2006 Saturn Relay Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth ride and handling, lots of nifty interior storage spaces, innovative multimedia storage system, available all-wheel drive.
  • The 3.5-liter V6's power and refinement not up to class leaders, second-row seats aren't side-to-side adjustable, side airbags don't cover all three rows.
Other years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Though the 2006 Saturn Relay features a slick interior and distinctive styling, it doesn't have the on-road finesse of its minivan competitors.

Vehicle overview

The Relay is Saturn's first minivan and it marks a kind of departure for the carmaker. Since the brand's introduction, GM has billed Saturn as "a different kind of car company" and for the most part it has stayed true to that formula. The Relay is Saturn's first all-steel paneled vehicle, and it's not going to be the brand's last. Saturn is calling the Relay a crossover sport van, but really it's a minivan that shares most of its mechanical components with other GM vans. Saturn hopes to capture buyers who want the versatility of a minivan but prefer the rugged looks of an SUV. With its simple styling, the Relay stays true to the Saturn formula. More upscale-looking than other Saturns, the company's van offers plenty of luxury along with the expected versatility. Seat-mounted side airbags for front- and second-row occupants are optional for 2006, certainly a worthwhile addition, although many competitors now offer three-row airbag coverage.

Inside, the Saturn Relay seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split, allowing families to carry a mix of passengers and cargo. The interchangeable overhead console works on a rail system that allows owners to move, rearrange or add storage components as they see fit. In addition to the standard rear DVD entertainment system, the Relay is available with a 40-gigabyte PhatNoise mobile digital media system that allows owners to store and play thousands of MP3s and/or several dozen movies. We're not entirely sold on the whole "crossover sport van" concept. To our eyes, the Relay looks more like a minivan with a really big and flat front end. Subjective styling issues aside, the 2006 Saturn Relay offers budding families a myriad of interior features and solid overall competence, but still doesn't match the driving dynamics, conveniences or safety features of the best-in-class minivans.

2006 Saturn Relay models

The Saturn Relay comes in one size and two trim levels, Relay 2 and Relay 3. Standard Relay 2 amenities include power windows, mirrors and locks; air conditioning; an eight-speaker sound system with a MP3-capable CD player; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; the OnStar communications system; cruise control; and keyless entry. The Relay 3 adds rear air conditioning, a power driver seat, alloy wheels and upgraded storage. An all-wheel-drive system is available, and is bundled with a rear load-leveling suspension. Other noteworthy options include the PhatNoise portable 40-gig digital media system, a remote vehicle startup system, a 115-volt AC outlet, dual power-sliding side doors, rear park assist, XM Satellite Radio, leather seating and a sport-tuned suspension.

2006 Highlights

Second-row side-impact airbags are newly optional. A power passenger-side sliding door is now standard on the Relay 3, along with first-row side airbags and traction control. An optional 3.9-liter V6, rated at 240 horsepower, is new for 2006.

Performance & mpg

The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 200 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. A 3.9-liter V6 with 240 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque is optional on the Relay 3, but only on the front-wheel-drive version. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Safety

All Relay models come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Side-impact airbags for first- and second-row occupants are optional, but there's no protection for passengers seated in the third row. The StabiliTrak stability control system is available when the Relay is equipped with the optional Safety and Touring packages. The NHTSA gives the 2006 SaturnRelay a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal crashes. For side-impact crashes, the Relay earned four stars for protection of front occupants and five stars for the rear occupants. In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, Saturn's minivan earned a "Good" rating (the highest).

Driving

The standard V6 power plant is down on power compared to its competitors, so we recommend you opt for the stouter 3.9-liter V6. The Saturn Relay's suspension is on the soft side, yielding a smooth ride and average handling for this class. Upgrading to the optional sport suspension does provide more responsive handling, though maneuverability in tight spaces is still compromised by the van's large turning radius. Braking capability is average among minivans.

Interior

The Saturn Relay seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split. A pleasing two-tone color scheme with faux wood accents dramatically brightens the interior atmosphere of the van. Folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row seats are available. An overhead rail system provides rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and can be outfitted with various storage containers. Springing for the PhatNoise digital media system saves you the hassle of juggling DVDs on road trips, while an optional remote vehicle start system makes it easy to warm up the van on cold mornings.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Saturn Relay.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Could be better
Bryan,07/04/2006
Our Relay has been a vehicle that our children have come to love with the built in DVD player. We couldn't go anywhere without it. It is a smooth ride with a few bugs that need to be worked out. The molding has a problem with sticking to the vehicle. Our tires (Continentals) were worn to the wires after 11,000 miles. The automatic sliding passenger door pops when closing. Other than that we really like the vehicle. OnStar is not the best thing if you dont live in the city. Have tried using it when things go wrong with the vehicle and they cannot get the contracted towing companies to come out to give us a tow. The first year service is ok for free but we would not pay for OnStar.
Mixed blessing
Scott Nelson,07/29/2005
Our Saturn Relay has been a great vehicle to drive and carry the crew around in. Good acceleration and handling for a large vehicle. The trim needs a lot of work! Exterior trim is peeling off, door trim and plastic mouldings behind the sliding doors peel off when the door opens. Interior trim around both front doors is broken, and fell off, what a pain.
I loved this van
LEW,01/20/2010
This was the best van I ever owened. I had one problem with one of the doors, it wouldnt close sometimes. The gas mileage wasnt to good but other than that the kids and I loved it.
What Relay did I Buy??
SpanglishScienceMom,08/18/2006
Wow! After reading all these great reviews, I'm wondering if we are talking about the same vehicle. The mpg has never been over 16.8, and that's w/all freeway driving. In the summer during the hotest days of Aug, the A/C refused to work twice. When usung the A/C mpg tops out at 15.1. Lots of minor molding, door sticking, cup holder derailing issues. Met other Saturn owner at dealership w/ identical issues plus they suffered oil leaks that were not satisfactorily handled. I miss my '91 4-Runner!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2006 Saturn Relay features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Marginal
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2006 Saturn Relay

Used 2006 Saturn Relay Overview

The Used 2006 Saturn Relay is offered in the following submodels: Relay Minivan. Available styles include 3 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 4A), 2 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 4A), and 3 4dr Minivan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 4A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Saturn Relay?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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