I bought my wrx in July of 2004 while I was attending community college in Pennsylvania. I chose the wrx because of the power and the awd. I chose the wagon because it cut my insurance in half (I was a 19 year old male buying a turbo charged car). I have driven the car as a daily driver ever since. I later attended Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana which lead to some 500 mile trips back and forth to Pennsylvaina. I now have close to 140,000 miles on the car. Aside from tires and brakes, I have replaced the clutch at 900$ including labor and almost all of the ac components at 1400$ including labor. 7 years and 140,000 miles with ony 2300$ in repairs is pretty good in my book.
I love the turbo, wish it was an STI though. I bought the wagon for insurance purposes, however after going away to college, growing up and buying a house I am so grateful for the practicality of the wagon. I have a 100+ pound rottweiler who absouletly loves riding in the hatch area, keeping my back seat free of hair and tears. The amount of cargo space given in the wagon is astounding for a small car. I also love the awd system. My fiance has an IS250 awd which doesn't have a rear LSD and its center diff doesn't put power to both axles as well either. Her car is good in the snow, but the wrx is amazing. The difference in awd systems from car to car is much greater than I thought.
The best improvement that came for the standard wrx was in 2006 when they switched to the 2.5 liter engine. The 2.0 is a little underpowered if you don't keep the revs up. I have driven my friends 2006 and there is a very noticible difference in power at low rpms. That being said, if you are on the gas and keeping the revs up, the difference is pretty minimal and the extra cash that one would spend on a newer wrx may not be worth it.