Having moved up to New England from DC two years ago, I wanted a car that was better suited to getting caught on the Mass. Pike in a snow storm or getting out of the drive way for a snack run without out first snowblowing on a Saturday morning. Safety was also critical. The 2006 bettered the side safety so now it's an IIHS best pick for front and side. Reliability was also key and consumers reports shows a good history. I also wanted fairly good mileage (coming from a Civic Hybrid) and usable backseat room for my gigantic Marathon car seat (this and the reliability concerns left over from our '02 VW Passat ruled out the Audi A4 even with the good lease deal). This car simply had it all.
Interior is fantastic - the limited in Atlantic Blue has a beautiful "Taupe" leather. The exterior color is my all time favorite that I've ever seen on a Subaru. The ride quality is great and very quiet. The dash layout is very well done. My toddler loves the massive moonroof and nice back seat.
These are a non-critical wish list because the car is wonderful: stability control standard on all models, tire pressure monitor standard on all models, and a Nav option on all models (understand that there will soon be a 2.5i SE with the Nav) and great colors like the solid blue on the whole line.