We looked at a number of small SUVs and wagons and went with the Outback for a number of reasons: comfort, MPG, and functionality. The other small SUVs did not ride well and seemed cheaply made (including Toyota and Honda). The ride quality in a wagon is way better and does everything I need it to do. MPG (28 hwy, 22mpg city) has been better than advertised, which is rare. Great resale in Colorado and low operating costs. Only 500 miles on it so far so I can't comment on long term reliability.
MPG, space, all-wheel drive, ipod connector.
Stereo not that great, seats could be a bit more comfortable in back.
I've had my Outback 2.5i 5-speed manual for about 6000 miles, and I'm very happy with it. It gets good gas mileage, is fun to drive, handles well, deals with lousy weather very well, has plenty of room, and looks great. My mileage has averaged 25.4 mpg overall since I bought it, with a low of 22.2 mpg and a high of 30.3 mpg. That's good for an AWD vehicle. With the 5-speed manual it feels lively and energetic, and the manual transmission shifts very easily. It's a great all-around vehicle that can handle pretty much anything thrown at it and do it very well. It's a practical car that's enjoyable to drive.
I like the large cargo area, the handling is great, the fuel economy is good, and the car is put together very well with high-quality materials. With good tires, it is a great foul-weather vehicle. I love having a manual transmission...makes driving it a lot of fun!
The back seat is a little tight on legroom for tall people. The OEM Bridgestone RE92A tires are not good in snow. There's no stability control available unless you step up to the limited or LLBean models with an auto transmission.
The Outback handles great in every day driving around town or on the highway. Steering is light and responsive. The Outback's 3.0R engine delivers plenty of refined power with a hint of growl. The transmission delivers that power unobtrusively. I normally leave SI drive in Intelligent mode but when necessary "sport sharp" mode (S#) provides that extra punch. The Outback's raised ride height means more suspension travel (take that speed bumps!) and it has a smooth ride over rough surfaces. I think the Outback looks the part of a luxury wagon. The interior is upscale and comparable to my 2004 Passat. The materials feel substantial and fit and finish are excellent. Braking is very sure.
Subaru's legendary AWD is clearly my favorite feature even if it seems to get little use in everyday driving. The electroluminescent gauges are another favorite. The full sweep of the gauges on startup always brings a smile to my face. The multifunction display contains copious information.
(1) driver's window controls should include both the auto down AND up functions; (2) doors should have an auto-locking feature; (3) better sound system with comprehensive satellite radio controls; (4) bring back the weatherband radio; (5) deep tinted sunroof glass; and, (6) a full size spare tire.
It was tough to trade in my boy car (WRX) for a wagon, but that's what kids will do to a guy. But with the XT, one does not have to sacrifice some fun! Not quite as much fun as an audi s4 wagon or bmw 335xi wagon, but a good 'total' package.
Safety ratings, AWD, better clearance than most SUVs, decent handling and power. XT has very good interior trim and finish and Subaru reliability is well known.
Cannot stand wing mirror control or location. Dual zone climate control stinks compared to Audi A4 (only other wagon I compared before buying). Subaru still can't get remote key system right, poor ergonomics. Premium stereo is standard quality on most econo vehicles. Cornering performance is slushy.