The Nissan Quest, a minivan produced by Japanese automaker Nissan Motors since 1993 is now in its fourth generation of production. The first two generations of the Quest were produced as a joint venture of Nissan with Ford. Ford sold the vehicle as the Mercury Villager. The vehicle was first revealed at the North American International Auto Show held in Detroit in 1992.
Up till 1999, the Quest was equipped with a 3.0-L Nissan VG30E V6 engine. However, a new 3.3-L version of the same engine was added in the lineup later along with some other minor changes such as introduction of driver side sliding door, grille and revised rear. In 2004, the Quest was offered with an entirely new design. The Villager was withdrawn and Freestar-based Mercury Monterey took its place. The third generation Quest was based on FF-L platform already used in Altima, Maxima and Murano. In addition to platform, it also received the same 3.5-L VQ engine similar to these vehicles. The fourth generation model shares its platform with the 2011 Nissan Elgrand.
First Generation (1993–1998)
The first generation Quest was launched in 1993. The idea was to design a vehicle to compete with the progressing market of minivans. The Quest was launched as a successor to the 1990 Axxess in US and Canada (1990-1995). The rear-wheel drive Vanette was also ceased in 1990 in favor of Quest. In early years, the Quest was available with Nissan’s 3.0-L VG30E SOHC engine, delivering 151 hp (113 kW) and torque of 182 lb-ft (247 Nm). Ford set certain conditions for Nissan regarding the modifications in VG30E engine so that it could be used in Villager and Quest. The first requirement from Ford was to make the engine non-interference or free-running, i.e. no damage would be done to the valve if timing belt breaks. The other requirements were: addition of an oil level sensor and repositioning the oil filter assembly for easy access.
There were two trim levels for Quest including: XE and GXE. Following some technical problems, Nissan signed an agreement with Ford so that giving them the authority to manufacture minivan in North America and in return they were authorized to sell it under rebadged name as Mercury Villager.
Second Generation (1999-2002)
The second generation Quest was launched in 1999 with more aerodynamic appearance. It also featured driver’s side sliding door. It was powered by a 3.3-L VG33E SOHC engine, delivering 171 hp (128 kW) and torque of 200 lb-ft (270 Nm). Of the two trim levels, the XE was withdrawn leaving behind the GXE as base model along with two new trims including: high performance GLE and the sporty SE. After the 1995 Nissan Axxess, the Nissan Quest became the first minivan offered with 4-door body styling.
In 2001, the Quest received some minor modifications, such as revised front and rear styling, and new alloy wheels. GXE came with a rear stabilizer bar, whilst the SE version came with acceleration-sensitive strut valve and a strut lower brace.
Both Honda and Toyota started producing minivans with larger wheelbase by the end of 2002. Nissan didn’t offer any Quest model for 2003.
Third Generation (2004-2009)
Mercury Villager was discontinued in 2002 after which the Quest was revised for 2004 model year. The third generation Quest used the Nissan FF-L platform sharing it with Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima. It was made slightly longer than the Chrysler long-wheelbase (LWB) minivans. With third generation Quest, Nissan shifted its production to a new Canton plant, in Mississippi.
It was equipped with a common 3.5-L VQ35DE engine sharing it with Altima, Maxima and many others. The engine was rated at 240 hp (179 kW) and torque of 242 lb-ft (328 Nm). The third generation Quest featured a flat folding rearing bench with two middle chairs fold nearly flat into the floor. It had an interior space of 211.9 cubic feet (6.00 cubic meters).
Fourth Generation (2011- )
The fourth generation Quest is manufactured at the Nissan’s Shatai Kyushu plant, Japan. It was built for 2010 model year and was first unleashed at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2010. It is based on the Nissan Elgrand as both shared the same platform. It uses the Nissan’s 3.5-L VQ series engine with an output of 260 hp (194 kW). It is available standard with front-wheel drive. The US version is slightly wider (i.e. 13 cm) than the Japanese version so as to keep it distinct from the tall skinny look of Japanese version. In North American the fourth generation Quest is made available in 2011.