Tracy: With numerous mid-size SUVs from half-a-dozen different manufacturers begging for our attention - can the Honda Pilot still lead the way? Hi, I'm Tracy.
Jeff: And I'm Jeff, and we're here to bring you Auto Trader's new-car review of the 2011 Honda Pilot. Even after a complete redesign two years ago, the Pilot still has that box on wheels look.
Tracy: And it's still powered by a reliable, 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V-6 - linked to a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission.
Jeff: Buyers can choose from four models - LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All models are available in either front-wheel or four-wheel drive.
Tracy: But the Pilot also has lots of competition - crossover SUVs like the Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse are just as good.
Jeff: Yeah, but the Honda has great resale value, and a ton of standard features.
Tracy: For better or worse, the Pilot feels more like a truck than some other crossovers - the high seating position means excellent visibility.
Jeff: All of this glass comes in handy when you're maneuvering a fairly large vehicle. It's roomy inside, too - even for second- and third-row passengers. Fold those seats, and you get 87 cubic feet of storage space.
Tracy: Honda uses quality materials. And those standard features we were talking about include keyless entry? front- and rear-air conditioning? 7-speaker audio, with an auxiliary jack? and CD/MP3 player. We've even got tinted rear windows? and a trailer hitch.
Jeff: Also cruise control? Tilting and telescoping steering column? And an awful lot of buttons and dials.
Tracy: This navigation system is available on the EX-L and the Touring. And you can add a rear seat entertainment system on the Touring as well.
Tracy: Thanks to its 250 horsepower V-6, there's plenty of power. Like all Hondas, the engine is smooth although it can get a little noisy when you really stomp the gas.
Jeff: With our test car's all-wheel drive, up to 70-percent of the power shifts to the rear wheels automatically when needed. And there's a "lock" button that sends more torque to the rear wheels at speeds below 18 miles per hour.
Tracy: Like on bad roads or rough terrain, right? I like the handling.
Jeff: Honda's get good safety ratings, too. We've got a full array of airbags, including side-curtain bags. Plus antilock brakes and traction control. Stopping distance is a little longer than some of the competition - but by just a few feet.
Tracy: I understand that fuel economy is not so great.
Jeff: That's right. The Pilot's MPG is only average. 17 city, 23 highway with 2-wheel drive? 16 city and 18 highway for all-wheel drive.
Tracy: A definite negative now that gas has gotten so expensive!
Jeff: To get behind the wheel of a 2011 Pilot will set you back at least $28,000 for a front-wheel drive LX? about $40,000 for the all-wheel drive Touring model.
Tracy: AutoTrader likes the 2-wheel drive EX-L, with nav system, Bluetooth, and rearview camera.
Jeff: That comes in at $35,995. I'm Jeff.
Tracy: And I'm Tracy. Glad to have you with us for Auto Trader's new-car review of the 2011 Honda Pilot.
Jeff: Right here on Auto Trader, the Ultimate Automotive Marketplace.