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Ford's been out of the minivan game for years, but the Blue Oval Is coming back in 2012 with the seven-passenger version of its European C-Max. The frugal people-mover will carry a 160-horsepower turbo four to help it scoot even with a whole soccer team on board the Mazda5-size vehicle, without the s. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are right behind it. Look for it this fall, scott evans

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ABSENT FOR 2010, the 2011 Quest hails from Kyushu Japan, rather than Canton, Mississippi and measures 200.8 inches lor.g, 77.6 inches wide, and 71.5 inches tall, making it 0.6 inch longer than the Toyota Sienna, 1.1 inches narrower than the Chrysler Town & Country, and 3.1 inches taller than the Honda Odyssey. As is the case with many aV6-powered Nissan, the Quest uses a CVT paired with a 3.5-liter VQ-series engine, tuned to 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.For this 4485-pound hauler, that brawn equates to 0 to 60 in 8.3 seconds.

The Nissan's second and third rows offer roomy dimensions and fold-flat capability, but they don't drop down into wells, as with the Chrysler's Sto 'n Go second row and the others' third rows.Thus, the Quest's cargo capacity behind the first, second, and third rows maxes out at 108.4, 63.6, and 35.1 cubic feet, respectively. Compared with the Sienna (150.0,87.1,39.1), the Quest is noticeably less accommodating

The Quest rides on a 118.1-inch-wheelbase version of Nissan's D-platform, a solid structure that delivers a luxurious ambiance. The suspension, composed of struts up front and multilink setup at the rear, delivers a supple ride that is still adequately firm for spirited driving Electrohydranlic power steering serves up a firm, linear helm, and the four-wheel disc brakes provide steady, strong stopping power.

Quest pricing opens at $28,550 for a base S, which sports wood-tone trim and pushbutton start, and tops out at $42,150 for an LE that includes navigation, 13-speaker Bose audio, DVD entertainment, blind-spot warning, HID headlamps, and an advanced HVAC system with air purifier and deodorizer.

Following in the footsteps of its overstyled, poorly packaged predecessor, the new Quest is a refreshing dose of minivan moxie. Sure, it still lags behind the competition in some respects—it's not the quickest, most fuel efficient, or most cavernous—and we do wish the side doors slid rearward a bit more, making ingress/ecress easier for the third row But as an overall package, it is impressive. Love or hate its tall, boxy body and wraparound greenhouse there's no denying the Quest stands out among today's DustBuster lookalikes. Its cabin is comfortable, ergonomically sound, and

chock-full of useful technologies and cool conveniences Plus, it's a smooth, quiet, rewarding drive that is competitively priced. For Nissan, the minivan stars may finally have aligned, ron kllno

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