Inside, the exterior's plain, generic theme carries through, although the front dash's modern layout provoked plenty of pokes and prods. The futuristic bird-inspired console feels space age-y, and not necessarily in a good way. The tan/beige/grey/silver color scheme, the extra-large pixilated climate control temperature readouts, and the navigation screen flanked by enlarged car status icons had some staffers wondering if they had just strapped into the Starship Enterprise. On the plus side, the dash's buttons are clearly and easily placed for quick access by the driver; its heated/cooled front seats are very cushy; and the overall interior space is plenty roomy.

My three weekend cohorts fielded no complaints when it came to backseat entertainment. Our Limited trim arrived with Option Package 17, otherwise known as the Power Moonroof/Navigation Package, the one with the huge 9-inch rear DVD display attached to its ceiling. Other amenities include black roof rails, rearview camera, and wireless headphones. That's in addition to the standard rear air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity (which doesn't link to the center display and takes a while to pair), leather upholstery, and an impressive harmon/kardon 10-speaker sound system.

Loading two riders in the hilariously diminutive third seat can be difficult. The act of sliding the rear seat forward then folding it to allow for ingress isn't hard. But the subsequent process of reclining the seat halfway upright, then pushing it in line with the rest of the bench, then searching for a bright orange lever (it repositions the seat to its original place) located under the thigh padding takes time. You practically need an instructional class to master the whole series of events, and some nicely developed biceps.

On real-world streets, the Tribeca rides comfortably and quietly. (Turn up the very loud and clear stereo system if all that silence gets boring.) Front seats provide a commanding view of the road ahead, while the steering is somewhat light, but direct. During an unexpected light snow storm in the mountains east of San Diego, the all-season Goodyears stuck sufficiently and inspired nothing but confidence, albeit at a tortoise pace.