Thanks for that update!
I will tell you that for some (including myself) the Crosstrek does not have enough of the expected "get up and go". However, with the Crosstrek and Impreza, they're really meant to be driven a bit aggressively and with awareness. Revving them high will yield the BEST results. Expecting any oomph from down-low will result in disappointment. Utility-wise, they're on point. I think spacing is EXCELLENT, too.
If I were into the outdoors more and had a family and if I weren't considering the Outback I would definitely consider the new Forester. It has tons of utility. Gas mileage should be exceptional. Power delivery should be balanced. It's coming with a 6-speed manual. Foresters generally have an early release date, so I'd expect them to show up no later than 2nd Quarter 2013.
The Yen conversion of the the new Forester XT with CVT was just announced to be about $33k. We assume it'll be much less for the actual USDM model. If I were in your situation, I'd go for the 2014 Forester XT for all-out utility while still keeping the feel sporty. The Outback is nice, but it definitely doesn't feel sporty. The Impreza does most definitely feel sporty, but the Crosstrek and Forester are much better suited for Alaska. All you need is one experience with a crappy parking lot or driveway and you'll be glad you got some more lift out of your vehicle. If you camp then then Crosstrek would be nice since it can actually tow and get hit underneath.
If you're venturing outside of the city often, I wouldn't go for the Impreza.
The Forester moonroof is simply to die for!
The Mazda and Honda vehicles are actually quite nice, but now that Subaru's gas mileage is becoming much more competitive, I'd go for full-time AWD any day over part-time, lop-sided 4WD.