By on April 22, 2010

Nissan has released this teaser of the forthcoming 2012 Quest minivan at a company microsite aimed at drumming up interest until the model goes on sale in “early 2011.” And boy, does it ever have its work cut out.

Sales of the last iteration of the Quest (3rd generation) started strong, moving 46,430 units in its first year on the market, and 40,357 in 2005. Since then, it’s sales have been on a crash course with oblivion, dropping to 31,905 in 2006, 28,590 in 2007, 18,252 in 2008, and a miserable 8,437 last year. In fact, things got so bad for the Mississippi-built 3rd-gen Quest, that Nissan canceled the 2010 model-year altogether (a move which also allowed Nissan to build commercial vehicles at its Mississippi plant). The fourth-gen Quest, previewed here, will be built in Japan on the JDM Nissan Elgrand platform, and imported to the US. But will it bring minivan buyers back to Nissan at the old 50k units-per-annum levels?

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26 Comments on “Nissan’s Quest For Minivan Relevance Continues...”

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t blame the Quest alone for this slide, nor would I expect sales to return to 2004 levels. In 2004 there were a LOT fewer crossover/people mover thingys on the road. By 2012, GM alone will have like 10 more such vehicles on the market, all competing for the same customers.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      On the contrary: the 3rd generation Quest compared poorly vs. contemporary Siennas and Odysseys. Reliability wasn’t up to its rivals’, the centered instrument panel was off-putting, fold-flat 2nd row seats were an awkward compromise and couldn’t hold 3 passengers, 3rd row didn’t split, 2nd row sliding doors didn’t have roll-down windows. The dual-screen DVD and skylights were nice, but options only on the higher trim grades.

    • 0 avatar

      It also takes premium gas, which must be a turnoff for people looking for a cheap family hauler.

  • avatar

    Well… it’s no Juke; at least there’s that.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    If the new Quest is really going to ride on the Elgrand platform, its kind of a big deal: that’s RWD, and a development of the FM platform used in the 370Z and the Nissan G series cars. Maybe this will be the G37 of vans?

    • 0 avatar

      That was the supposed selling point of the last Quest: it was the Z (or at least the Maxima) of minivans. The problem with such a supposition is this: does anyone really want a sporty minivan? Imagine “minivan buyers” and “sporty car drivers” as two circles in a Venn diagram.

      There’s not a lot of overlap.

      Nissan did with the Quest what GM did with the GMT900 hybrids: created a car for a market that does not exist. Minivan buyers want smooth, safe, reliable, cheap to own and ergonomically unfussy. Chrysler more or less got this right with the Magic Wagons and anyone who has deviated from the formula has been punished for it.

      Current vans are the results of years of polish and refinement. The new Sienna (I drove the four-cyl while my ’06 was in the shop) is Natures Most Nearly Perfect People-Hauler**: wonderfully benign and perfect at it’s job.

      Nissan is going to have to make a better Sienna, not a G37XXL, if they want traction in this space

      ** The Chryslers are a little more crude, but cheaper and just as user-friendly. The Oddy is sportier, but feels nervous and “big” compared to the Sienna and Caravan.

    • 0 avatar

      I test-drove the Quest before buying my former ill-fated Odyssey. The salesman kept reminding me of the Z-engine under the hood, but I wasn’t impressed. It ran no different from anything else.

      Interestingly, minivan fuel economy hasn’t improved in 15 years – maybe 10% at best. Goosing this van up over the 250 HP that everyone offers today will only hurt its market viability.

    • 0 avatar

      Interestingly, minivan fuel economy hasn’t improved in 15 years – maybe 10% at best. Goosing this van up over the 250 HP that everyone offers today will only hurt its market viability.

      True, but power and space have gone up a lot in that time. The current V6 Sienna gets more or less the same mileage as the original Sienna and a bit better than the blown Previa, despite being much larger and a lot quicker than both

      You raise a good point, and I think it’s why Toyota equipped the 2011 with a four-cylinder. The V6 is more than fast enough and the four should help with city mileage. I expect the Chrysler and Honda vans to follow suit: they’re already behind in fuel economy (especially the VCM Oddy, which really gets very poor mileage considering).

      Me, I’m waiting for a hybrid or PHEV model. Our Sienna lives most of it’s life doing in-city jaunts and the occasional 90km/h rural long haul: perfect for a hybrid powertrain.

  • avatar

    One can only dream.. I dont like minivans but I love practicality. The new Honda and Toyoda are pretty good looking. This may be the best looking of the bunch. The current generation didnt drive well either. Hopefully if you are right this one will drive much better.

  • avatar

    “But will it bring minivan buyers back to Nissan at the old 50k units-per-annum levels?”

    Good question!

    Over the last decade the minivan market has shrunk to around 1/3 the size of its historic peak. U.S. minivan sales peaked at 1.37 million units in 2000. By 2007 (the last pre-recession year) sales had dropped to 793,000 units. 2009 calander year sales only amounted to around 440,000 units.

    During this decade long decline GM and Ford have abandoned the minivan market altogether in favor of suvs and crossovers. Whether or not the new Quest matches the innitial sales of its predecessor, I applaud Nissan for sticking with the minivan.

  • avatar

    I have rented a Quest a couple of times in the last year. Not bad, but not great. My kids liked the dvd player in the mid range model, and it drove fairly well. The interior was really nice. However, one trip was fully loaded with 6 people (all adults and teens) and a lot of luggage. The Quest’s suspension was not up to the job, and we spent a lot of time exploring the bottom of the suspension travel.

    At the National Car Rental location at my nearest airport, most all of the minivans were Quests, so I suspect that the low sales figures translate to even lower retail sales. I also understand that the Quest’s reliability has been far from stellar.

    My impression was that I would be interested in a Quest if the price was right, but it is not a top tier minivan (which I would define as Sienna, Odyssey and Caravan/T&C, not necessarily in that order).

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The grille of the new Quest is already the talk of the town on the micro-whalers blog and heritage whaling forum.

  • avatar

    if it gets a TDI with at least 30mpg, color me interested.

  • avatar

    A diesel minivan in North America? I guess one can dream. I’m still waiting for a TDI Tiguan, but I’m not holding my breath. I think Nissan should follow Ford and GM and just give up on minivans.

  • avatar

    Bring it! Minivans are unparalleled at people and cargo moving, and don’t forget they’re cheaper on gas and insurance to boot. If it carries some of the old Elgrand styling I think it could capture those who miss the VW Eurovan and the RWD/AWD, and 4cyl/V6 options would definitely set it apart.

    Also I like the 2/3/3 seating combos where the middle seat in the second row is removable so you can leave a corridor to the back most of the time.

    • 0 avatar

      If it carries some of the old Elgrand styling I think it could capture those who miss the VW Eurovan and the RWD/AWD,
      You are probably correct. However, that is a very small group as Minivan history has proven over and over. This is going to be another in a long list of Nissan truck failures.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This could work…but Nissan has to offer a true raceresque feel and layout for the vehicle.

    Making it a droll Siennasey won’t help. Nissan can’t sell soft.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Gen I and II were perfectly sized. Why not go back to that footprint for IV?

  • avatar


    I remember when this came out originally..

    Had a interesting Orange like baseball interior color and or material.
    That’s back when the Altima was brand new.. and was stealing customers of the Accord and Camry left and right (now Altima has gone stale).

    The suspension bottoming out.. is an issue I’ve seen on Odys (being that they have a independent suspension.) I believe Sienna has the beam out back.. looks much STRONGER with the awd attached out back. I personally don’t see the point of a indep sus in a van designed to carry.. not where as its supposed to be used to provide improved handling. But maybe.. there are increases with rear packaging, that just cant be done with a twist beam.

    I’m only surmising.. haven’t studied the rear ends at length.– I do notice when they DO bottom out.

    As far as design goes..
    Its decent and yet Nissan.

    But their core customer in their ads is the younger milfy mom.. “who wants a stylish vehicle” — condescending much?.

    As far as the premium gas goes..
    The van probably has the 3.5ltr motor (due to its weight / PORKER size), which is probably tuned for better power… needing the premium gas. Ya could prob tune the 3.5 for lower octane. . .

    But I view these issues.. as almost non-issues.
    The front clip they have shown… looks like a pig. Not like the iconic design of recent, doesn’t even show a lineage to other vehicles, (GT-R / Maxima), and I thought everyone was supposed to be doing corporate fascias?

    But that’s just me.

    • 0 avatar

      I find it pathetic that Ford and GM abandoned the market. Shouldn’t they be trying to establish leadership? How could they just walk away? Anyway, I second those calling for diesel. Why aren’t all minivans and SUVs offered in TDI?

    • 0 avatar

      Ford will be back in the game soon with the Focus based Grand C-Max. A right-sized minivan that should have a low price and get excellent fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar


      I happen to know why — surmise highly why GM and FORD got out of the market.

      There was a huge race.. to put in dual POWER sliding doors.. on the vans.
      Chrysler had them first.
      Ford was putting them on the Windstar.
      GM was still dealing with the 90s dustbuster garbage and retrofitting THEM with a new front clip and manual sliding doors.

      LONGEST longest story short..
      Domestics (FORD / GM) got out of the game cause they couldn’t compete against Chrysler (and its vans) and or couldn’t retool fast enough to be profitable AND the KOREANS got out.. probably because they could probably do a better cheaper job than either the Domestics or the Japanese.

      They all bet on crossovers / SUVS / CUVS… — large / fuckin’ pointless / obsolete and HEAVY vehicles, because they couldn’t get the packaging right on the smaller and more efficient vehicles they had.

      Ford does have something that GM doesnt…
      THE C-max and or S-Max and or S Max Galaxy.
      That is until GM brings over the Orlando.. and badges the shit out of that.

      Think.. SLIGHTLY raised European Focus / Mondeo, with about 2′ extra and a taller beltline and roof.

      And umm… the right size is PORTLY = Sienna / Ody.

      As far as efficient and doing its job..
      Have you ever heard of the b.s ads for the Highlander with the 4cycl? Its a running joke. Ya dont put a 4cycl in that, because of it s weight, a 6 will only do, just like you cant expect efficiency out of the Crosstour (first Honda not to offer a 4cycl for ITS weight), and you cant get anything LESS than the 3.5/3.7ltr 6 in the Quest.. again, for its weight.) Jeez.. is there a pattern here?

  • avatar

    I would have considered this animal if it was here already, but I just got an 09 Sedona for much less $$.

    By the way, am I the only one who thinks that Quest nose resembles a Kia Forte? In any case, I like the clean lines.

  • avatar

    I, for one, would like to congratulate Nissan’s design department on their new, cleaner exterior lines. Of course, now the pricing needs to come in line – they still have the most oddball requirements for purchasing package/options you don’t need, at least for Japanese automakers this side of Mazda.

    Or, as Ferris Bueller might put it, what’s the point? Honda Ody will do everything you need.

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