Minivans are not that exciting. You tend to only buy one out of necessity – your third child is on the way, so your family will soon outgrow your humble sedan, or maybe you just want a cavernous space to haul whatever. your family loves to transport. They’re endlessly versatile vehicles, but they’re not the kind of thing you get excited about buying and owning.
But that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are minivans from the golden age of the segment that can still provide you with a unique and perhaps even memorable ownership experience. This “fun” can come from anywhere – a neat interior design that makes even mundane tasks a little more interesting, a V6 engine that makes good power and a loud noise, a trunk so big it produces its own gravitational pull, or a design that looks good against the backdrop of overstyle CUVs in 2020.
There are a few vans that could fit that bill, but none tick all the boxes as effectively as the third-gen Nissan Quest (2004-2009). The first and second generations were rebadged Mercury Villagers, which had moderate success but not very well done, and the 2011-2017 fourth-generation Quest is one of the ugliest vehicles of all time.
But this third-generation minivan, especially the pre-facelift model, is a harmonious compromise between styling, interior packaging, and (relative) performance of early 2000s vans that were woefully overlooked in its heyday but still stand out. has aged quite well – which is not the case. easy feat for a 2000s Nissan product – and it stands out as a really interesting product Used Vehicle proposal today.
If you’re on the hunt for a used van, the 2004-2009 Nissan Quest should be at the top of your shopping list, and here’s why.
He sings the song of the 350Z
Part of the charm of the Quest lies in the platform it shares with Nissan’s “four-door sports car”, the Maxima. Thus, it inherits certain handling characteristics of the Maxima, which are respectable, and above all, it shares its engine. The 2004-2009 Nissan Quest comes equipped with a 3.5-liter “VQ35” V6, which you’ll also find in the Altima, a handful of Infinitis and the 350Z sports car.
In the Quest, it was tuned to make 240 horsepower, but even so, that was enough to give this van a respectable towing capacity of around 3,500 pounds, and more importantly, it still looks like a VQ35 – that is, pretty good looking if you don’t cut the exhaust and solder your own straight pipe. You can get aftermarket exhausts for the Quest if you’re that inclined, but even the stock system makes enough noise.
Otherwise, the VQ does a good job in easily motivating this new millennial minivan. It’s quick enough to get out of its own way without disturbing any of its 7 passengers, and it’s pretty fuel efficient when driven carefully. The VQ has also proven to be quite reliable in this application. There is a known issue with timing chain guides and tensioners that can fail, but you will know immediately if you have an engine affected by telltale clicking noise on startup. This problem can be easily fixed by most mechanics. Your biggest enemy will be the same as any older vehicle – rust. No car is immune, so be thorough when reviewing any one before you buy.
Fortunately, the Quest missed the XTRONIC CVT disaster, which removes an almost guaranteed point of failure that plagued most other Nissan models. The Quest used a 4-speed automatic transmission for the first few years, which was upgraded to a 5-speed unit in 2007 when Nissan gave the pickup a moderate facelift.
Its interior is awesome
What you see in the photo above are the optional glass sunroofs, one for almost each passenger. They look like the viewing windows of a safari car and open the cabin in a way that only natural light can do. Between these windows is a roof console that runs down the spine of the pickup truck, with a total of four storage compartments, four adjustable reading lights, and four air vents to keep your head cool – a feature. essential in a vehicle for large families.
Elsewhere, the cabin is full of clever storage solutions. The rear seat folds down into the trunk floor, a feature still uncommon in the early 2000s MPV market. The middle row seats could also fold down or be removed entirely. There are at least 1.5 cup holders per passenger, and the seats are laid out in a theater style, meaning each row is a little higher than the one before it so rear passengers have a better view through the front window (which in my experience is a great remedy for motion sickness).
Mom and Dad can also enjoy the Quest’s smart interior with its sci-fi dashboard and cluster of gauges. Tesla’s Model 3 reignited the debate over center-mounted gauge cluster displays, but in the 2000s that was a fairly common trend. Among others, the Toyota Echo, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the R53 Mini Cooper, the Nissan X-Trail and a few Saturns have used this design and there is still no definitive answer to whether it is better or worse. than the steering wheel gauges. This is something you would like to experience with your own eyes to find out if this will be a problem for you.
But the Quest’s dashboard is cool for more than the gauges. The center console “barrel” comes out of the ground at a sharp angle, meaning the gearshift, HVAC, and stereo controls are presented to you on a sloping surface. It looks like something a Star Trek together, but that also makes it very ergonomic. You don’t have to strain your wrist to operate any of the controls, so besides looking cool, it will help you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome for a bit longer.
The Quest came with all kinds of toys, especially if you checked the “Technology” package. That would give you power sliding doors, a power tailgate, a DVD entertainment system for the rear passengers, GPS navigation, an upgraded stereo and much more. You could get a rear view camera, but parking sensors were standard. Just like the traction and stability control.
They are Cheap
Third generation quests are inexpensive. Truly, really cheap. You can find clean ones with reasonable mileage and loaded with features for well under $ 6,000, and the rougher ones can be bought for as little as two thousand. It’s a parcel a car for really not a lot of money, and if you need a big, convenient family transporter, that’s a hard argument to ignore.
Style may be part of the reason why these vans fell out of favor so quickly. It’s certainly not pretty, and its vaguely French design (due to Renault’s tumultuous ownership of Nissan) makes it less familiar to American eyes. It looks like a pregnant Renault Vel Satis, but against the background of not only modern cars but also contemporaries of this pickup truck, it looks unique and original. It’s certainly nicer on the eyes than the fourth-gen Quest that succeeded it, and this straight-line design era from Nissan continues to look better compared to the bizarre directions the brand’s designers have taken in recent times. .
The costs of ownership shouldn’t be huge either. As mentioned above, the VQ35 engine doesn’t have many common points of failure and you won’t have to deal with the XTRONIC CVT time bomb. Buying one with minimal electronic functionality would be the safest bet for longevity, but power doors shouldn’t be a reason not to buy an otherwise clean van. The main things to look for are body rust, oil leaks, and the aforementioned clicking noise that indicates a broken timing chain guide.
The Quest is not a car for the enthusiast driving enthusiast, but other than a much smaller Mazda5 it is the closest you can find in the 2000s minivan market. It has a great engine, interior. shiny and the coolest dashboard of all MPVs. It all adds up to a unique experience for the driver and passengers, which is something you can’t really fit into a car. It takes a combination of things, some intentional and some not, to turn a car into an experiential car, which this one manages to do, and it so generously gives that experience to 7 people at a time.
If you’re looking for inexpensive family transportation or a large vehicle to haul your belongings, take a look in your area for a used Nissan Quest. You don’t usually buy a minivan with your heart out, but a quest can still have some glimmers of joy for the person who has to balance their love of cars with their love for their growing family.
NEXT: 15 Craziest Modified Minivans That Are Anything But Boring
The car was presented to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
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