Nissan has never been a sales leader in the minivan segment; even the daringly designed third-generation Quest failed to capture minivan buyer's hearts, minds, and dollars. This new 2011 piece might be different.

The exterior design is dazzling, with an aggressive face, and sweeping glass treatments. And it's not so mini - it's a good-sized piece with lots of functional room inside. The media crowd's reaction at today's unveil was generally positive. And the Quest is stuffed full of innovative features. One of the design aspects that will appeal to many is its relatively low load floor and step-in height. This makes it easier to load cargo and people inside; especially if the latter are small kids, or senior types who might find climbing into a large SUV a physical challenge. Not so this.

Nissan's come up with some pretty trick fold-and-stow moves for the second- and third-row seats too, which create useful load floors for the Home Depot trips without being removed. And a one touch unlock/open power rear liftgate is standard on the SL and LE trim level models. There should be plenty of power, courtesy of Nissan's long-serving and much-loved 3.5-liter VQ family V-6, rated at 253 horsepower in fourth-gen Quest form.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect the 2011 Nissan Quest to be very competitive with newly updated vans from Honda and Toyota. Stay tuned for our first drive and first test stories, but on the surface, this one looks like a player.