This vehicle drives surprisingly well and can climb very well too! The gas mileage is very good because of the 4 cylinder engine. It is peppy but slows down with cargo as expected. The roof racks are standard and accept most carriers.
How it grabs the road in snow and rain.
For improvements, spend more for the XS with leather, moonroof, and aluminum rims. Turbo is available on newer models. The backseats are uncomfortable.
Engine break in could be over 10k, since I continue to get higher city mpg. AWD does some bucking on turns, probably speed sensors in auto transmission. Acceleration is adequate for passing, esp. when pushing throttle, but have been experiencing some hesitation that can be handled by letting up on the throttle and re-applying speed. Tend to think it is Evaporative Emission system/valve near fuel tank because is usually only present in hot weather after car has been sitting with engine off. Fit and finish excellent in vehicle, very quiet on bumpy gravel roads with hardly a rattle. Good in snow, but winter tire pattern a must since vehicle tends to understeer. OEM tires no good in snow. Would buy again.
AWD of course is the primary reason for buying this vehicle. Cargo capacity is moderate with rear seat folded down, but one doesn't buy a mini-SUV for hauling trees. Sound system with underseat woofer is first class. Rear wiper very handy with flat rear glass. Very comfortable front seating, posture.
Auto transmission dipstick needs to be longer to avoid heater hose on checks. Spark plug boot puller a plus. Barometer plus exterior thermometer. Separate maintenance schedule or CD. Better OEM tires. Backup warning system. ECU printout module, possibly flash memory. Redesigned undercarriage plastic shield/screws.
This is the first year of the redesign, and Subaru did a good job making the car feel more "quality." The fit/finish is higher than the previous generation, yet they still managed to pack in a lot of bang-for-the-buck features. This car is great for winter/cold-weather climates due to AWD, heated seats, etc.
The very respectable safety ratings (highest for a compact SUV).
The automatic climate control is finicky. You either freeze or fry. The LED lights that indicated climate settings are hard to read in daylight.
I originally bought this car for my wife. She grew to hate it so much that she asked me to swap her for our old Jeep Cherokee. After swapping, I soon learned why she hated the car so much. Lackluster acceleration, strange coughs, jerks, and a transmission that shifts when it shouldn't and doesn't shift when it should. One tank of fuel will get 25 MPG and the next only gets 17 MPG in the same area. I had it back to three different Subaru dealers multiple times and can't get any satisfaction. I have made at least 6 different requests to speak to a Subaru factory rep and I am always told to leave my number and the factory rep will call me. I'm still waiting for a call. Buyer Beware!
Windshield washer tank holds a full gallon. Outside temperature indicator very useful to warn of freezing roadways. Dual tripometers.
Completely re-engineer engine controls. Either abandon electronic shift transmission or find some competent engineers to design a new control system. Include more than one key operated door lock. Use better quality materials for interior components (carpeting, upholstery, & cheap plastic dash).