New Car/Review

1998 NISSAN QUEST GXE

by Tom Hagin

nissan

SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 26,049
Price As Tested                                    $ 28,756
Engine Type               SOHC 2-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 181 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                                     4035 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    20 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P215/70R15
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            17/23/21
0-60 MPH                                         11 seconds
Max. payload capacity                          1,290 pounds
Max. towing capacity                           3,500 pounds
     * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

In a market filled with new and improved, redesigned and re- manufactured minivans, the Nissan Quest continues to hold its own against the biggies of the family-hauling vehicle business, remaining the best-selling imported minivan year after year.

Three models are available: the base XE and the luxurious and new-for-1998 GLE, as well as the most popular version, the mid-line GXE which we tested this week.

OUTSIDE - Quest is clearly one of the better-looking minivans on the road. It took other makers years to catch up to its avant-garde styling, and many buyers polled listed its look as a key factor in the purchase decision. It was styled by Nissan Design International in La Jolla, California, and shares most components with its cousin, the Mercury Villager. Its prominent front bumper and large low-placed air inlet gives it a muscular look from the front. It could use a sliding side door on the driver's side, like most others in its class. Its swing-up rear hatch has separate glass which is quite handy when stacking cargo against the tailgate. A rear wiper/washer is standard. GXE models come standard with aluminum wheels and 215/70R15 all-season tires.

INSIDE - The dashboard controls and switches are well-placed, and there's lots of room to slide in behind the wheel. With all seats in their original places, there's room for seven inside, with a small amount of luggage space leftover behind the rearmost seat. It's easy to get to the middle row, but climbing into the rearmost bench seat requires effort. If more cargo and less passengers is necessary, the middle seats can be removed and the rear bench seat can slide forward through an elaborate slotted track system covered by a floor mat. We appreciated the small slide-out storage box under the passenger seat, and another below the dash for storing CDs and tapes. Standard GXE items include an AM/FM cassette stereo, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, door locks, antenna, mirrors and driver's seat, along with lighted vanity mirrors and a security system.

ON THE ROAD - Quest continues to use a 3.0 liter V6 engine with 151 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, just as it did when it was introduced in 1993. It accelerates well, gives ample power under most conditions, and surprisingly is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, thanks to a specifically-designed torque curve which gives it more power in the low-rpm ranges. That's enough to pull a small boat or camp trailer, but still leaves some muscle left over for people and cargo. Power delivery is smooth and consistent, and about the only complaint we have is its propensity to make lots of racket at full throttle. But most Quest models won't be driven that way, nor would an enthusiast driver belittle it for lack of performance. Its engine is mated to an electronically- controlled variant of the Nissan Maxima's four-speed automatic transmission. Shifting is smooth and reliable, though those same enthusiast drivers can fool its electronic controls with a quick on-and-off throttle motion, which creates abrupt shifts.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Quest uses unit-body construction, with independent strut-type front suspension with coil springs and a beam rear axle with leaf springs. An anti-roll bar is standard equipment up front, and the optional Handling Package adds a rear stabilizer bar, wider tires, performance-tuned shocks, a trailer wiring harness and a full-sized spare tire. This extra hardware gives Quest the ability to tackle twisting roads easier, even with its nearly 4000-pound bulk, although the pricey Luxury package is mandatory to get the better-handling setup. Some body lean is evident in heavier turns. Power rack and pinion steering is standard on all Quest models, and handles the job well. And on all but the base XE model, four wheel disc brakes are standard, as is an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Handling Package: $549; Luxury Package(semi-automatic air conditioning, sunroof, six-disc CD changer): $1,249; wood interior trim: $419; destination charge: $490.

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