(If you have some time this weekend, this contribution, from our reader Robert, will be worth that time — JB)
“I will NEVER drive a minivan.” Thus ended the first
hostile negotiation serious discussion with my wife about our next vehicle purchase.
The story so far: It was the summer of 2005. Our family truckster (a 1995 Toyota 4Runner SR5) was doing a fine job hauling mom and the first born around town during the week, plus me, the dog, and the cubic yard of gear required to travel with a one year old child on our frequent weekend trips to the Texas hill country. Anything I wanted to bring had to survive on the roof.
The 4Runner had been a masterpiece of engineering, form, and function to us. But even with Toyota’s legendary reliability, after 10 years and 135k on the clock, her many trouble-free miles were running out. A starter here, a radiator there, and stranding my wife and infant son on the side of the road with electrical gremlins made its replacement eminent. Contemplating the addition of another child with our already tight space requirements made it a matter of practicality. Her preference for large SUVs and my deep seated frugality made it, um, interesting.
“A Sequoia or Armada will work.”
Though Toyota already has a presence in South Africa, the automaker is eyeing the last untapped market in the world: The African continent.
Minivans are indeed fewer in number.
Supposedly they should to able to hold six or seven.
But the truth is the buyers of these vehicles rarely have room for three these days.
See, I have dealt with hundreds of minivan buyers over the years as a small town car dealer and a writer here at TTAC. Nearly everyone I deal with considers no more than three minivans. To be frank, the majority won’t even consider two which is why Chrysler, Toyota and Honda minivans now control more than 88% of the North American minivan market.
What chance does the Nissan Quest have? Even after 20 years in the public eye?
If you want to become a leading player in a segment (say, minivans), you have a choice: Either do what everyone else is doing, only better, or do something entirely different, and hope that car buyers see the result as better. With the Mississippi-made 2004 Quest, Nissan attacked America’s minivan market using the latter strategy. The styling was bizarre, the suspension tuning was sporty, the seats were French-inspired, and the gauges were centrally located. And even after revisions relocated the gauges and improved the initially abysmal reliability, the gambit failed. That particular Quest came to a slightly premature end with the 2009 model year. Now, following a one-year hiatus, Nissan has launched another Quest. This iteration is very different from the 2004, but still manages to be very different from the competition. Prognosis?
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…