2006 Nissan Quest
2006 Nissan Quest; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge


By Chris Chase

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2006 Nissan Quest
2007 Nissan Quest

Not everyone is a fan of the most recent Nissan Quest. Not that I think many drivers aspire to minivan ownership, but those who feel these vehicles best suit their needs generally prefer average to extraordinary.

Therefore, those who do like the Nissan Quest probably like it for its quirky looks. That’s why I like it: it stands out from the minivan crowd like nothing else in the segment right now. And there’s a possibility the Quest might become even less conventional in its next iteration, if the Nissan FORUM concept currently making the 2008 auto show circuit is any indication.

But never mind predicting the future of the Quest; let’s look at how this latest version of Nissan’s minivan has fared since its introduction in 2004.

Verdict

Highs: Decent used prices; good performance and cool looks
Lows: Unfortunate reliability history

The Quest uses Nissan’s 3.5-litre V6 engine, matched with either a four- or five-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain generates 240 horsepower (235 in 2007, thanks to updated calculation methods), and gives the Quest all the guts it really needs. Other than that, the only major mid-cycle changes involved an improved interior and a mildly refresed exterior for 2007.

Somewhat surprising is the fact that, according to Natural Resources Canada, a Quest with the five-speed transmission uses more fuel than a four-speed version. With the four-speed, NRCan lists consumption as 12.4 L/100 km (city) and 8.3 L/100 km (highway). Choose the five-speed (it became standard in 2007) and the numbers increase to 13 and 8.5 L/100 km, city and highway respectively.

2006 Nissan Quest
2006 Nissan Quest; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

Still, that’s about average for the class. Note, too, that at least in some model years, premium fuel is recommended for optimum performance. Don’t worry, though: these vans will run just fine on regular, but power output might be slightly reduced. Fuel consumption might be slightly higher on regular, too.

Reliability has been less than perfect, but from the looks of it, most of the problems are with body hardware and electrical accessories, and not the mechanicals. One apparently common issue is a water leak from the headliner near the top of the windshield. According to posts at QuestDriver.com, the problem is linked to blocked drain passages that are designed to route water on the roof down through the body structure and out of the vehicle. In the cases of at least a few owners, the water instead leaks into the vehicle through the sunglasses holder in the headliner.

Some owners talk about brakes that wear quickly, and front rotors that warp easily. Consumer Reports notes many problem areas, notably with the brakes, body hardware and accessories, and interior squeaks and rattles.

2006 Nissan Quest
2006 Nissan Quest
2006 Nissan Quest (top) and 2007 Nissan Quest; top photo by Chris Chase; bottom photo by Haney Louka. Click image to enlarge

Some posters in various Nissan forums talk about air conditioning problems; in most cases, the A/C can’t seem to keep the cool running in extended hot-weather driving. Some owners also complain about the air conditioning system’s tendency to blow hot air from the floor vents, even when only cold air is requested. This apparently was an issue with early Quests.

Check this thread at the Edmunds.com forums for an extensive discussion about problems with the Quest.

The Quest has fared well in crash safety, earning five stars all around from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) saw similar results in its tests, and gave the Quest “good” ratings in both its frontal offset and side impact tests. The Quest came standard with side airbags from 2004.

Less complimentary, however, were the results of an IIHS 2008 bumper test; the Quest failed miserably, racking up the most expensive damage in a low-speed crash test.

2007 Nissan Quest
2007 Nissan Quest
2007 Nissan Quest; bottom photo by Haney Louka. Click image to enlarge

As with most Nissans, the Quest’s resale values are fairly strong, but are lower than those for the highly-regarded Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. According to Canadian Red Book, Quest values range from $14,325 for a 2004 3.5S to $35,125 for a 2007 3.5SE. If you’ve got about $20,000 to spend, a 2005 Quest should work; a mid-range 3.5SL is worth just under $21,000, with the 3.5S and 3.5SE coming in a couple thousand less (S) and a few thousand more (SE).

However, for the purposes of a family vehicle that’s likely to be driven every day, I think it might be worth it to spend a little more for a Honda or Toyota van with a better reputation. The last thing anyone wants – particularly parents with children either needing rides places, or wanting to borrow the family vehicle – is the hassle of car troubles.

If you like the Quest enough to buy it despite the potential problems it might bring, go for it: as an overall package, it’s a refreshing standout from the rest of the minivan crowd. My first instinct, though, is to play it safe. I recommend you look for a good deal on a van with a better reliability record – the aforementioned Odyssey and Sienna, or even the smaller Mazda MPV, for a few examples – before settling on the Nissan. After all, get stuck with a troublesome one, and the only thing that’ll make the Quest stand out are the expensive repair bills.

Online resources

Start your search with QuestDriver.com. It’s not the busiest auto-related forum, but there’s enough activity to make it useful. There’s a Quest section at NissanForum.com, but it’s even quieter. None of the other popular Nissan sites even mention the Quest, much less dedicate bandwidth to it, so if those first two links fail you, head over to the Quest section at the Edmunds.com forums. The posts here aren’t terribly well organized, so it might take some sifting, but chances are that if your question is a common one, someone else will have asked it here.

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First Drives

Test Drives


Recalls

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004084; Units affected: 1,524

2004: On vehicles equipped with the automatic airbag suppression feature option, the front passenger seat is equipped with a seat cushion bladder and sensors used for occupant detection. When a certain child dummy is placed in the required positions for U.S. Government tests, automatic suppression may not occur. Correction: Dealers will inspect the front passenger seat cushion/sensor assembly. If the seat cushion/sensor is found to be operating improperly, the seat will be removed and recalibrated. Nissan in the United States is conducting this safety recall campaign to correct an out-of-compliance condition with U.S. regulations. While there are approximately 1,524 vehicles in Canada affected by this condition, Canadian regulations in this area differ from those in the United States and thus Canadian vehicles are not out of compliance. However, in the interest of customer satisfaction, Nissan Canada Inc. will be conducting a Voluntary Customer Satisfaction Initiative to have owners of affected Canadian vehicles return to their dealers for inspection and recalibration if required.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004121; Units affected: 1,639

2004: On certain vehicles equipped with a power sliding door(s), at an ambient temperature below approximately 4 degrees Celsius, the actuator for the power sliding door(s) may bind. In order to open, close or reverse a power sliding door, the shift selector lever must be in Park. If the actuator is experiencing binding and the driver shifts the vehicle out of Park while a power sliding door is still closing, the door latches may not engage. This can result in the door coming open unexpectedly upon rapid acceleration. Correction: Dealer will replace the actuator for the power sliding door(s).

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005305; Units affected: 7,301

2004-2006: On certain vehicles, the seat adjustment mechanism contains exposed moving metal components located at the rear inside edge of the second row seat. An operator’s finger may be pinched in the mechanism during seat adjustment. Correction: Dealers will install a plastic reinforcement to the backside of the existing seat back cover carpeting.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005306; Units affected: 2,278

2004-2005: On certain vehicles, a third row seat bracket striker may become detached from its mounting bracket due to a broken weld at the point of attachment. Striker separation may increase the risk of injury to seat occupants in certain types of collisions. Correction: The third row seat striker brackets will be replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006230; Units affected: 146

2005-2006: On certain vehicles, the third-row curtain side-impact airbag on the driver’s side may have been installed slightly out of position during vehicle assembly. This could cause the airbag to inflate in a manner different than designed or not inflate at all. The most likely result of this mis-installation is a delayed deployment. Nissan testing has determined that the delay would be about 20 msc compared with the design intent, and the bag will still be inflated before a third-row occupant might interact with it in a side impact crash. Testing also determined that in the event of a non-deployment, the vehicle still exceeds all safety requirements in the third row seats. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, reposition the third-row curtain side-impact airbag. This action is deemed a voluntary service campaign and is not being conducted under the safety act.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007170; Units affected: 33

2007: On certain vehicles, the transverse link attachment to the front suspension may not have received adequate tightening torque during vehicle assembly process. A loose transverse link bolt may cause a rattling noise and a vibration. If the bolt comes off completely, the driver may experience difficulty maintaining vehicle control. This could result in a vehicle crash causing injury or death. Correction: Dealers will replace attachment bolts and torque new fasteners to specified value.


Manufacturer’s Website

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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