I searched for the most fuel economic (freeway), AWD (for frequent dirt-roading/all weather) on the market with good interior loading capacity. This car blew the SX4 Crossover AWD (which I test drove) out of the water, especially in loading capacity, and was ~$10k cheaper than the Ford Escape Hybrid (which was great to drive but had about the same fuel economy as the Impreza 180hp). I've already driven through fields with my Outback Sport in wet weather and it plowed through it like a champion - I can't wait for snow to come this season! This car has already been superior on road trips. I've noticed the gear ratio used makes for a slight lack of power switching from 4th to 5th. @ ~50-55 mph
25/29 cty/hwy fuel economy, AWD excellence, awesome safety features including surrounding airbag protection, 6' length capacity in the back with seats down (they lay flat! :)), e.g. you likely wont need to use the roof rack, and can remove it for better MPG. Aux plug for MP3!
The mentioned slight lack of power when switching from 4th to 5th gear at ~50-55mph (the manual suggested switch speed for 5th gear). 4th gear obtains excellent torque in which waiting till ~55+mph to switch to 5th fixes this problem. (Also, problem disappears with 226hp models or automatic).
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