When Nissan talked with Ford about the production of an entry in the minivan segment back in 1987, the automaker did not anticipate the rigorous journey that the Nissan Quest would take on its way to the top. It might have taken a long time and several stumbles along the way, but patience paid off for the Nissan Quest when it finally took its spot among today's top minivan choices.
1993: First generation
Starting as a joint venture between Nissan and Ford, the Nissan Quest made an average entry into the minivan market in 1993. The first generation Quest featured many decent characteristics of a midsized minivan: a 3.0 L V6 engine that outputted 151 horsepower, a 4-speed automatic transmission, and a seating capacity of seven. Nissan's partnership with Ford also brought about the Mercury Villager which was Ford's rebadged version of the Quest.
Although the Nissan Quest was a good step up from the discontinued Nissan Axxess, it didn't quite make a splash during its first generation. Due to some issues with interior space and the seating layout, the first generation Nissan Quest had a tough time competing with more polished minivans from other automakers.
1999: Second generation
When the second generation Nissan Quest rolled out in 1999, it had just as tough a time gaining ground as its first generation--especially with Toyota's 1998 introduction of the Toyota Sienna in 1998 and the continuous success of other vans like the Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Town & Country.
Although it wasn't quite at the top of the pack yet, the second generation Nissan Quest managed to coast through the minivan market with an engine boost and a sleeker design. The Quest offered a 3.3 L V6 engine with 170 horsepower and three trims: the base GXE trim, the more luxurious GLE trim with leather seats, and the midlevel, sport SE trim. More design and functionality upgrades included a sliding door for the driver's side, a sunroof for the GLE and SE trims, seatbelt pretensioners, better sound system, and a more spacious cargo area.
2004: Third generation
By the Quest's third generation, Nissan and Ford already put an end to their joint venture. As a result, Nissan adapted the platform of its very own Altima and Maxima for the Quest's 2004 redesign.
The third generation Quest had some nice upgrades such as a roomier cabin, four trim levels, and better handling. Sharing the award-winning VQ engine with the Altima and the Maxima, the third generation Nissan Quest started to gain its footing in the segment although it was still overshadowed by several other minivans.
2011: Fourth generation
The fourth generation is when the Nissan Quest was finally able to break into the top minivan choices. The 2011 Nissan Quest had a much sleeker look compared to the other conventionally-designed minivans. It also featured four trim levels that offered a wide array of upgrades, really smooth handling, a hefty 260 horsepower from its 3.5 L V6 engine, and an overall more luxurious feel.
With its markedly improved style, comfort, and functionality, the Nissan Quest finally became one of the big four in the minivan segment.