Upcoming 2011 Nissan Quest is another Styling Shocker

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Is it the year of the minivan? It certainly appears that way, with a completely new and thoroughly improved Toyota Sienna leading the way, followed up soon after with the introduction of Honda's all-new Odyssey, and now a totally updated Nissan Quest slated for next year.

Nissan hasn't released a lot of details about its 2011 Quest yet, but half a dozen photos shed light on exterior and interior styling. What do you think? Does Nissan have a hit on its hands or will the next-generation Quest be too unorthodox to pull in traditionally conservative minivan buyers that keep going back to their Caravans, Sedonas and the aforementioned Japanese top-sellers?

"The new Nissan Quest will provide those looking for functional family mobility with a stylish, sophisticated choice not often thought of in the minivan segment," said Mark McDade, Director, Marketing, Nissan Canada. "Nissan recognized it was time to provide the market with more than just a 'people-mover' and with the new Quest we've done just that."

Hmmm… doesn't McDade's comments echo similar statements made when introducing the outgoing Quest that was discontinued after its 2009 model due to slow sales? It was the sports car of minivans, and truly delivered spirited performance, albeit odd styling and its eccentric and inconvenient interior ergonomics, improved in its later years mind you, were its downfall.

The new 2011 Quest is about to shock the industry once again, with styling that makes Ford's new minivan replacement, the Flex, seem conservative in comparison. Nissan says that "the new Quest follows Nissan's commitment to bold, segment-leading design," and they're not kidding. The Japanese automaker goes on to say that its new Quest delivers "consumers with the size, safety, functionality and comfort that a minivan has to offer – without sacrificing style or driving pleasure," all good qualities.

The outgoing Quest certainly was an excellent performer as far as driving dynamics are concerned, and therefore fans of the unique model will be happy to hear that performance is once again high on the priority list for the new van. Interior fit, finish and materials quality should be much improved too, following a relatively recent trend the automaker initiated across its broad lineup; cross-model interior quality is now almost premium-like and much more upscale than Japanese rivals Toyota or Honda. Expect more soft-touch surfaces and top-tier switchgear, traits that will likely woo some buyers away from most competitors' vans that aren't as appealing inside.

"This new Quest will be the answer for those who need the space of a traditional minivan, but don't want to feel like they are driving one," added McDade. "The images released today are just a preview of what to expect when Quest arrives next spring."

No one can predict the future of a new model and its acceptance by consumers, and pricing will go a long way to securing the new Quest's fate. If its window sticker manages to undercut its Japanese rivals it will probably fare fairly well, but it will likely continue to be a niche player in a market segment filled with conservative buyers. After all, most people don't want to attract attention to the fact they're driving a minivan, and the new Quest will no doubt attract a lot of attention.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Minivan, Nissan, 2011, Quest, $30,000 - $39,999,

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