Pros: Best looking, strongest, best warranty above ground pool.
Cons: Costs a bit more than other brands.
I purchased a 24' Illusion about 6 years ago because it was the best looking above ground I could find. I've owned two pools prior. Most above ground pools look cheesy, but the Aqua Leader has a very classy look. The first thing you notice is that the pool is truly round. That is, the rails are not segmented straight sections, they are curved formed high impact resin. The next thing you notice is how strong the rails feel, they are about 9" across and have hefty uprights that keep them in place. The sides of the pool are very nice pattern. Another feature I like about this pool is the liner; instead of coming oversized (needing to be trimmed leaving an ugly section of liner showing), its liner comes perfectly sized for the pool. It has a special lip at the edge that hangs the liner over the wall about an inch. The liner is warranted for 15 years. Real nice.
I've had problems with bottom rails rotting out on other pools, but this one has an all resin bottom and top rail that comes with a 30 year warranty! No rust!
The sides of the pool are extra thick steel covered in multi layers of material to protect it. Mine still looks like the day it was installed. It even has a 6 ft section that is stainless steel that provides the holes for the pump connections. You place this unpainted section where it won't be seen. I'd never seen this on a pool before and the strength of the stainless in the areas where there are protrusions is appreciated. The skimmer basket has an extra large opening that is about double the size of most brands.
I had my pool professionally installed for about 450 bucks, it was worth every penny. These guys knew what they were doing and the whole job was done in about 3 hours. No mistakes.
Yes, I shopped around and this pool was slightly more expensive. I paid about 2000 for mine in a 24' size. This compared to say 1200-1600 for other brands. What I found though was that the cost of the pool itself was just a mere fraction of the budget to put up a pool. In particular, you're likely to spend more on a deck and landscaping (unless your yard is perfectly level) than the pool. My pool was installed on sloping yard and needed to be excavated (175)and a retaining wall installed. My first landscaping quote came in at 3500 so I did that work myself. It still cost me 800 in materials plus plantings. After all that work I paid a carpenter to build me a deck for about 2500. I had him build a curved front edge to match the pool, which was a slight challenge for him but looks real nice. Oh and don't forget the electrician to run the dedicated ground fault protected line to the pump, the pool permit, and the inspection costs. See what I mean, add it all up and the pool is only about 25% of the total cost.
Don't get me wrong, now that it's done both the kids and adults alike love the pool. Add a through the side light and you'll enjoy it after the kids go to bed too. Just make sure you budget the whole project. Oh and buy the Aqua Leader it will outlast the other brands and looks better at the same time.
2006 update: this pool is still holding up well. The resin on the plastic rails has faded a bit (from gray to lighter gray) from the chlorine and sun, but the sides and liner still look great. I've had to replace my pump & filter once (sold separately). I purchased a DTE filter and I'm amazed at how much better it cleans than the old sand filter. I also have a pressure side pool cleaner and a automatic chlorinator that really makes the pool nearly maintenance free. See my review of the cleaner here: http://www.epinions.com/content_152544906884 I had some friends over recently and they later told me they thought the pool was new!
2007 update: the pool still looks great and yet again no one believes it is 8 years old. Looking back the extra cost of this pool was worth every penny. PS. don't forget to check out my secrets of pool success in the comments section.
2009 update: the pool looks great still. The only problem I've had is again with fading of plastic railing but the pool is 10 years old now. I also have a couple of railing "caps" that have a broken tab on the bottom so they are a bit loose. It's my fault though, if I didn't take them off every year to fit the lines for the cover "bubble" I probably wouldn't have broken them. Still highly recommended.