Apexboy, we think alike. Before buying my wife's GT, we test-drove the A4 1.8t and 2.8 and the BMW 328. Also looked briefly at the Pontiac Grand Prix (too big).
When I was buying my Outback, I checked out the Accord, Camry, and Taurus wagons (back when they still made them), at least one SUV (forget which; they're all the same), the Impreza wagon (way underpowered in 96), and a Volvo 850 sedan. The only vehicle that I considered seriously other than the OB was the Camry - and they wanted over $27k, without AWD but with the V6.