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Nissan's minivan - a long way from the comfort zone

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The new Nissan van, the Japanese automaker's first seven-passenger vehicle in the US market, is designed to be more versatile than a large sedan, yet provide the fuel economy of a compact. Well, it's true, the van does have a lot of room, but the fuel economy is nothing to write home about. Also, it's not the most comfortable vehicle I've been in this year, at least in the front seats. Because of the high step, it's hard to climb into the front, especially for a someone wearing a skirt (my wife can tell you all about that). Grab bars, one on each side, are a help. The sliding door, on the other hand, functions well and unzips the right side of the van for easy entry and exit.

The driver and front-seat passenger sit on top of the engine, and there is far too little spring to the seats.

Also, a negative mark on the comfort scale is the inability to put your feet flat on the floor in front of you. You have to extend your legs out at an angle over the engine compartment. There may be no better alternative, given the placement of the engine beneath the front seats.

Despite all this, the van performs in a pleasing way if the road is straight or has wide, sweeping curves. The pickup performance is more than enough, and the brakes work well.

I will say this: It's the sort of vehicle that seems to grow on you as you build up the miles. My reaction after a few hundred miles is more charitable than after the first 50.

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