Test drove and researched lots of SUVs: Pilot, Santa Fe, Sonata, Rav4, Highlander, Xterra, and Equinox. Came back to the Outback because it had the whole package, reliability, AWD, fuel economy, ground clearance, quiet and smooth ride. I've had it a week now (300 miles) and have driven it up rough mountain roads, on the interstate and in town - I'm very pleased with my Outback. My main concern before buying it was the 4 cylinder engine, but I've got plenty of power AND I'm getting 28 mpg. Got the limited package with sunroof option (no nav) - love the auto air, XM radio, Bluetooth and the overall layout and look of the dashboard (esp. at night). Looks great with the black leather interior.
Gas mileage, ride quality, upscale look of interior. I'm very impressed with how the Outback absorbs bumps - a very smooth ride. The overall build quality is impressive - it's got a very solid feel to it.
Front seat needs a bit more thigh support; more storage bins (the one thing I liked about my old CR-V was that it had lots of little storage compartments); rear A/C vents, engine temp gauge (instead of just warning light); longer warranty.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.