Review: 2002 NISSAN QUEST SE


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SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

      Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,399
      Price As Tested                                    $ 26,605
      Engine Type                   SOHC 12v 3.3 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
      Engine Size                                 200 cid/3275 cc
      Horsepower                                   170 @ 4800 RPM
      Torque (lb-ft)                               200 @ 2800 RPM
      Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/74.9"/194.8"
      Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
      Curb Weight                                     3983 pounds
      Fuel Capacity                                  20.0 gallons
      Tires  (F/R)                                     P225/60R16
      Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
      Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
      Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/five-door
      Domestic Content                                 60 percent
      Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.36

PERFORMANCE

      EPA Economy, miles per gallon
         city/highway/average                            17/24/22
      0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
      Maximum cargo capacity                     135.6 (in cu-ft)
      Maximum towing capacity                        3,500 pounds

      * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
                                  
      Minivans like the new Nissan Quest are designed for growing 
families with lots of kids says Matt Hagin. Bob Hagin says they're 
handy for "mature" people too, especially when their own kids bring the 
grandchildren around to visit.

     BOB - Nissan got into the minivan market a little late when it 
showed up in '93 with its Quest and from the beginning it never really 
got off the ground. That was in the bad old days before Renault bought 
into the company and put the dynamic Carlos Ghosen in as head man. He's 
already turned the company around and has exceed his three-year 
resurrection target.

     MATT - Too bad he didn't arrive in time to do a marketing number 
on the Quest. It's really a neat little people-hauler and it got better 
in '99 when the company gave it a complete redesign. This year it's 
available in three degrees of trim, the middle-of-the-pack being our SE 
version but the top-seeded GXE has all the prerequisite bells and 
whistles. The standard sound system isn't much to write home about, but 
there are optional systems that are more appealing to music 
connoisseurs. The bottom-of-the-line GLE would be the perfect model for 
a growing family that plans to keep their van for a long time and for 
whom a low monthly payment is a plus.

     BOB - If that growing family includes "assertive" kids like you 
guys were when you were little, the buyer better get the optional 
second row bench seat. It has integrated child seats and washable 
upholstery. Buyers that picture themselves more "sporting" in nature 
can go for a Quest in SE trim like our tester. This is the "hot-rod" 
version that has an interaction between its acceleration and the 
valving in the shock absorber struts. Other "sporting" aspects of the 
SE are a set of audio controls on the steering wheel, air conditioning 
in back, a standard CD changer and second-row bucket seats. The GLX 
model has all this plus leather upholstery, a power driver's seat and 
heated seats up front. There's an optional video entertainment system 
for back-seat passengers, but it's a pretty expensive item just to keep 
the kids happy. You kids entertained yourselves with books and arguing when you were little.

     MATT - One of the strong points of the Quest is that the seating 
can be changed around to at least 65 different configurations if it has 
those bucket seats in the second row. It probably requires a separate 
owner's manual to figure them all out, but I guess it's handy if the 
owner wants to show off with automotive tricks. Unfortunately, there's 
not much pazazz in the 3.3-liter V6 engine. It only puts out 170 horses 
which is a little on the light side compared to its competition. It 
makes 200 pound-feet of torque, which is good, but it's still a little 
short on passing power. I was surprised to find that the solid rear 
axle was hung on leaf springs, which is pretty old technology. The 
transmission is a four-speed automatic with an overdrive but the fuel 
mileage is slightly above average, getting 17 MPG around town and 23 on 
the highway. The press kit claims that the Quest has a towing capacity 
of around 3500 pounds but it certainly couldn't be done in the fast 
lane. At that, the engine has considerably more beans than the '98 
version. Until the revamp of '99, Quest only had 150 horsepower which, 
as I recall, was hardly enough power to allow it to stay up with 
traffic.

     BOB - But you have to remember that minivans aren't built for 
Stoplight Grand Prix racing, Matt. They're built to transport people, a 
lot of them being pretty young. Those multi-positional seats can be 
adjusted to hold lots of child seats and the fact that it has lots of 
convenience items is a definite plus for use as a family car. Our SE 
was easy to drive and the upright front seats provide a good view for 
the driver. The turning circle is fairly tight for a front-wheel drive 
vehicle, so parallel parking in sedan-sized spaces isn't an exercise in 
boat-docking. The GXE has all the bells-and-whistles necessary to make 
for pleasant cruising and the only options on it are a power sunroof 
and fog lamps, and I'm not sure that the latter items are used very 
often. Minivans are handy even for guys my age.

     MATT - I've noticed that you keep a couple of child seats in your 
own minivan, Dad. They must be for use when Tom and I leave our kids 
with you and Mom to babysit.

     BOB - Old habits are hard to break.
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