By on July 7, 2010

Nissan has released more teasers for its forthcoming 2011 Quest, and we’re starting to get the feeling that it could just be the first mold-breaking minivan in some time. It’s not necessarily the most exciting looking thing, but under that blunt-nosed skin, this Quest likely boasts the RWD/AWD chassis of the newest Japanese Elgrand van and an optional 3.5 liter VQ V6. We’ll wait for official details before we start getting too crazy, but the possibility of a 300 hp, RWD minivan is a little to perversely thrilling to ignore. With all the talk of “Swagger Wagons” and “Man Vans” lately, Nissan may just have the most exciting minivan since the first-gen Mazda MPV (to date, the only minivan to be appear in a rap video) hiding up its sleeve…

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48 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Quest For The Minivan Awesomeness Edition...”


  • avatar
    BDB

    Nice looking minivan (I can’t believe I said that)!

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Looks like Honda Odyssey meets Ford Flex greenhouse.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Cool. Not that I’m a good judge of size, but this looks smaller than than the Sienna and Odyssey, which in my mind was the attraction of the old Quest and MPV vans.

    Give it a screaming little 200 hp DOHC DI 4 cyl and I’m in….

  • avatar
    mjz

    Interesting design. Like it better than weird Oddassee and bland Siena. Interior looks very nice. Should have hidden door tracks for sliding door though. This is now the third Japanese minivan, Honda, Mazda, Nissan NOT to have hidden door tracks!

  • avatar
    Episode26

    It looks AWESOME. Finally a cool looking minivan.

    I now will be checking youtube for flying pigs.

  • avatar
    jacksonbart

    optional 3.5 VQ V6.. can anyone say thrash? besides that its a minivan. Nissan’s latest style on the cars over the past 10 years has sort of lost its way. The once amazing V6 has had its sweetness removed as Nissan keeps increasing displacement while competitors passed them by with better engines.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Just for the record, the first MPV was cramped, slow and not that reliable. It didn’t sell well, either. Not a good benchmark.

    I’m not sure what Nissan is trying to do, or why they didn’t learn from the current Quest’s failure (and that of the Previa, the first-gen Oddy, both MPVs, the GM Dustbusters, the R-Class, etc). Minivan buyers don’t want sporty, risqué or edgy. They want safe, reliable, comfortable and economical.

    • 0 avatar
      hotjazz

      Umm. As one forced to own a minivan… All things being equal, I’d LOVE a vehicle that didn’t assume I gave up on style and sporty enthusiasm just because I have 6 people to cart around. So- this is great news to me. Of course my opinion is just one in millions but there are some of us out here. Just sayin’.

      I’d totally consider this for my next people mover.

    • 0 avatar

      My ex and I almost bought a MPV with 4wd but my ex found a Dodge Caravan AWD for a really good price. The MPV was more fun to drive but the Caravan had more room and in retrospect, all the camping gear might have been hard to fit in the MPV (but then, we camped w/ three kids in a K car before the minivan).

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      correctamundo.

      Here are all the factors that come before cool, sporty or stylish

      Safety
      reliability
      convenience of hauling stuff / kids in car seats
      cost
      comfort

      If we minivan buyer cared a lot about driving dynamics, we’d buy a wagon or sedan. We care even less about looking “cool” or else we’d buy an SUV or CUV. A minivan marketed on those style or rear drive driving dynamics is like promoting a strip club on its cuisine. It aint why the customer is there.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      “Just for the record, the first MPV was cramped, slow and not that reliable. It didn’t sell well, either. Not a good benchmark.”From where are you getting this information? The MPV was the same size as the original Chrysler SWB minivan. If you consider that ‘cramped’, you should check out a Mazda5, which is even smaller. The MPV was substantially more practical and maneuverable than the standard, supersized minivans of today (which are a whole lot closer to fullsize vans).

      As to ‘slow’, that can be directly attributable to Ford’s insistance on using the 2.5L engine. Once they figured out their error and replaced it with the 3.0L Duratec a few years after introduction, things weren’t so bad.

      And how was the MPV “not that reliable”? I’ve never seen anything even remotely related to that comment. At worst, it was on par with any other Japanese-built Mazda product, certainly better than anything domestic, including the Escape-based Mazda Tribute CUV.

      Finally, while it’s true it didn’t sell that well, it wasn’t the fault of the product. It was one of two of the first minivans with the ‘magic’ folding rear seat (the Odyssey was the other). It took everyone else years to come up with the same, popular feature.

      To me, everything about the MPV was ‘just right’. The smaller size and driving dynamics (with the 3.0L engine) made the driving experience closest to a car, with the practicality and hauling capacity of a minivan. I was saddened it didn’t sell as well as it should have and was replaced with the much less practical Mazda5 and/or CX-9.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @rudiger

      I’m not sure we’re talking about the same car. You’re talking about the second-generation MPV, which was a kind of Contour/626-based minivan and yes, it was small and slow.

      I’m talking about the three-door, rear-drive/four-wheel-drive, body-on-frame, four-cylinder that debuted in the 1980s. It was an awful vehicle; my parents were van-shopping at the time and skipped right past it in favour of the much-better-packaged Toyota Van LE (they’d have got a Chrysler, had they not just gotten out of a Dodge Aspen)

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Ah, my mistake. I never really viewed the original MPV as a ‘true’ minivan. With its AWD capability, small size, long nose, and non-sliding, traditional rear doors, it always seemed more like what’s now called a crossover. Even the original Odyssey seemed more like a minivan than the original MPV.

      Frankly, the original MPV is much closer to what’s today called a CUV (most of which are now larger than the original RAV4 which defined the market) and, in that respect, Mazda was ahead of their time.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Probably Mazda was hoping they got a better minivan “formula” in the first generation MPV than the other minivans. Didn’t work out, but there are thousands of them still running around Vancouver. Many of them are starting to look battered, though.

      Hinged back doors with opening windows weren’t appealing when minivan customers bought into the sliding door concept.

      I test drove one once and I liked it. I wanted a light-duty off-road vehicle. The 1st gen MPV could be had with 4wd, raised suspension, a low range, and skid plates. There were even a very few sold with manual transmissions. So equipped, they were almost as capable as a Pathfinder off-road. But this hardly appealed to minivan customers. Neither fish nor fowl.

      When they squared up the nose on it, I thought they should mount the spare on the back end and sell it as an suv.

      As for reliability, the 1st gen MPV had automatic transmission and some sort of costly piston/cylinder problems.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I sill wish Toyota sold the Vellfire here in the states. That thing is pure evil with sliding doors.

    One potential pitfall: the oddly-positioned shifter blocks the driver’s access to the Radio/HVAC controls. Designers need to take Ergonomics 101 again.

    Why the heck don’t they just put the shifter on the steering column?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadEd

      I had the same thought. The dash otherwise looks nice. It seems to me that most folks who buy minivans have a bit of a practical streak in them. Ergonomics matter to them. But I bet this decision is one of simple economics. They probably don’t have a US certified steering column in their inventory that has a column shift…thus the compromise position in the center stack.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Not bad looking. Distinct hood, lower roofline….are minivans evolving back into station wagons?

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    RWD is fun, but packaging compromises are a bad idea. I think there’s a reason the Sienna is the only one with AWD – hard to wring the last bit of space out of a design if you have to deal with all the hardware.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      The Sienna’s the only minivan with AWD because it uses run-flat tires. Honda’s experiment with the PAX system was a dismal failure and necessitated the continuance of the on-board spare, which is forced amidships centrally located between the 1st and 2nd rows of seats due to the rear seat well, precluding use of a rear drive shaft. The Chrysler vans used to offer AWD and my guess is the take rate was so low they abandoned AWD in favor of the market-first (and only) disappearing 2nd row seats, which again preclude the use of a drive shaft.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    It sounds like it will have all the necessities to get a rave review in Car and Driver, which is of course the standard-bearer when it comes to minivan shoppers.

  • avatar
    mythicalprogrammer

    How come every auto blogs I go to they, the comments, compare this to the Flex?

    The Ford Fairlane Concept and the Nissan Forum Concept looks different to me.

    Is it the rear wrap around window? What is it that makes it looks like a Flex?

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Definitely very cool. However, unless they put in a stow n go or similiar 2nd seat fold down I am afraid it will only be admiration from afar.

  • avatar
    SomeDude

    I think the pictures are very deceptive here. With all this James Bond theme going on… like it’s black, it’s dark, etc. Paint it white, take a picture of it in a regular setting, and I bet it’s going to look as dramatic as a cereal box. And, then again, all what most MPV buyers need is encapsulated in the Caravan: it’s practical, cheap to buy, and cheap to fix.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    “is a little to perversely thrilling to ignore.”

    …is a little TOO perversely thrilling to ignore.

    Speaking of perverse, do you think the 2nd and 3rd row of seats lay flat together? And do the windows have those knobby devices like the old VW buses had…where you can string up your own home-made curtains? If this is a perverse-mobile, it’s best to shield the outside world of what’s happening inside.

    If something rubbery yet wet is tossed out the window, please don’t let it hit you upside the face.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I’ve read in poorly translated articles that the 2011 Elgrand is FWD. I don’t think Nissan is stupid enough to release a RWD minivan these days. The packaging would suck.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I agree… Rear-wheel drive and one of those lame-ass dash-mounted automatics? Perhaps they will include the 2-speed CV transmission they offer in the Maxima….for the rear-wheel-drive “performance” minivan sports mamas? I don’t think so.

    So utterly lame…

    • 0 avatar
      potatobreath

      I don’t get why people rag on the dash-mounted shifters. They seem more straight forward to me to use than a column shift. I like the current Grand Caravan.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    I’m still not sure why the Japanese automakers aren’t bringing more of their vans to the USA. The Toyota Alphard/Velfire look good, the Nissan Elgrand is a sharp ride that would draw lots of praise for its styling and the new Mazda MPV (a design that is now 4 or 5 years old here) is still my favorite, I think they would sell in huge numbers.

    Instead, what we are getting are mid range vans with no real appeal but still with heavy prices. Then, when no one buys them, the Japanese USA distributors claim that no one wants minivans anymore. Give us the choices that Japanese consumers get and I think you would see a real revival in minivan sales.

    Its funny, I see people talking about brining back the station wagon. That was supplanted by the minivan for a lot of practical reasons. The minivan was supplanted by the SUV for a lot of stupid reasons and now crossovers offer the worst of both worlds by giving us hulking-on-the-outside, small-on-the-inside, truck looking cars that offer none of the advantages of trucks or vans.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      JDM vans are narrower than US counterparts. Honda’s attempt at bringing the 2nd gen Odyssey as the Lagreat didn’t go well. The narrower Elysion replaced the Lagreat; interestingly the new Elgrand is wider in hopes that one vehicle can sell well in 2 markets. We’ll see.

      As for the Mazda MPV: 2nd-gen MPV sales were flat before it went off the market, despite $5K rebates. Mazda instead introduced the CX-9, which as a trendy CUV requires less marketing support. FWIW the still-smaller 3rd gen MPV lacks the desirable fold-in-the floor 3rd row.

      Americans still want vans, but they have to be super-sized – capable of holding 8 corn-fed adults and still scoot 0-60mph in <8 seconds. The Mazda5 is almost 50% fleet, it’s going to take both $4/gallon gas and another cash for clunkers to hit that 30K/yr sales target projected last week for the upcoming 2011 model. It’s going to need that 7th seat, for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      Why are the Japanese automakers not bringing more of their vans to the USA?

      Well, probably for the same reason the Japanese automakers are not bringing their JDM cars to the USA – because US consumers are not going to appreciate cramped, slow, cardboard cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Let’s not forget the huge role CAFE played in eliminating the full-size station wagon…and full size car, for that matter. Better to have those in the market for a large vehicle buy a 10 mpg Hummer than a 20-25 mpg Caprice, apparently. Were these consequences unintended?

      To the subject at hand: a RWD minivan could work, if executed better than the GM clunkers of yore (Astro), and if Nissan can develop some build quality in its minis for a change. But I agree with others that the packaging will be a challenge. Raising the center of gravity would imho negate the positives of RWD.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    Screw that. I want something practical and fuel efficient. Where are the diesels available in Europe?

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      You want want something practical and fuel efficient? Buy a Caravan or T&C!

      Where are the diesels available in Europe? Mostly in Europe, but some gems are available Stateside. Like the TDI. It has sure garnered a lot of praise from American car buyers (sarcasm intended, of course).

  • avatar

    RWD? Can it drift?

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    The Toyota Vellfire from the side reminds me of the first generation Ford Aerostar; nice but not that great. Judging from the pictures, the new Quest is a great looking vehicle, but I can’t believe Nissan would build in in RWD/AWD–too many packaging problems–there would go the stow & go seats. I once had a ’95 Plymouth Voyager and the 2nd and 3rd row seats were an absolute pain to take out and reinstall-not to mention all the space they took up in my garage when they were out of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    That’s even uglier than the minivan it replaces. What happened to Nissan’s styling department? Is Bangle on retainer?

  • avatar
    baggins

    there is a reason that mini vans have gotten bigger and bigger, and the smaller ones (MPV, First Gen Ody and Sienna) were either removed or replaced with more manly sized models.

    We buy a minivan because we want to haul of lot of kids and assorted stuff. And we want plenty of space for changing diapers on the floor,etc.

    Bigger is better. I wish my Sienna were 6-9 inches longer. It can be tight to get a rear facing car seat in the second row and a passenger in the 3rd. I’d like 6 inches more in the seating area and another 3 inches in the cargo area. At 78 inches, its probably wide enough, tho.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Any non-suv with 300hp and awd piques my interest; even a minivan. IF it rode like sport wagon except with sliding doors that could be an awesome combination.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Japanese minivans are quite appealing to me. Having ridden in a Toyota Innova numerous times, I would have no qualms about buying a 4 cylinder 8 seat minivan, but in an Alphard, Vellfire, or Elgrand body.

    The Elgrand would probably be better positioned as an Infiniti in the US/Canada IMHO, but otherwise the Quest is a good candidate as my next car.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The problem with “minivans” is that they all weigh around 4,500-4,800 lbs. Don’t tell me that there is any hope for performance or agility until they spend a little coin to get the weight down.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The weight isn’t as much when you think about it. The Sienna is 4500 with the V6; that’s not a lot more (and in some cases, a little less) than most full-size sedans and on par or less than most crossovers and certainly less than a traditional SUV.

      Now, consider the useful space inside a minivan versus, say, a Ford Taurus. Also consider that most of the vans haven’t gained nearly the mass their sedan counterparts have over the past decade.

      Overall, I think they do quite well in the weight department.

  • avatar
    gsp

    As an Odyssey owner I can say that there is a market for a higher performance product as long as utility does not suffer too much. Price does not matter as the price of the upper end minivans is already expensive. I know plenty of high net worth people who would love a higher end minivan but end up with Escalades etc because there are no options in the minivan market. R Class should have had sliding rear doors, the doors that they have on that thing are way too long and can’t be used in parking lots and garages. That sole error cost MB huge in sales. Honda and Toyota have thinned out their products with cheap plastics, no soundproofing in doors and underbody. Our 2007 Odyssey is louder than my 1984 K Car was.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    I really find it hard to believe that minivan buyers care about performance, provided that it’s competent. I suppose that if I felt very insecure about my masculinity AND had lots of money, I would be excited about something with fancy specs and lots of horses. But if that were the case, I’d probably be shopping for an SUV. What matters is practicality and, secondarily, economy. I’d also love something a tad smaller since I happen to live in a city. The Mazda5 is too small, given the huge bulk of my kids’ car seats. But is there’s nothing on the market a tad bigger. Another foot in length would do the trick. Otherwise, I welcome Nissan’s return to the market. Otherwise Honda and Toyota practically have it cornered. Kia? Don’t trust it. And no rational consumer would purchase a Chrysler product.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      Uh…. what universe do you live in? The T&C and the Caravan handily outsell both the Sienna and Odyessy….so I’m not sure what your definition of what a “cornered market” are.

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    Comfortable all wheel drive 300 bhp minivan? Isn’t that a 2006 Mercedes R500? Big V8, dual exhaust Man Van! Heck, they’ll even drop a 6.2l V8 in there if you’re just that crazy. I’ve never seen an R63, but they do exist. In fact, there was a free AWD delete option in 2006, so you could order a RWD 300 bhp Man Van if that was your thing- except no sliding doors, but that’s a good thing if you are trying not to look like a minivan. I like the R-class, but I think I’m in the minority there. This Quest looks really great- looking forward to a detailed review.

  • avatar
    etapar

    I really like the ouside, except for the track which is not hidden. I like the back window wipper on the 2011 Toyota Sienna that is hidden much better.

    I think the dash looks the best of all the minivans, I just do not understand why thay can not move the shifter back on the column…or out of the way.

    How hard can it be to hide a track???? At least it is not as ugly as the 2011 Honda. I was really hoping for something special….but nissan falls short again….Can you say SWAGGER WAGON.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Christ..

    Hey Nissan…

    Nice spot for a SHIFTER.
    Ya been talking to Chrysler or stealing copies of the Routan?!

    Cut that shit out..
    Put the shifter back where it should be.. around the column, or next to the wheel….. maybe down a bit..

    BUT DAMN… STOP TALKING TO CHRAPSLER about VANS!
    *Whispering, So.. did ya manage to steal their folding seat in floor design yet?*


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