I've had my Outback Sport for nearly 5 years and was thinking of replacing it (vanity reasons)...but the cost to own this has been so low. I easily get 28mpg highway, brakes and tires are cheap (unlike BMW, audi and VW which are 10K more from the start), and the car is solid (unlike the Toyotas and Mazdas at the time which are comparable price wise). I have seriously abused this car and it runs fantastic.
28mpg highway, good styling, nice roof racks, great hatch opens tight and high (good if you use the tow hitch or are tall)
It's hard to say anything negative about this car given the number of features that came for a pretty low price. It's amazingly reliable and seems to run on rails in the rain. Snow performance isn't bad, either. Wish fuel economy were a bit better, but the AWD takes a (worthwhile) toll. Could be quieter but, again, it's an inexpensive vehicle.
After selling my '02 Outback Sport a year and a half ago, I finally made it back into the Subaru fold with the purchase of the '04 model. Both times I have been satisfied with my purchase. I miss the "bug-eyed" headlights and foglights from the '02, but everything else is pretty much aesthetically the same. I love the confidence I feel. I remember on a snowboarding trip in '03 being waved on by the Rangers at Big Bear Mtn. while everyone else was forced over to apply snow chains. HA! Subaru? No chains needed. Just drive. Whenever. Wherever.
The styling. The handling. The sure-footed AWD. The rubber trunk mat. The carte blanche travel ability. How cool the door looks opening when the windows are down (no window frame).
Bring back the bug-eyes and big fog lights! Oooh, and how 'bout in-dash espresso machine! Thanks.
I am the previous owner of a '77 awd wagon that I logged 300k on and a Legacy GT '02 and an Outback Legacy. I like this Sub the best except one thing. There is a small rattle coming from the rear hatch area that the dealer cannot fix after multiple visits. Just going to live with it. Car handles great and yes, it's worth more now than what I owe and I put nothing down! Really holds its value well. Fast enough for me with 168hp 4 cylinder and cruises easily with the automatic transmission. For those getting sub-par gas mileage ... change the air-filter+ oil frequently and use Chevron gas additive Techroline Plus. It makes a BIG difference. Was 20-22 now 25- 26mpg. I know this car will hold up for 300k.
Well balanced power/weight ratio, inexpensive for what you get, awd and great suspension. Reliable, Reliable, Reliable. Low maintenance, low insurance. Still have not seen a car '05 or '06 that I say -- OH I should have bought that car instead. The practical hatchback awd wagon that parks like a dream.
They made them in '05 -- better stereo, interior. In '05 they announced a premium package that only cost $500 for the stereo upgrade; 330watts/ leather accented s/wheel/shifter/brake, better rims and an upgraded cloth interior.
I bought this car for two reasons: for a 60 mile (round trip) commute to work each day and to get me up the hill to go skiing on the weekends. This car has performed admirably in both respects. I was pleasantly surprised by how well my Subaru handled snowy or icy, steep hills. I didn't find a hill all winter that I couldn't get up and it didn't matter where, or how, I parked, I never got stuck. And this was during a winter that the papers said was the area's most snowy since 1916. In addition, the car is comfortable for my commute. This is saying something considering I am 6'1". Observed mpg: 25-26 with ski racks; 28-30 w/o ski racks. Great vehicle for camping, too.