Owned a 2003 Forester until it was totaled in an accident. The safety design of the car was a selling point and paid off. I never had any problems with the car and don't expect any from my new Outback. The Basic comes loaded, so a higher version just buys luxury items. I think Subaru is trying to compete with the Audi and Volvo AWD sports sedans/wagons. I did not drive them, but the Outback Basic in comparison is a good value. Edmunds true cost to own statistics is a good tool. Even though it doesn't have the lowest total cost, a low purchase price and using Subaru rewards brings the cost down. Two months driving and no problems except the lift gate rattled over bumps. Dealer fixed it.
AWD, quality materials, very quiet, good radio system, ride quality, standard safety features. The heavy duty suspension and ride height in a wagon give it a SUV quality without SUV gas mileage.
A 5 speed auto might help with gas mileage, cruise speed noise, and better acceleration. Standard stability control.