By Dave and Carolyn;
edited by Paul Williams
After many months of driving and learning about minivans, Dave and Carolyn step into the last on the list of family vans available in Canada, the 2008 Nissan Quest. It’s fitting that this should be the last vehicle tested because, in appearance at least, this vehicle has the most adventurous styling of them all. And fairly or not, the creative styling promises something significantly different from the Quest in daily driving. Then again, maybe it’s just fancy packaging.
The 2008 Nissan Quest arrives in three levels of trim – S, SL and SE – after a fairly thorough makeover in 2007 (see the Autos Buyer’s Guide for more details on that). Base price for the Quest S is $32,598; the SE follows at $37,398 and the fully equipped SE starts at $46,998.
Quests are powered with a version of Nissan’s ubiquitous and celebrated VQ35 engine, which in minivan application makes 235-horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. The Quest S features standard traction control but not vehicle stability control (this is only available on the SE). The transmission is a five-speed automatic transmission, and like all the other vans we’ve tested in our series, this is a front-drive vehicle.
The Quest S is equipped with cornering lights, dual power assisted and heated exterior mirrors, chrome door handles, manual sliding doors and manually operated rear liftgate. Wheels are 16-inch steel with covers, and air conditioning is not automatic. Roof rails are standard, as is rear privacy glass, and an information centre with trip computer. Standard flip-out rear quarter windows are manually operated; there are grocery bag hooks on second and third row seatbacks, and ten cupholders. The Quest S (along with the SL) now comes standard with a Panasonic rear seat DVD system (single monitor) with rear seat audio controls, two wireless headphones and remote control.
Our Quest test vehicle is equipped with a $2,400 Convenience package, which includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, power sliding doors and power rear liftgate, and power flip-out rear quarter windows, eight-way power driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and rear sonar to help with backing up. This sounds like a “must have” option package.
Our Quest S, as tested, is priced at $34,998, plus $1,450 freight/delivery. Fuel consumption is estimated to be 12.9/8.5 L/100km, city/highway.
Dave’s first impressions of the 2008 Nissan Quest
2008 Nissan Quest. Click image to enlarge
The first thing you notice about the Nissan Quest is its distinctive exterior, making this undoubtedly the trendiest of all the minivans included in the Autos Minivan Challenge. It is certainly unique looking, with its swooping curves, low front end and curvy flanks. If you want to purchase a unique looking minivan this is the vehicle to buy!
Personally, I really like the look of this vehicle. I feel that pictures of the Quest fail to reflect how modern looking it really is.
Upon opening the driver’s door I was immediately impressed by the fact that the front seats sit lower than usual; this reminded me of a Greyhound bus in that the driver sits lower down in comparison with the passengers. Getting in and out of this vehicle is very easy to do, not unlike getting in and out of a full sized passenger car.
On the road, you feel like you’re sitting in a large car, because you’re sitting at what is typically sedan height (but not too low, like in the Mazda5). The driver also has the feeling of piloting a small airplane because of the enveloping, cockpit like arrangement of dashboard and centre console (picture an inverted W). This arrangement is very impressive looking, but it does tend to confine you, particularly the centre console, which juts out quite far.
As well as feeling like your behind the wheel of a sedan, this vehicle really does drive like a car; it reminds me of the Toyota Sienna in this regard, which also had a car-like feel on the road. It is very peppy; in terms of acceleration, I would rank it on par with the Montana, right behind the Toyota Sienna. The Quest feels very agile and tight; again, not unlike the way the Toyota felt.
2008 Nissan Quest. Click image to enlarge
In terms of braking, it does not seem to stop as quickly as the Sienna or Montana did (or the Town & Country); it is more like the Entourage in this regard.
The Quest’s dark, slate grey exterior colour is very pleasing. In terms of equipment, our test vehicle includes a DVD system, power driver’s seat, power doors, and a power lift-gate (very nice). Unlike the Town & Country we just tested, the power doors and liftgate can be operated from outside the van, with or without the remote control. Our test vehicle does not include leather interior or a climate control system. The Quest’s interior is not unattractive, but not fancy either (the Town & Country’s interior). There does not appear to be as many storage compartments or cup holders in this minivan, in comparison with most of the other minivans we have tested so far. Lastly, the front seats in this minivan are very comfortable, especially in terms of lumbar support.
Carolyn’s first impressions of the 2008 Nissan Quest
In comparison to the other minivans we have tested so far, the exterior styling of the Nissan Quest is certainly unique. Because of this, I’ve been looking forward to reviewing the Quest; it just looks so different.
When we picked up the Nissan Quest the first thing that I noticed was how much more compact it appeared. This minivan has a more car-like look and feel to it, which is a quality that I appreciate. The Nissan Quest’s exterior design is very sleek and curvy (it is not boxy at all) and the roofline on this vehicle does not seem as high, and this might contribute to the low-slung look (in fact, at 1826 millimetres, the Quest is the second-tallest minivan tested, only 4 mm shorter than the Pontiac Montana. The other minivans ranged from 1750-1779 mm: Ed.)
Surprisingly, the Nissan is also a very peppy minivan with lots of acceleration – it might even rank second in this regard (right behind the Toyota Sienna). This minivan also handles and corners very well and offers a quiet and smooth ride – and excellent visibility from the driver’s point of view. I am not sure how I feel about the braking yet. Not unlike the Hyundai Entourage, this minivan seems to want to continue to accelerate or move after you have stepped on the brake! I will report more on this next time (perhaps what I am experiencing is simply a result of slippery road conditions).
2008 Nissan Quest. Click image to enlarge
While the seats are not upholstered in leather, they are very comfortable. This minivan offers a DVD system (with one screen only) which is easy enough to use, heated seats, tinted windows, a power liftgate, power sliding side doors, flexible mesh storage space behind the front row seats, and a fold-away centre console.
There are a few things missing from this minivan that I have grown used to and like, including a conversation mirror, sunshades for the middle row windows, and climate controlled heating and air conditioning.
One thing to note though is that the heating system does seem easier to regulate in this minivan as compared with the Chrysler Town & Country. For example, when you turn the heat on in the Nissan Quest it does not blow really hard on you, forcing you to turn it off or down only to get cold again very quickly.
Laila, our dog, seems to prefer sitting in the second row seat rather than at the very far back. What strikes me about this is that she is able to get up in the second row and make her way onto the seat! I ask myself why she has not already done this in the other minivans. I am thinking this might be because this minivan is more compact inside, thus making it easier for Laila to sit on the seat. For example, the second row seats seem a bit lower to the ground (maybe they are more comfortable/inviting to her!?) and there is no second row console to get in the way either.
The controls in this minivan seem to be appropriately located so far; I will have more to say about this next week. The front dashboard has a very futuristic feel about it because it is designed to “wrap around” the front row driver and passenger; it has very curvy lines to it. While the design of the front dashboard looks very futuristic, it also has the tendency of making me feel a bit claustrophobic (I am not sure if I like it yet).
So far things are going well with this minivan and I find its exterior styling very youthful and appealing.