can call Nissan's Quest a minivan. But "mini"
is a bit deceptive. This is one of the largest vehicles
to populate the minivan field, even by U.S. standards. Even
backing it into a parking spot can feel like a challenge
until one gets used to the overall girth -- an advantage
when it comes to carrying people or packages, but initially
a bit daunting.
front-drive Quest with car-like handling has been around
for a couple of years now, long enough for its break-the-mold,
undulating appearance and large butt to seem less arresting.
As it did a year ago, Nissan has tweaked the Quest with
refinements for 2006 rather than jumping into major changes.
One addition, bringing the 3.5-liter, transverse-mounted,
V-6 powered models to four, is a new 3.5 S Special Edition
trim level with a flock of standard items: Power third row
vent windows, power right hand door and liftgate, upgraded
audio and six-disc, in-dash CD auto changer. The SL and
top-of-the-line SE trims also get enhancements for '06,
including a new exterior color called Red Brawn.
seven-inch color screen with RearView Monitor is standard
on the SE, optional on SL which also features a special
edition upgrade. Michelin 125-mile flat-tire-range runflats
are available for both models. Either XM and Sirius satellite
radio can be added as a factory-installed option. And the
SL adds heated seats to its Leather and Bose package.
Quest first debuted in the 2004 model year, it was so attention-getting
that drivers in the next lane at stoplights sometimes called
over questions about its unusual center pod instrument cluster.
Such questions are fewer with its familiarity on streets
and highways. Benefits of its size remain, however, with
the open-air feel of the SkyView glass panel roof and expansive
access for loading when the oversized sliding doors are
open. Illuminated steering wheel audio and cruise controls
now wink back at the driver at night.
has kept price increases at a minimum for 2006, with the
new S-level trim version's sticker at $25,300. Other prices
range from a $24,000 base to a loaded SE at $33,500. But
other factory, or port-installed options such as nav system,
dual or single-screen DVD entertainment setups and the SkyView
roof (at $1,500) can push those tallies considerably higher.