So... the time has come... and I have decided that my next car will be a Subaru. I actually owned a Legacy many years ago, and it was very near and dear to my heart, but when the lease was up I no longer needed a vehicle (had moved back home to NYC) so I gave it up. When it was time to get a set of wheels again, I went with a VW GTI because I wanted a sporty hatchback and the WRX was not available at thet time. Now, it seems like there are too many options in the Subaru world.
I test drove an '04 WRX, an '04 Forester XT, and a Baja today and was happy with each of them (though, obviously, the WRX and Forester are more fun than the Baja). Let me tell you my situation, and then perhaps you can send some advice my way.
Aside from the sporty driving element (which they all have... I would wait for the Baja Turbo if that's what I really wanted), what I need is a backpack on wheels... something that I can take hiking/camping, biking, sailing, rockclimbing, skiing, and all the many other outdoor activities I enjoy. I know that each of these vehicles fit this bill in their own way... just as my Legacy did... but does one outshine another when taking in the big picture. I hear the Forester XT, due to it's 2.5 engine, has better power at high altitudes vs. the WRX. Is this noticibly true? The Forester also has a higher ground clearance... but the Baja Turbo is supposed to have the highest of all three when it comes out. Which of the vehicles, if any, has the more rugged suspension for when I tackle old logging roads and other unpaved/precarious routes? Aside from a sportier look, what does the WRX have over the Forester in the way of advantages? In spite of its marketing, does the Baja really offer enhanced versatility vs. the other two? Or, rather, does it limit what you can take with you because of the narrow hole in the switchback pass-through and the lack of cargo security. Basically, I'm looking for the Subaru for all seasons, for all reasons (at the risk of sounding corny... too late). Which would you choose?
I'm hoping to get advice from people who have lived with their vehicles for a little while and have gotten over the honeymoon... though advice from all is more than welcome.
Also... I prefer the '03 look of the WRX. Are there any major advantages that really mean anything (i.e. brakes, suspension, stabilizer bars, etc.) that the '04 has vs. the '03? I know there was a link somewhere that listed all of the features that were new on the '04... but I couldn't seem to find it with the search function. (yes, apparently I'm that stupid). If someone could direct me to that link, that would be a great help.
I know this is a pretty basic and possibly silly post... but it never hurts to ask... and perhaps someone who has lived with their vehicle can pass on some wisdom that can only be gained over time.
Thank you, in advance, for all of your help and advice. I'll take it upon myself to welcome myself back to the Subaru family... and I happy to be home again.