Minivans just don’t get no respect, as Rodney Dangerfield might have expressed it. Not only do the people movers take their regular hits from the likes of Letterman and Leno, but they’ve seem demand steadily shrink, in recent years. Yet, in an auto industry where diminished expectations have become the rule the minivan still musters enough volume – nearly 600,000 units annually – to convince a fair number of manufacturers to keep pumping them out.
Nissan, for one, which will be launching an all-new version of the Quest for 2011, the well-equipped, comfortable, and functional remake set to reach U.S. showrooms right at the beginning of the New Year.
Coming up with a way to add a little sex appeal to the exterior design of any minivan has been a chore for industry stylists for the better part of three decades. The problem is that the van’s classic boxy shape is dictated by the vehicle’s functionality. Complicating matters is the sliding door, which has vexed more than one talented design team.
But with the 2011 Nissan Quest, designers have given it the old college try. Head on, they have succeeded in giving the front of the new Quest a distinctive face and an overall appealing shape in front of the A-pillar.
The gash along the side for the sliding door, seemingly a defining minivan characteristic, has been offset with character lines, and the rear hatch — another black hole for traditional minivan design — has been given some distinctive sculpting thanks to a rounded spoiler that serves as an eye-catching detail when when the rear liftgate is raised. Another notable detail is the wraparound rear window panel.