The fourth generation Nissan Quest launched for the 2011 model year, marking a dramatic departure from the prior model. The last Quest was developed and conceived specifically for North America (and built here too), riding on a version of the Altima sedan’s platform. While a very able minivan, it never truly caught on. Perhaps its was styling, both inside and out, that was too aggressive or avant garde for traditional minivan customers.
With the latest Quest, Nissan stepped away from the traditional American minivan template and moved production back to Japan, commonizing it with the Japanese-market Elgrand people mover, albeit with revised front and rear styling more in line with American tastes.
Yes…and no. Of course it would be nearly impossible for a minivan to score 100% on the mom test, but the Quest comes pretty close. I’m just happy that Nissan has decided to embrace the family side of the minivan rather than attempting to market it on sex appeal or driving fun. Try as you will to make it turn heads in a positive way, once someone has given in to having a minivan parked in their driveway their decision to purchase will be less on exterior appearance and more on comfort, convenience and features.
When It’s a FORUM.
Nissan created the Quest for buyers who needed a minivan but didn’t really want to drive one. It was given an aggressive exterior supported by an odd and innovative interior, which took a major update that made it more conventional with the 2007 model year. But the Quest is too much for most minivan buyers, and sales have disappointed Nissan. Nissan must have done some things right, though; Quest owners gave it AutoPacific’s 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Minivans.
Despite lukewarm response to Quest, Nissan has not given up on the cool minivan concept, proven by this year’s FORUM concept. Jury’s out on whether FORUM succeeds with showgoers, but much thought and detail went into development and it sports features that would be appreciated in any minivan. The not-minivan FORUM’s angry-appliance looks would stand out in a sea of sameness.
FORUM’s dramatic exterior is wrapped around clever features to keep all rows happy. There’s no doubt that FORUM explores features and style for a new Quest, but Nissan executives indicated that if they don’t think a new generation will be profitable, it won’t be built.
Ah, the wonderful world of Minivans. Where parents are relegated to a tin box on wheels. Where you share the same workload as a prison bus driver, only you’re not getting paid and there are no steel bars to protect you from the scoundrels in the back. Can’t imagine owning one? Well, neither could we. But after a weekend with a 2007 Hyundai Entourage the AutoPacific staff is starting to rethink the possibility that these minivan owners may have the last laugh…
Walking up to the Entourage, for me, is like walking up to any minivan: depressing. It’s like I’m walking towards the ‘injection room’ on my last day at San Quentin. Part of the issue is package provisions. It would be very difficult to pack in everything that makes a minivan so great into something with a different image. Most manufacturers have identified the exact ingredients needed to build and successfully sell a minivan. They all take relatively the same shape or form and follow the magic instructions: front-wheel-drive, V6, and two sliding doors.