After thinking about it for a long time, I narrowed down my choice of cars to the XC70, Honda Element and Outback. Drove all 3 back to back. Bought the 2007 XC70 with 30k miles for a great price, especially with a trade-in of my 16 year old Toyota 4-runner! I thought there was not comparison between the Volvo and the Outback....I know the Outback has a good reputation, but the XC70 has blown me away (imagine moving from a 1993 4-runner to a 2007 XC70). It is such a joy to drive, and although I can't compare it to other cars in its class, I think it handles and rides incredibly. It is so solid and quiet and the interior is like sitting in your favorite leather chair.
Ride, AWD, Interior, sound system is amazing. MPG better than I expected (esp. compared to an SUV) . I have been getting 20-21 mpg commuting to work- 7 miles of interstate and 3 miles of city driving. My avg while on the interstate is mid 26+, even better when I keep it a little under 70:)
Cross bars on the roof rack would be nice. Brake dust on front wheels is annoying.