Perhaps hinting at a future version of its Quest minivan, or a substitute for the model, the Nissan Forum concept is billed as “the next revolution in family transportation.”

To be unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, the “one box” Forum is 196.4 ins. (498.9 cm) long and designed to appease adults and kids alike, with two separate but linked zones that cater to each of their interests.

At the same time, the Forum is wrapped in sheet metal meant to appeal to both moms and dads, as Nissan research found both parents typically drive the “family vehicle” during the week.

“Traditional minivans are often perceived as the ‘Mom car,’ but (the) Forum is designed to be gender-neutral,” says Rachel Nguyen, Advanced Planning and Strategy-Nissan North America Inc. “The reality is that both Moms and Dads want style, performance and driving pleasure in their vehicles, whether transporting kids or not.”

Up front, parents will appreciate the high-end materials and technology, which include aniline leather seating; aluminum and wood trim; and a floating instrument panel, Nissan says.

But the line begins to blur between the adult and kid areas, thanks to a small microwave in the center console that can be accessed from either of the first two rows.

Taking a page from Chrysler LLC’s new minivans, the Forum has rotating second-row seats, which Nissan dubs “Turntable Seating.”

The bucket formed seats can turn 90 degrees to the side or a full 180 degrees to face the third row.

Differentiating the system from Chrysler’s, the Forum seats are powered by a small motor in the vehicle floor. The front row seats move forward to clear space for the rotations, Nissan says.

Communications technology developed with Bose Corp. is present throughout the vehicle, with parents able to monitor kids via a “Kids Cam” that has headliner-mounted second- and third-row cameras that feed video to the instrument panel’s liquid-crystal display screen.

Parents also can mute all audio in the vehicle and make an announcement over all interior speakers via a “Time Out” button on the steering wheel.

A wave of the hand over the control knob of the Bose Media System brings up its initial interface screen, through which drivers and passengers can access the DVD player, XM Satellite Radio, hard-drive music storage unit, iPod interface, Bluetooth and navigation system.

Another Bose feature is the FreeSpace outdoor audio system, which has speakers mounted on the trailing edges of the Forum’s trackless sliding doors.

The Forum also lacks B-pillars and the front doors open 90 degrees, which in combination with the rear sliding doors create a large opening.

“Not only does this greatly enhance the ease of getting in and out of the rear seats, it allows us to utilize the second-row seat as a sort of bleacher – adding a new dimension to watching sports, picnicking or other outdoor family activities,” says Bruce Campbell, vice president-Nissan Design America, which developed the vehicle.

Campbell says “extra thick reinforced roof and door frames” made nixing the B-pillar possible.

While there is no powertrain in the Forum concept, Campbell says a clean diesel engine would be a possible choice, noting Nissan already has announced such an engine for the next-generation Maxima sedan.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com