Call it Revenge of the Minivan, part deux, as Nissan's Quest - one of the cubic-feet leaders - enters the second model year of an avant-garde design that could help some space-craving car shoppers shake off SUV fascination, delivering all that hauling capacity (about 150 cubic feet) at a relatively wallet-friendly 25 m.p.g. (highway) and with the same snarling 3.5-liter V6 engine found in Nissan's 350Z sports car.
So why all the French? The Japanese automaker joined with Renault in developing Quest for 2004 - and the van still hints at a Gallic school of design: Rear wheels are shoved back near the corners in the tradition of Renault's old Le Car. The interior, with controls clustered in a circle mid-dash, evokes a European bullet train. So do all the features lodged in the headliner, including twin DVD screens in the $36,000 SE model we tested.
Any shortcomings in interior feel - you put Quest in gear with a plastic joystick - are outweighed by such amenities as four rear "skylights" and a rear bay that yawns wide at the touch of a button, like a space station's cargo bay. Vive Le Van!