Pros: Stylish, Good Handling, Peppy Engine, Lots of Features for the Money
Cons: Questionable Build Quality with lots of Squeaks and Rattles
My family's first minivan was a 1994 Nissan Quest, which ran great and was a very fine car. Great quality construction, reliable engine, easy to drive (I even learned to drive on it), and great handling. Given the good luck with had with the 1994, we went with a 1999 Quest, but it ended up being a big mistake.
Of course, the Quest still offered the same great handling and was very easy to drive. Among all the minivans on the market, the Quest is probably the easiest to park and drive and handles the most like a car. Take it into a hard cornering move and you feel like you're in a Maxima, not a minivan! Despite our overall dissatisfaction with the car, the Quest deserves its fair share of praise for its handling alone.
The Nissan V6 engine was also quite peppy and moved the Quest around town with a great deal of ease. It offered just enough power to make it seem like you weren't driving a minivan. Add the sporty styling of the SE Model, and you have the ultimate vehicle for people who need a bit of a compromise before they can settle for a minivan. Despite sliding door tracks that were not hidden in the glass like other minivans (our 2001 Chrysler Town and Country hides the sliding door tracks quite well), the Quest did look sharp. With shiny alloy wheels, metallic paint, and the fact that not many people have them, the Quest SE looks way better than the thousands of Dodge Caravans and Ford Windstars on the road.
The van came loaded with features, too. The sliding rear seat track and removable captain's chairs made it easy to configure. Among other things, the Quest SE also had a sunroof, CD Changer, parcel shelf in the back, integrated garage door opener, power everything, and rear a/c and radio controls. The sunroof was especially fun to have in a minivan ... I don't believe Chrysler even offers one in their vans, although Honda and Ford may offer one in their vans.
Despite the van's good qualities, it was plagued with very annoying and ever-present build quality issues. Within a month of driving it off the lot, it rattled, squeaked, and simply didn't feel like a solidly built minivan. At least in terms of the the interior and body, the Quest was like a bucket of bolts thrown together out of the Ford Motor Company parts bin (seeing as it was made alongside the Mercury Villager). Although we lived with some of the minor, annoying problems, we did take it in for some, but were always told the dealer was "unable to duplicate problem." Rattles and squeaks are hard to pin down, but they can make an otherwise fine car seem that much worse. Again, the Quest could have been great (our 1994 was a fantastic van), but ours was just poorly made and that is enough to make us not recommend it to anyone. We even gave it the nickname "Rattle Trap" after a while! Among the things that rattled, squeaked, and didn't work properly were the following:
(1) Both sliding doors squeaked. You'd hear something in them every time you hit a bump, and they never shut tightly.
(2) The rear vent windows didn't shut tightly, and the latches were constantly breaking.
(3) The captain's chairs in the middle row were absolutely notorious for rattling. You could feel them rattling when you sat in them, and you'd hear them rattle incessantly when nobody sat in them. You could even see them moving in place when you looked in the rearview mirror! Although some rattling can be expected, this was beyond anything that could be considered "acceptable."
(4) The power windows in the front constantly came out of their tracks, and we were always getting them fixed.
(5) On a few occasions, the van's alarm went off randomly in our driveway. We had to call the dealer, and they gave us a funny way to kill it by turning the ignition key quickly two times. Apparently, they knew about the problem!
(6) A number of other funny rattles, including in the dash area and in the tailgate.
Again, the van COULD have been great if it just didn't have all the annoying rattles, squeaks, and build quality issues. We drive didn't drive it long, either - only about 30,000 miles - before we traded it in for a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country EX that has been a much better van. Everyone always says Chrysler has quality control issues, but the 2001 Town and Country has it all over the Quest in terms of build quality. We've driven it 35,000 miles so far, and it hasn't been nearly as bad as the Quest was.
Remember, the Quest CAN be a good car, but be sure to check for rattles and squeaks if you buy a used one. It looks great compared to other vans, the engine is certainly great, and it handles fantastically. I just sure feel bad for whoever ended up with our old one!