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Review and Photos by Brian Early
Subtle might be the best way to describe the visible changes made to Nissan’s funky people mover for the 2007 model year. You might not even spot the brand-new corporate grille, more aggressive front fascia, or the new wheel designs found on all alloy-equipped Quests. And only a current Quest owner is likely to notice the new roof rack rails, or the top-rung SE model’s titanium-hued taillight housings. Yet this model has received what Nissan touts as “one of the largest mid-cycle investments in Nissan history.” What gives?
“What gives” has mostly to do with the Quest’s interior; this is a case where it really is what’s inside that counts.
It needed the revamp; in the two years since I’ve driven a Quest, I’d forgotten just how quirky the current interior is. Going through the images of my earlier tester revealed how quickly it has become dated.
If you liked the how the Quest drove, as I did – it’s still among the sportiest of the current large minivan crop – but hated the 2004-2006 model’s central-mounted gauge cluster and unconventional instrument panel design (it wasn’t among my favourites), you’ll be pleased with the vastly improved interior found in the 2007′s.
The new interior’s biggest changes have occurred ahead of the B-pillars; the gauge cluster now sits properly framed by the rim of one of Nissan’s excellent, chunky, corporate steering wheels. Located above the restyled centre stack – approximately where the cluster once resided – is either a monochrome LCD matrix display or a full colour 7-inch LCD screen for the audio, climate, and (optionally) navigation and back-up camera displays, depending on equipment and trim. The larger colour screen is styled to resemble an open laptop computer.
The automatic’s shifter and those climate and audio controls are all on a panel that suggests the tube-shape of the former centre-stack design without sharing its odd appearance. Their operation has been simplified somewhat (though they remain a cluster of similar-looking buttons) and they’ve had their tactile feel improved upon. No more cheap-feeling spring-loaded twist-and-hold knobs; knurled twist knobs with chrome garnish now control driver and front passenger temperature settings, as well as audio system volume. Radio tuning and front fan speeds are push button toggles, however; you can’t win them all.
A second set of twist knobs, now mounted in the overhead console, operate the standard rear climate control, reducing the dash clutter factor somewhat, and the Quest’s unique “Skyview” multi-sunroof feature is still available. Unfortunately, none of the redesign dollars went into making the Quest’s sliding door windows openable.
Parents of younger children will appreciate that the optional DVD system’s player and its controls remain up front, now relocated to a more convenient spot in the centre stack, hidden beneath the slot for the audio system’s CD player (it used to be in the side of the passenger’s seat base).
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Anyone who’s ever had to fumble around behind them to load a disc in a ceiling-mounted player will understand the benefits of this location, which is shared by only a few other factory DVD-equipped vehicles. (The video screen, or screens – SE models have two – grow an inch to 8 inches.) The move makes possible an optional centre console unit (replacing the standard folding tray/table), complete with covered bins and cubbies and a pair of cup holders. Unlike the console units found in some competitors, this one cannot be removed or relocated, and there’s no provision for anything between the second row seats (it would be difficult, as they fold down flat onto the floor).
The seats retain the same pseudo high-end furniture style as before, using improved materials in enriched versions of the current beige and grey choices, joined by a new (light brown-ish) designer colour called “Chilli”. The door panels and dash now feature brushed metal or faux wood trim, and chrome highlights brighten up the door handles and speaker housings.
Among the significant interior changes is the operation of the third row seat. Nissan’s inelegant head restraint storage solution used to be a mesh bag that hung on the D-pillar. All three head restraints now fold forward automatically when the rear seat’s release cord is pulled: no removal is necessary. Springs mounted to the seat’s pivots aid redeployment. Nissan’s staff candidly admitted that the old design equated to “a hundred pound dead-lift”. It’s still one piece, so it’s no Sienna or Odyssey, but it is much better.
What Nissan wisely left alone was the powertrain’s main ingredients; a 240 hp 3.5-litre VQ-series V6 mated to a five speed automatic (the base four speed is gone); the automatic’s ratios and shift strategy have been revised to improve response.
Nissan claims that some additional effort has gone into reducing wind and road noise, particularly from the independent rear suspension. A brief drive at relatively low speeds in very gusty conditions unfortunately made it impossible to verify the results.
The obvious improvements to the 2007 Quest aren’t that obvious, so I hope that Nissan is prepared to spend a few more dollars to inform potential buyers of the changes. Otherwise, in spite of pricing that’s not expected to increase much (if any), the Quest’s sales will continue to suffer at the hands of new competitors, such as the Kia Sedona and Hyundai Entourage, or existing players, like the Honda Odyssey, a major adversary which has recently undergone a substantial and effective redesign.
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Given that an all-new Quest – based on the 2007 Altima’s new “D platform” – isn’t expected until at least 2009 (as a 2010), it would be a serious mistake not to advertise the changes for 2007; many minivan shoppers may just figure that the Quest sitting in the showroom this Spring is the same avant-garde vehicle that they looked at and passed by two or three years ago. That would be a pity.
- Price: To Be Determined
- On sale: Spring, 2006
- Current models: 3.5 S ($32,048), 3.5 SL ($36,348), and 3.5 SE ($46,548).
- Engine: 3.5-litre V6, DOHC 24 valve with variable valve timing, aluminum block and heads.
- Power/Torque: 240 hp (rpm not specified) / 242 lb-ft (rpm not specified).
- Fuel Consumption: (Converted from US EPA estimates by Nissan Canada) 13.0 L/100 km City/9.4 L/100 km Highway; premium fuel recommended.
- Competition: Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Hyundai Entourage, Toyota Sienna, 3.9-litre GM minivans.