Full 2006 Nissan Quest Review
What's New for 2006
Changes to the 2006 Nissan Quest mainly involve trim level and feature adjustments. A new 3.5 S Special Edition trim provides some of the Quest's premium features at a more affordable base price. For the existing trims, there's illumination for the steering wheel-mounted controls, available satellite radio capability and an enhanced front-row storage tray (SL and SE trims). Nissan has also made the rearview monitor standard on the SE and optional on the SL. Michelin PAX run-flat tires are now optional on the SL and SE.
At the initial unveiling of the Quest, spokespeople have used words like "sexy," "sophisticated" and "stylish" to describe the Nissan minivan. Although it's a departure from the traditional bread boxes one often sees lined up in front of elementary schools in the afternoon, whether the Quest really qualifies as sexy is still a point of contention. Regardless of what image it conveys on the outside, the Nissan Quest is designed for family-friendliness on the inside.
Dual-zone automatic climate control is optional, while a rear heating and air conditioning system is standard. Also standard are side curtain airbags to protect the heads of those in all three rows. For power, Nissan Quest drivers have a 3.5-liter V6 engine at their service -- it's rated for 240 horsepower in this application. Although the engine is responsive underfoot, the wide gear ratios and sluggish downshifts from the base four-speed automatic transmission tend to blunt performance. SL and SE models come with a five-speed automatic that is much more responsive. While the Quest does boast distinctive styling, we suggest you shop around before falling for the shape. Though competitive in many areas, the 2006 Nissan Quest still isn't at the top of its class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Nissan Quest minivan comes in four trim levels -- 3.5 base, 3.5 S Special Edition, 3.5 SL and 3.5 SE. The base model comes standard with 16-inch wheels, front and rear air conditioning, cruise, keyless entry, CD audio, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The 3.5 S adds a power-operated rear tailgate, a power-sliding passenger-side door, rear park assist and an in-dash CD changer. Going with the 3.5 SL provides alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver seat, rear-seat audio controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and power-adjustable pedals. Top-of-the-line SEs offer 17-inch wheels, leather seating, a rearview monitor, dual power-sliding doors, automatic headlights, a power front-passenger seat, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Bose audio system and fixed skylights over the rear-seating area. Options include Michelin PAX run-flat tires with 19-inch wheels, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD-based entertainment system (the SE's system features two screens), satellite radio and a fold-away seat package.
Powertrains and Performance
Power is provided by a 3.5-liter V6 engine rated for 240 horsepower. Base and S Special Edition models come with a four-speed automatic transmission, while SL and SE models upgrade to a five-speed automatic. Although the five-speed tranny provides better acceleration, the four-speed's lower gearing allows it to achieve slightly better fuel economy: EPA estimates are 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway with the four-speed and 18 city, 25 highway with the five-speed.
Four-wheel antilock brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, BrakeAssist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and traction control come standard on all Quest minivans. A stability control system comes standard on SE models along with seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants; the airbags are optional on the midlevel SL. In government crash testing, the Nissan Quest earned a perfect five stars across the board. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the Quest received a rating of "Good" (the highest).
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Nissan Quest provides seating for seven passengers. Nissan's minivan offers flat-folding seats for both the second and third rows, a segment "must-have" these days. Unfortunately, the third row lacks the flexible, split-folding design available in competitors. Maximum cargo capacity measures 149 cubic feet (144 on the SE). Interesting features include a center-mounted instrument cluster and information screen designed to put stereo and climate controls right at your fingertips. Unfortunately, the myriad of buttons looks too similar and can be difficult to use while driving. The SE model comes with Skyview windows -- five fixed rectangular openings cut into the Quest's roof to give the rear-seating area an open feel.
While the V6 engine feels powerful around town and on the highway, the five-speed automatic makes a noticeable difference in how that power is delivered and is a worthwhile upgrade. The 2006 Nissan Quest is a willing player in the corners, but overall ride and handling are a few steps behind the class-leading Odyssey and Sienna.