We were looking at small SUVs (CRV, Santa Fe, RAV4) and decided to check out the Outback as well. What a difference! The ride is so much better. Subaru is a much safer and more reliable car than the others we looked at. The exterior is much improved and the interior is very simple. This is our "baby car", so we are happy the car seat is easy to install and the cargo space is awesome. The 170 hp engine isn't great, but is still muc better than the models I listed above. I tested all the models on a nasty hill near our house and the Outback actually performed the best.
SportShift, interior controls, gas mileage, cargo space. Safety, safety, safety.
Possibly a slightly more powerful engine, but we did only get the 4 cyl 2.5i.