The Subaru Forester drives very quietly and smoothly The 4 cylinder engine has just a touch less power than our old 6 cylinder Nissan Pathfinder, although they both have about the same HP. Honestly though, the only place we noticed a difference, albeit slight, was the rate of acceleration on a fairly steep incline. I'd say in 95% of situations, the Forester is at least equal to the Pathfinder in terms of power. We have the 2.5 liter engine which has a bit better gas mileage than the 2.0 liter engine. The 2.0 liter engine does feature more HP.
The wifes company (well, the government) has a Subaru Crosstrek. It's the Subaru Foresters l'il bro. Apparently, it's a bit gutless so we decided to stay away from buying one, even though it was cheaper and had slightly better gas mileage. I also found the Chevrolet Equinox to be a tad gutless on steep inclines which was one of the deciding factors on going with the Subaru, instead. I think the Crosstrek might be fine for city driving, but I live in some hilly country. Also, "gutless" is probably a tad harsh, but the Equinox definitely started to sputter a bit on steeper inclines. The Equinox drove fine on flatter surfaces, to be fair, and was next choice if we couldn't swing a deal for the Forester.
I don't know much about the Subaru Impreza, other than talking to a guy at work who owns one. He says it's a great vehicle and all, but it rides a little lower than the Forester and isn't as good in the snow. He says he now wishes he got the Forester for that reason.
One thing that really impressed me about the Forester is the general quality of the build. I'm not a big car guy but right off the bat, I noticed how solid the doors felt compared to newer models of cars where doors feel flimsy, giving the general impression that the entire vehicle is flimsy. In fact, every thing of the Forester has an old school solid feel about it. The crash test rating of the Subaru is among the best so that tells you that they're not being built with el cheapo materials. The frames on the Forester are tank like strong.
A friend of mine had a Subaru Outback for about 20 years and that thing never gave him any problems, other than normal wear and tear. Consumer Reports has the Forester as one of the top rated cars consistently so we felt quite confident buying one.
I'm not a Subaru fanboy, but we did a shit ton of research before buying and Subaru always came up at the top of the list in buying a well built car that will last years with a minimal expectation of problems. The stock stereo system in it is meh at best, though.
I haven't done any winter driving yet so maybe my opinion will change, but my buddies ol' Outback was a fantastic ride for going up mountains in the snow.