I am overall very pleased with this car. The build quality seems excellent for this class. The doors give a quality thunk when you close them and all switches/levers feel durable. The performance of the 2.5 is adequate and when combined with the 5spd the result is a zippy little car. The suspension soaks up the bumps very nicely (better than my 04 Impala I traded for it) and I live near some very rough roads so that is appreciated. I am a large person (275 lbs) and I find the interior comfortable and roomy enough. Even though it is summer, I have already used the AWD to climb up a rain soaked muddy drive and it performed flawlessly. I'm almost looking forward to the ND winter.
The AWD as I live in a harsh climate (ND). The build quality and feel of the levers and switches. The suspension that soaks up the bumps on the rough roads. Decently roomy interior with good sized load space with the seat folded down. The manual transmission for driving fun.
The 5 disc CD stereo is lack-luster and falls short of the 04 Impala I traded for it. The 5spd manual could be a little smoother with a little less clutch travel. I would prefer a manual lever as opposed to an electronic push button to open the rear gate for reliability purposes.
I wrote the above review and thought I would post an update since I have had the car for almost 4 years now. The car currently has 20K on it and I have owned it long enough for some of the quirks to surface. The car has low mileage as I primarily ride my motorcycle in the warm months. Overall, I still like the car and would still recommend it but these are some of the things worth mentioning. The manual transmission really loosened up around 8-10K. This made shifting a lot smoother however the car does tend to grind when shifting from 2nd to 3rd if you don't hold the clutch completely in and exaggerate the shift. The dealer says they will monitor this for possible gearbox replacement towards the end of my extended warrantee (6 years). The power steering pump makes a screaming noise until warmed up when you start it in temps below -10F. The dealership said this is normal for Subaru. Also, the engine has a large amount of what the dealership described as piston slap until warmed up in the same temps. My engine does not burn a drop of oil as other reviewers have mentioned. I change the oil at 3750 miles as indicated in the manual and use regular dealership oil which I believe is Mobile1. The paint does seem to scratch easily as other reviewers have commented, especially around the door handles. Also, one of the Subaru splash guards broke due to snow/ice buildup in the wheel well. They don't really leave enough space for snow/ice buildup in the winter and it is always scraping/grinding. Other than that, I love the car. I installed an aftermarket stereo and speakers, put on a set of Blizack tires for the winter, and attached a small tow bar so I can tow my motorcycle and snowmobile on my single place aluminum trailer. I expect to keep this vehicle for several years yet. One other things worth mentioning is this has to be about the cheapest vehicle I have ever owned in cost of ownership terms. There is very little maintenance or depreciation cost.
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