What's New for 2001
Despite the company's decision to kill the Quest after a short 2002 model run, Nissan imbues the 2001 Quest minivan with a raft of minor improvements. Styling front and rear is freshened, and redesigned alloy wheels debut on all models. Entry-level GXE gains a rear stabilizer bar, while sporty SE receives acceleration-sensitive strut valving and a strut tower brace. New interior gauges and fabrics spice things up, and a 130-watt Super Sound system is standard on SE and GLE. Luxury GLE models also get an in-dash six-CD changer and a wood-n'-leather steering wheel. An optional overhead family entertainment system replaces the former floor-mounted model, though that rather archaic unit can still be specified for SE and GLE Quests equipped with a sunroof. Front seatbelts now have pre-tensioners for improved occupant protection, and crash test scores are up this year, as well.
Nissan completely redesigned the Quest in 1999 in an attempt to keep pace with superior vans from Honda, Chrysler and Ford. But that effort has proven too little, too late. Quest isn't a good seller, and will be axed from Nissan's lineup after a short 2002 model run. Don't fret; Nissan will reintroduce the model mid-decade, with far more competitive design and packaging than this current version.
For 2001, Quest is available in three flavors: value-oriented GXE, sporty SE, and luxurious GLE trim. This year, GXE has standard 16-inch wheels and a rear stabilizer bar. SE models are tuned more aggressively, featuring acceleration sensitive strut valving and a strut tower brace under the hood for more stable cornering. GLE, which comes standard with leather seating and the handy Quest Smart Shelf system, gets a new in-dash CD changer and wood accents on the steering wheel rim.
Versatile passenger space is the Quest's stock-in-trade with a standard driver's side sliding door and a third-row limousine seating option among its many features. With seven-passenger Quest Trac Flexible Seating, you can get 24 different combinations with the bench seat and 66 with the second-row captain's chairs. Second-row seats can fold down into a table, or be removed completely. The third-row seat also folds into a table, folds further for more cargo space, or slides forward on integrated tracks -- all the way to behind the driver's seat. To enhance stuff-stashing space even more, buyers of GXE and SE models can add an optional multi-adjustable Quest Smart Shelf with mesh net located behind the third row.
Under the hood is a 170-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine that makes 200 foot-pounds of torque down low for good punch in traffic. This engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Antilock brakes and power steering are standard on all Quest models and the suspension provides a smooth, quiet, sedan-like ride underneath GXE and GLE models. SE models are tuned to provide more driver involvement with the road.
The Quest's dashboard has a functional layout with the audio unit located above the climate controls for easier access. An automatic headlight on/off switch (standard on GLE and SE) can be set to sense the onset of darkness and automatically turn the headlights on. Visibility is great, too, from upright but comfortable seating that's tempting for a long trek. Gauges are small, but acceptable, and controls are pleasing to operate. The entertainment system, optional for 2001, is an overhead unit featuring a new, larger screen to better pacify rambunctious rear passengers.
Distinctive in shape and enjoyable on the road, Quests perform adequately, though more passing power would be appreciated. Except for the upright seating position, this Nissan's handling traits make it easy to forget that you're inside a minivan. Furthermore, Nissan has addressed last year's issue of sub-par crash test scores with the 2001 model, and the Quest now makes near-perfect scores across the board. The Honda Odyssey still has it beat, though, and offers more interior room and automatic sliding doors to boot. So keep in mind those invaluable words of wisdom, "My momma told me, 'you better shop around?'"