Nissan Quest Gets Interior Redo
Chicago Auto Show Provides Backdrop for 2007 Quest Introduction
Nissan took a gamble with its current Quest minivan, launched for 2004, with expressive and distinct exterior styling and an unusual interior layout, particularly with regard to the location of typical driving gauges and the overall look to the center console. The gamble did not paid off in the sales the company hoped for, so they take another gamble by admitting that the 2004 product wasn’t perfectly conceived and introducing corrections for the 2007 model year.
At the 2006 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan acknowledged that perhaps the interior went too far pushing the styling edge, and that it hurt sales. Brave for admitting a mistake, the company did so as they announced that they have addressed many of the interior issues with the 2007 model year. Nissan also ‘fessed up to this being the most expensive mid-cycle change in the company’s history. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific were on hand for the show. Our first look at the Quest’s updated interior reveals improvements that will make the minivan much easier and more enjoyable to live with, but perhaps difficult to market. These changes bring the Quest’s interior up to the level that it should have been all along, but do not give Nissan advertising staff much unique to sell.
New Face Hints at More Extensive Changes Inside
Having identified interior issues as the primary trouble spot in terms of lower-than-expected sales, Nissan remains committed to the funky exterior and limited 2007 outside updates to revised front and rear fascias, headlights, taillights, chrome door handles, and a revised roof rack. The top 3.5 SE model gets new side sills. Thus, the Quest remains the largest minivan on market. The updated grille gives it a more sophisticated look and drops the dotted-look grille insert that looks as silly on the Maxima as it did the Quest. Some family-look elements Nissan can afford to change, and this was one of them. The simple chrome surround and horizontal lines of the updated grille are more appropriate to a minivan that is competing in a conventional market.
Gauges in Their Proper Place
The 2004 Quest had all gauges and controls in the center stack in a design that seems to have flopped with customers. The Quest is only built for the U.S. market, so Nissan couldn’t even justify the central location of gauges as a move to make the car cheaper to build for both left- and right-hand drive markets. It came off as different for different’s sake and it didn’t work for a vehicle needing to make soccer moms happy. While an outgoing exterior design may appeal, the poor acceptance of this layout only underscores that the conservative nature of the minivan buyer means they also are more interested in a functional than a funky interior.
The dash, center stack, and instrument panels were not the only areas of consumer complaint, though, so Nissan went further than simply relocating gauges. Along with the weird layout, customer complaints addressed include poor perceived quality and squeaks and rattles. The 2007MY update brings new trim materials throughout and improves the function of folding seats, as well as moving gauges back in front of the driver where they belong. The shape of the center stack was revised. Nissan toned down the odd oval shape and gave it a more graceful look. The gearshift remains in about the same place, but the HVAC and audio controls are revised and the navigation screen is larger. A full-length center console is available for the first row, in place of the standard tray table.
Changes that address complaints about poor functionality include improved third-row folding (the headrests now fold with the seats rather than needing to be removed and stored, and they can now be folded with one hand) and a revising the tip-up feature for the second-row seats. The rear-seat DVD entertainment system now offers two optional eight-inch screens, and the CD changer has been moved from under the driver’s seat (a most annoying location because of its poor accessibility) and into the lower portion of the center stack.
Among the things that does not change, and that customers seem to enjoy, is the optional SkyView roof. The 2007 Quest continues to use the well-proven 240HP 3.5L DOHC 24v V6, but the only transmission option is a five-speed automatic with wider gear spacing than before. A four-speed automatic had been the standard transmission for 2004-2006 model years, but was dropped.