This is my 2nd Forester. Traded in the 2000 because I got tired of the manual. When I got the 2003 XS, I also had a 1999 Audi A8 Quatro (315 HP, all aluminum, etc.) and remarkably, the Subo was more fun to drive -- and light years better mileage. I do wish they had a turbo diesel, and I'll probably keep this car till they do and then trade in.
Visibility, road feel and handling, moon roof (huge), heated seats, controls (once you get used to them), ease of upgrade (you can buy nearly all the Subo options on the open market and everything is pre-wired and usually pre-drilled for mounting (speakers, mud flaps, electro sensor mirror, etc.).
The OEM tires are dangerous; near worthless in rain or snow. I replaced them all after 10K miles -- on this car and our '03 Baja. Insist on a no cost upgrade when you buy this car (don't forget to get an upgraded spare too, they are full size).