I bought this as a "micro SUV" -- the 2006 RAV4 had only an automatic and was $4000 more. Handling is great; the Impreza moves confidently through snow and heavy rains on hilly roads. With a roof rack, transport capacity is terrific. With some planning, and multiple trips, I can move most the loads that a pickup can take. I tow a 1500 pound camper (towing capacity is 2400 lbs -- largest in this group). The one drawback is lower MPG. I am getting mid 20s. My previous car was a 96 Saturn sedan, which was getting in the mid 30s, but did not have the power, or handling in snow.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.