Doing some shopping myself and looking at the Forester, CRV and RAV4.  A few things I've found. 
The new RAV4 (2006 and later) is built on a truck (Tacoma) chassis, whereas the older ones are on a car (Camry?) chassis.  I greatly prefer the way the older ones handle (e.g., more feedback from the steering column).  The CRV and Forester both met with my approval in this regard. 
The CRV and RAV4 are on-demand AWD, engaging when the computer tells them it's needed.  The RAV4 (perhaps the CRV too) also has a lockout switch.  I don't know enough about the technologies to state whether this is an advantage for the sube in mixed driving conditions, but I do know it means the RAV4 and CRV get better gas mileage.
You sit much higher off the ground in the RAV4 and CRV than the Forester, despite having lower ground clearance.  This translates to a larger cabin with more storage space and more room for whomever sits in the back seat (i.e., their legs can hang down instead of being thrust forward toward the back of the front seats). 
I'm a big fan of Subarus, but I definitely like the CRV and would choose it over an Outback, if not a Forester (based largely on price).  My guess is we'll get a Forester, however, since my wife likes it, if for no other reason than sharing the same chassis as her current Imprezza and therfore handling more or less identically. 
In terms of reliability, Subaru had some big engine problems in the 2002 and slightly earlier editions of the 2.5L engine.  Don't get anything older than a 2003, and I'm leaning towards the still more reliable 2004/2005s myself.  The CRV follows a similar reliability pattern (although the magnitude of the probelms aren't as great here).  The RAV4 looks pretty bomber back at least through 2003 and perhaps further. 
- Patrick

From: Vermont Skiing Discussion and Snow Reports [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Evan Osler
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 10:25 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SKIVT-L] New Vehicle?

On 7/3/07, Matthew Kulas <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I hear you, Mark.  Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Saab, VW, Ford--I've owned
them all (or my parents owned them and I drove them).  I've seen Jerm
beat the tihs out of his Ford Ranger.  I know inexpensive; 6 cars,
total cost: $1,474 plus a six-pack of refeahcS and a six-pack of

Not the entire story. Matt was gifted his most recent car by Mom and Dad. Mark, will your parents give you a Subaru Outback this year?

1) Toyota Prius.  It's expensive, up front, but you'll save a lot of
money on gas.  Invest in good snows.  You'll be fine.

I'm a big proponent of hybrids, but not because they'll save you money. The gas savings on a Prius will not pay for the premium of the hybrid system over the life of the vehicle. The best bang for your buck with a fuel efficient front wheel drive car is NOT a hybrid. Of course if gas finally jumps to $5/gallon like it ought to...

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