The Inside

Even on my long road trip, I found the driver's seat very comfortable. Being a Limited, the car had leather upholstery, and both front seats had power adjustments and seat heaters. The heaters have thumbwheel controls for multiple heat levels Ч always better than a low/high or on/off button. The faux metallic finish on the center console and door panels is neither the best nor the worst I've seen. Most of the materials are low-gloss and high quality. My car had an ill-fitting glove compartment cover, but overall the interior quality is sound.

Speaking of sound, noise was a problem Ч particularly wind noise, which encircles the cabin, especially along the sides. Several times I found myself flicking the window switches, thinking I'd hit the wrong one at a tollbooth or hadn't closed mine all the way. Never a good sign.

Sound problem No. 2: It's nice that the Harman Kardon premium stereo is standard and that it has an analog MP3 input and all, but I wasn't in the car five minutes when I noticed the front doors singing along to the music. I wasn't playing anything particularly bass-heavy or loud, but the doors were resonating with each pluck of the bass guitar. You don't have to be a stickler to find this unacceptable. Primed for about 10 hours of driving, I had to do something. I got it under control by wedging some laundry in the door pockets. If you make the move on one of these cars, decline the rustproofing. Get the laundry.

On the upside, Subaru finally solved the lighting problem last year. The enormous moonroof, always one of the car's best features, relocated the dome light way behind the front seats, resulting in a dark, shadowy front seat and dashboard. The two reading lights between the sun visors are finally tied into the door switches. Problem solved.

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