You can't go wrong with a Subaru. I drive a '96 Legacy with 208,000 km that's seen 11 harsh Canadian winters. It has put newer cars of people I know to shame in terms of reliability, and I'm anxious to see just how long it lasts.
--What I like
I've found the Subaru to be pleasant to drive, with a controlled ride, nimble handling and good steering--and I would think newer models would be very similar. Winter performance, with four winter tires, is incredible--you can charge a winterized Subaru through snow up to its axles with little trouble. I find the sound of the boxer engine pleasing--it's deeper and more guttural than an inline-four. Subaru's interior controls tend to be very logical and the interior is roomy and practical. The frameless windows give the best visibility of any car I've driven--particularly with the narrow A-pillars.
--What I like less
If you're looking at owning one until it's over 8 years old and you're in a harsh climate, watch for rust. The paint is very chip-resistant, but in my experience small rust spots expanded in only a few years once started. The gas mileage is decent, but is likely about 10% worse than a comparable FWD car. I've averaged 9.4 L/100 km, or 25 miles per US gallon, over the last 7 months, but newer Legacys are heavier and more powerful and will likely get about 2 mpg less. The interior of some models (mine in any case) is fairly quiet but not overly so--I'm planning on adding some sound-deadening material.
Between the Legacy or the Outback Sport, I would recommend the Legacy, since it has a better ride and more interior room.