey. The current model is built on the FF-L platform, which it shares with the Altima, Maxima, and Murano. It also shares the award-winning 3.5 L VQ engine with those cars.
First generation (1993-1998)
The Nissan Quest was a new model made by Nissan to compete in the minivan segment. The Quest was a successor to the Axxess, which was sold in the United States in 1990 only and in Canada from 1990-1995. It also replaced the rear-wheel drive Vanette, also discontinued in 1990. The Quest was initially powered by Nissan's 3.0 L VG30E SOHC engine that made 151 hp and 182 ft·lb. Ford required that Nissan make some design changes to the VG30E before they would agree to use it in the Villager and Quest. One of the requirements from Ford was that the engine was to be modified to become a non-interference or free-running engine. (Thus if the timing belt breaks, there would be no damage to the valves). Other changes included the addition of an oil level sensor and relocating the oil filter assembly for better access. The Quest was available as XE or GXE models. Because of manufacturing issues, Nissan had an arrangement for Ford to assemble the minivan in North America, and in turn they were allowed to rebadge it and sell it under the Mercury brand as the Villager. Many of the interior parts, including the radio, heater controls and power windows controls were adapted from Ford, and were similar to the Ford Aerostar. This generation of the Quest minivan was built in Avon Lake, Ohio, where the Villager was also built. The van shares the modified version of the VG30E from the U11, and early J30 Maximas, as well as the 4-speed automatic transmission from the Maxima.
An initial complaint was the sometimes annoying motorized shoulder seatbelts. Seating was for 7, with a removable 2-seater bench in the middle, allowing the third row bench of 3 seats to slide up (either folded up for more room or down for passengers) behind the front for more rear cargo room. 1996 saw the introduction of changes to the front and rear fascias, as well as headlights and tail lamps. 1996 was also the first year for the driver's side airbag- which eliminated the motorized shoulder belts.
Second generation (1999-2002)
For 1999, the Quest was redesigned, and it gave the exterior a more aerodynamic look, and the driver's side sliding door. The Quest also got a power boost via the 3.3 L VG33E SOHC engine, making 171 hp (128 kW) and 200 lb·ft (270 N·m) of torque. The XE trim was discontinued and the GXE was moved as the base model. Two new trim levels were also introduced: the top of the line GLE and the sport model SE.
Nissan imbued the 2001 Quest with a raft of minor improvements. Styling front and rear was updated, along with new alloy wheels on all models. The entry-level GXE gained a rear stabilizer bar, while the SE received acceleration-sensitive strut valving and a strut tower brace. New interior gauges and fabrics as well as a 130-watt sound system were standard on SE and GLE. Luxury GLE models also received an in-dash six-CD changer and a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel. An optional overhead family entertainment system replaced the former floor-mounted model, though it could still be specified for SEs and GLEs equipped with a sunroof. Front seatbelts were given pretensioners. The 2001 Quest was also slightly longer, with more cargo space than the previous generation. The 2002 Nissan Quest was not sold in Canada. The Quest would not return to Canada until the third generation model arrived in 2004.
By the end of this generation, both Honda and Toyota had switched to the size of long-wheelbase Chrysler minivans, and the Quest was becoming too small for the American market. There was no Quest for the 2003 model year.
Third generation (2004-present)
The third generation Quest was redesigned in 2004 whereas the Villager was discontinued in 2002, and the current Quest is based on the Nissan Maxima, sharing many aesthetic exterior and interior designs. Production moved to Canton, Mississippi. In size, this generation was made slightly longer than the class-defining Chrysler long-wheelbase minivans. The Quest is powered by the oft-used 3.5 L VQ35DE engine from the Maxima, Altima, and others. In the Quest, it produces 240 hp (179 kW) and 242 lb·ft (328 N·m) of torque. The Quest has a flat folding rear bench and the two middle chairs fold nearly flat into the floor. The interior volume is 211.9 ft³.
The third generation Quest has been both praised and criticized for its styling. The original center-mounted instrument panel, which drew some buyers in and turned others away (the speedometer and tachometer were in the center of the dash, rather than in front of the driver) had been especially criticized. It features an unusual moonroof glass arrangement, and positions for 2 DVD screens rather than the usual one. Sales of this third generation model have been less than expected, and Nissan redesigned the front grille and the much-criticized dashboard for the 2007 model.
The Quest has been very unreliable in Consumer Reports' surveys due mainly to problems with the brakes. However, the brake problems have been improved and the Quest has an average rating in CR's 2008 survey.