This is our second Outback, the first was a 2001 but in the basic package. The VDC edition is simply an extremely well designed and built car. Put an aggressive tire on it and you can get any where you need to go in any weather. Handling is surprisingly sport like and has enough power to make driving fun, we trailer an atv with it. Decked out with all the bells and whistles.
After four years with a Saturn LW2/300, I decided to get back to Subaru for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is the reliability of the car. I had a '92 Loyale that I couldn't kill, but traded in for the Saturn. After various "issues" with that car, I decided to come back to Subaru. I bought the standard Outback Wagon with a 5 speed, my first! and just love it. Here in NH you need a good snow car. The Outback continually impresses my wife and I, not only in the foul weather, but on our short and long trips. Very little stops the car or us. It goes through every where we want to go. It loads up and cruises down the highway well. Being 6 foot 1 inch, I find I have just enough room behind the wheel.
All wheel drive, comfort, can pack a ton of stuff and head to ME at 75 mph. Heated seat, mirrors, and wiper rest. The grunt of the engine, especially with a K&N air filter in it. I surprise people when I gain on them on uphills :). Very good gas mileage with a big right foot; 25 - 27 around town and highway.
A little more pep from the engine, though this has been taken care of with the 05's. Even the non-turbo Outback moves with an automatic, but it's more fun to shift for yourself. Poor headlights on the 03; if it wasn't for the foglights, it would be hard to drive in the dark / inclement weather.
Other than the up-coming change in 2 1/2 years for the OnStar system, from analog to digital, the car has been all I have ever expected out of it and more. I have mine serviced every 2,500 miles, and if I find something wrong, I have it repaired while it is still nickel dime, before it reaches quarter half dollar condition.
Very solidly built car, evidence of very good quality control, hardly any blind spots, drives wonderful in ice and snow conditions. Engine temperature always remains stable at one area on indicator. Has never failed to start the first second since I have owned it. Plenty of room to transport anything.
I would like to see the tilt steering have a little more up and down movement as at times I am restricted by the steering wheel due to space getting in and out of the car. I am not overweight but have adapted to the tilt over the past 2 1/2 years.
Wonderful vehicle, great clearance, handling, braking, etc. Sound system with a sub is great, no need to purchase high end replacement speakers. Heats up fast in the cold weather. AWD can't be beat. Gas mileage is more like 20-22 mpg. No way you can get 26 mpg like stated by Subaru. All around a great buy worth every cent. You'd pay 10k more for anything comparable. Love it