A re-badged version of the Mercury Villager until 2002, the Nissan Quest is a minivan produced by Nissan that would be more upscale in comparison to the offerings at the time. The Quest debuted during the '92 North American International Auto Show was a new model designed together by Ford and Nissan.. The Quest was produced by Ford Motors from 1993 until 2002 and Nissan took over production in 2004.
The first generation Quest was produced in 1993 until 1998 and featured seating for seven and had second row bench that could be removed to slide the rear seats forward. A successor to the Axxess; which sold in the U.S. in 1990 only and in Canada from 1990 until 1995, the Quest was made by Nissan to compete in the minivan segment. Replacing the rear-wheel drive Vanette which was discontinued in 1990, the Quest was powered by Nissan's 3.0 L VG30E SOHC engine which produced 151 hp and 182 lb/ft of torque. Before agreeing to use the VG30E in the Villager and the Quest, Ford required that Nissan implement some design changes, one of these being that the engine was to be modified to 'become a non-interference or free-running engine'. (This was there would be damage to the valves if the timing belt broke.) The addition of an oil level sensor and relocation of the oil filter assembly for better access were additional updates required by Ford.
The Nissan Quest was available as XE or GXE models and this generation was produced at Ford's Ohio Assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. Due to manufacturing issues, Nissan arranged with Ford to assemble the minivans in North America and in turn they were alloyed to rebadge it and sell it under the Mercury brand as the Village. Numerous interior parts, including the power window controls, the radio and heater controls were adapted from Ford and were very similar to the Ford Aerostar. The minivan shared the modified version of the VG30E from the U11, and early J30 Maximas, along with the 4-speed automatic transmission from the Maxima. Unfortunately the Quest engine seems to have a crucial flaw in the crankshafts, as they break at the front stub. Around 1995 the diameter was increased from 25 to 27 mm. The Quest differs from the Villager with a different side trim, front and rear bumpers, taillights and grille. For 1994 the Quest received a driver's side airbag and the passenger airbag was added in 1996. Changes were made to the front and rear fascia's that same year along with the elimination of the motorized shoulder belts and headlights and tail lamps.
In 1999 the second generation of the Nissan Quest was unveiled as a re-branded version of the Mercury Villager. This generation lasted until 2002 and featured a few updates from the previous generation that included a more aerodynamic look, a longer wheelbase and a driver's side sliding door. The minivan also received a power boost through the 3.3 L VG33E SOHC engine which now produced 171 hp and featured 200 lb/ft of torque. The GXE was moved up as the base model as the XE trim was discontinued and two new trim levels were introduced to the Quest. The GLE was the new top of the line trim, and SE was the sport model. This Quest model became the first Nissan minivan to feature 4 doors since the '95 Nissan Axxess.
For 2001 the Quest received various updates which included front and rear styling and new alloy wheels on all models. The GXE received a rear stabilizer bar and the SE now featured acceleration-sensitive strut valving and a strut tower brace.
In 2004 the third generation of the Nissan Quest was debuted and unlike the prior two generations, this model wasn't a re-branded Mercury Villager but a brand new minivan. Uniquely styled, the 04 Quest featured a large moonroof and had all-new placement of the dashboard. Standard on the Quest SE and GLE models were all new interior gauges and fabrics and also a 130-watt sound system. The luxurious GLE models received an in-dash six-CD changer and a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel. Replacing the floor-mounted model was an optional overhead family entertainment system, though it could still be specified for sunroof equipped SEs and GLEs. Pretensioners were given to front seatbelts.
Featuring more cargo space than the previous generation, the '01 Quest was slightly longer in length. For 02 Quest wasn't sold in Canada and wouldn't return until the third generation model in 2004. By the end of this second generation, both Toyota and Honda marketed solely long-wheelbase minivans. For the 2003 model year no Quest models were marketed.
The third generation of the Nissan Quest was redesigned for the 2004 model year following the '02 discontinuation of the Mercury Villager. Using previous-generation Nissan Altima and Maxima platform; FF-L, the Quest was slightly longer than the Chrysler long-wheelbase minivans. With this third generation, production was moved to a new plant in Canton, Mississippi. Also powered by the same 3.5 K VQ35DE engine from the Maxima and Altima, the Quest produced 240hp and features 242 lb/ft of torque.
The minivan sports a flat folding rear bench and two middle chairs that fold nearly flat into the floor in 2004. This generation also features an unusual moonroof glass arrangement and space for 2 DVD screens with aux input. The SE models features side front airbags, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), curtain airbags for all rows, dual power doors, power rear hatch, Traction Control, Bose audio with RDS and folding second row seats, rear backup sensors and dual climate control. For the 2007 model Nissan redesigned the dashboard and the front grille and also relocated the DVD player from under the front passenger seat to the IP stack.
Issuing a statement that it needed room at the Canton plant for production of a commercial vehicle the Quest didn't return for the 2010 model year. The fourth generation of the Quest was debuted in 2011 and production took place at the Shatai Kyushu plant in Japan. On a current platform shared with the Nissan Elgrand, the Quest is powered by Nissan's 3.5L VQ series engine with 260 hp. Trying to avoid the 'tall skinny' look of Japanese vans the USDM version has an extra full 5 inches of width, and front wheel drive is standard. Debuted at the 2010 Los Angeles International Auto Show, the Quest went on sale in North America as a 2011 model.By Jessica Donaldson