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.