Base model hatchback hauls a lot more than I expected. Where I work it's all large SUVs and full-size 4WD trucks but I have had no problems with clearance through mud and snow and I stick to the road a lot better (and faster) than they do with way better mileage. Base model has enough power for real world and car is pretty rock solid. Did have a rock take out my air conditioning (dealer then put a screen under the grill) and windshields don't take rocks too well, seem to crack easier than they should. All in all, way more fun than a truck or SUV with much lower operating costs. When the 2008s arrive I intend to buy one.
Fun to drive on bad roads and bad weather.
Put a key hole in the rear hatch. Improve mileage not power.
I bought this car after researching it against its competitors and hearing that they were great cars. I owned the car from 6/05-8/06 and put 33k on it. The dealership got to know me on a first name basis over this time. Problem areas that I encountered: keyless entry+chirp replaced, got a nail in one of the tires and had to replace all 4= $700, overheated 2x on a short 500 mi trip - left stranded, exhaust manifold began to rattle - had to be re-welded on, leather wrapped steering wheel came undone after a month, rattling speaker on left side had to be replaced 3 times, inconsistent cruise control+/-15mph but dealership couldn't fix, and trunk release amongst a handful of other problems.
Well, after all is said and done the car did have a good resale value, otherwise if you do buy one of these hope that there is a dealership nearby.
I bought this car brand new and meticulously cared for it from day 1. Besides improving upon everything above, consider; completely synchronized gear box, better overall quality - especially in the durability and dent resistence of metal used, more storage, fold down rear seat, and reliability!
I'm writing this review because I just finished my 45-mile commute in the snow and it was actually a pleasant ride. The car is stable and comfortable in any situation: high speed, low speed, rain, snow, dirt or mud, etc. It's not perfect: I am seriously upgrading to a Legacy GT Wagon or an A4 Avant, but for $21k, it's the most practical, fun, and reliable car out there. Just don't expect luxury. 40,000 miles in 1.5 years and no problems except for a few rattles, which is something you'll hear a lot with Subarus. I drive 80mph to work in dry weather (all highway), and I get only 21 mpg, so lack of a 6th speed is disappointing.
AWD, AWD, and AWD. I love the manual transmission and have had no problems with it. Nice turbocharged engine with good growl. Interior is surprisingly nice with good-looking and supportive cloth seats. Lots of airbags, brakes are great -- even in snow. Cargo space with seats folded. Perfect suspension.
2005 not available with leather or sunroof (both are available now). Subarus are known for being reliable (engine, transmission, etc.), but also with slightly lower build quality than Toyota or Honda, and my car is no exception due to several small rattles. Turbo lag < 2600 rpm. No 6 speed manual.
I've had my car for almost 3 years now and have done a few modifications. It has a rear sway bar (Subaru), short shifter (Subaru), K&N filter, front strut tower, and Whiteline anti-lift kit. My goal was to keep it in warranty but have fun in the corners. I've gotten rid of the excess body roll but need a little more power (like 15 hp). In the snow and rain it performs like a dream. I would recommend all of my upgrades to anybody that wanted a more sporty feel in handling.
AWD, interior/exterior styling, price, and head room.
Cabin noise after 1-2 years is horrible; they are just little rattles and squeaks but they drive me nuts! Make the rear seats fold down type (this is a Subaru after all and people do buy them for snow sports!).