New Car/Review

1997 NISSAN QUEST XE

by Tom Hagin

Nissan

SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,249
Price As Tested                                    $ 22,918
Engine Type                            3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 183 cid/2960 cc
Horsepower                                   151 @ 4800 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               174 @ 4400 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  112.2"/73.7"/189.9"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3920 Pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    20 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/75R15
Brakes (F/R)                                     Disc /disc
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 70 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            17/23/20
0-60 MPH                                       11.8 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       18.3 seconds @ 78 mph
Towing-capacity                                 3500 pounds
     * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

When the Nissan Quest was introduced in 1992, well after the minivan wars had escalated, it adhered to the design directives set forth by U.S. makers, which are to make a van that maximizes interior space and practicality, yet gives the ride and handling of a car. And while those makers have already built new, vastly improved models, the Quest continues to compete successfully - for now. Available in base XE, like our tester, or upscale GXE trim, it bridges the gap between the mini-minivan and the nearly full-sized minivan on the road today.

OUTSIDE - Quest is smaller than some others in its class, but has a chunky, solid appearance. It still looks modern among the current crop of mini-haulers, especially with last year's restyle, which brought new front and rear sheet metal, bumpers, grille and head and tail lights. New-for-1997 are a few more color choices, and improved side-impact protection, which now meets government standards. A conspicuous lack of a sliding driver's side door may lessen its appeal to some minivan shoppers, as would the lack of an extended-length version, but Quest more than makes up for this with its ride and handling. The rear door is a two-piece design, with separate glass for loading lighter items. The door is also light weight, which makes it very easy to close.

INSIDE - Like most minivans, Quest's interior is designed for versatility. The standard seating arrangement uses front buckets, a two-person middle bench, and a three-across rear bench. The front seats are positioned high and comfortably padded, but could use a bit more side support. Those in the middle row will find ample space, but three adults in the rearmost seat is a squeeze. A handy feature is its rolling rear seat, which can be slid forward on its tracks to add a bit more cargo room in back. When all seats are in place, there is an available 14.1 cubic feet of cargo space. Removing the middle row seat and sliding the rear seat all the way forward provides nearly 115 cubic feet of cargo space. Standard Quest XE features include air conditioning, an electric rear window defroster and rear wiper, tilt steering and variable speed intermittent windshield wipers.

ON THE ROAD - Quest uses a 3.0 liter V6 engine, fitted with overhead camshafts and multi-point fuel injection, and puts power to the road with a front-wheel-drive transaxle. It produces 151 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, about mid-pack among competing minivans. It provides good power from a standstill, and continues to pull well into the upper ranges of its rpm limit. This is impressive given the fact that Quest weighs in at nearly 4000 pounds, more than some larger minivans. Its powerplant is a direct descendant of the previous generation Nissan Maxima engine. A four-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox available, and generally provides smooth shifting under most circumstances, but we found it unwilling to automatically downshift to low gear while climbing steep grades.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Nissan makes much of the car-like manners of its Quest, and rightly so. It rides on independent MacPherson strut front suspension, with coil springs and a large 33 millimeter front anti-roll bar. The rear underpinnings use a solid beam type axle and leaf springs. A rear anti-roll bar is optional, and really helps keep the van flat in corners. We recommend it. The power rack-and-pinion steering has been universally praised for its precision and taut, responsive feedback. The same can be said for its ride, but there is the expected body lean and tire scrub during heavy cornering with a full load aboard. Its rigid body platform improves the handling and ride isolation. And while our test vehicle came with the standard braking system, front discs and rear drums, an optional setup brings four-wheel discs and an anti-lock braking system (ABS), which we also recommend.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, improved side-impact protection and three-point safety belts are standard; ABS is optional.

OPTIONS - Our tester came with the Power and Glass package at $1,249, which adds power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors, as well as deeply tinted glass.

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