I've owned the 2.5 XT Limited 5 speed manual for 8 yrs ( bought it new ), currently has just under 120k miles.
During that time I've driven it HARD, towed 1 ton of hay behind it for about 10 miles ( no kidding I really have towed a trailer with about 1 ton of hay on board. Yes, it was overloading the car a bit, but it handled it fine, keeping the speed down of course ).
I take it on gravel roads on camping trips regularly. It's very solid on wet roads in driving rain in the Pacific Northwest. It's solid in snow too, although I had not the best snow tires on it ( Hankook snow tires from Les Schwab, they were not great, don't recommend them, still needed chains to get up hill to my house )
Had one problem a few years ago where car would not start if the engine was hot : you run into the store for an errand and come out after 10/15 mins and car won't start. Wait another 20 / 25 mins and it starts fine. Happened intermittently. Took dealership a long time to track it down. Finally we replaced some sensor on the engine, I forget which one, and the problem has never re-occured.
My wife doesn't like driving the car as she finds the position of the pedals very cramped and it forces her foot to an awkward angle for the gas pedal.
Also, the back seats are pretty cramped. It's not really an ideal car for young kids in car seats as we found out.
Agree with another reviewer that the roof rails are not the easiest to adjust. Was just barely able to make it work with a 16 cubic feet Thule cargo box.
The gearbox is certainly not "smooth" but you get used to it and it does the job. Was told by the dealership when we bought it that it has a tougher gearbox and clutch to support the bigger engine on this turbo model so maybe that's why it's not so smooth.
But overall if you like to "drive", it's a fun car to drive. You can throw it around twisty country roads and it'll totally hold the road and go where you want it to go with no hesitation.
Had a few minor repairs, mostly things like rubber boots on CV joints, mostly items I considered wear and tear from the way I drive it.
Fuel efficiency is about what could be expected from a 2007 vintage AWD. Easily get 28mpg on a long highway trip and average 23mpg in mixed driving.
I have been diligent in doing all factory recommended servicing right on schedule, not sure if that contributes to my good results, but it can't hurt anyway !
I heard from so many people that I should buy a subaru because it's great in the snow. They were right about the car on the snow, but I have had nothing but problems with my subaru. If you can think of a million problems that could go wrong with this car, it's happened! I bought my car from a one owner driver at 60K miles and my problems began 4 months after I bought. It hasn't stopped, so it's time to trade it in! I think I've put 3000 dollars in the car and have owned it for less than 2 years.
I wanted something that was fun to drive, tow my boat and get decent mileage. This was the perfect vehicle. I can get high twenties on the highway, tows my boat, offers the choice of a 5 speed manual (autos are for wimps), has a tremendous list of safety and comfort features, all wheel drive, and tremendous amounts of power for a family wagon. If you want to combine driving fun with economy, utility and safety, nothing in the price range comes close. In city traffic, the turbo is a blast. I have a sports car I put in storage when MN winter weather hits; this car will allow me to not miss it so much during the cold months. It's a blast.
SUV utility with turbo manual fun. Gas mileage. Long list of standard features and quality of interior.
Firmer rear sway bar. Tone down the seatbelt chime, when I unbuckle to get through my work parking gates, it's annoying. More 5 speeds! Dealers tell you they don't get many, and when they do, they are gone. But every year there are plenty of left over autos.
We went to the dealer expecting to buy the 2007 LL Bean. I was disappointed with the automatic tranny. Test drove the XT turbo w/ manual shifter and fell in love with it, as did my wife. As ski instructors in Western Colorado with a 50 mile round trip commute, we need a car that works in snow. With VDC, traction control, and snow tires this car will be unstoppable. BTW, Edmund's does not show that this car comes standard with traction control, but it does. With the SI selected to Sport#, this car runs neck and neck with our '02 WRX. Corners like it too. Heated power leather seats, dual zone auto climate control, and quiet ride give this car a lot of upscale standard features.
VDC, traction control, and good ground clearance. Airbags everywhere. Gobs of power with decent fuel economy if you watch your right foot. Big knobs and easy to read radio and climate control system. Taupe leather adds classy touch. Much quieter than our WRX. Surprisingly good looking design.
Lack of memory for driver's seat and mirrors is the only thing keeping this vehicle from going head to head and beating the best wagons from Volvo, Audi, and BMW, for a lot less money. Passenger seat needs power height adjustment. Optional XM radio tuning very much NOT intuitive.