Welcome back to the better coast!
One thing to keep in mind is that 99% of all driving, including driving to hikes, is on nice paved roads. So you have to weigh the "do I want a monster truck that can drive over a 5ft ravine" with the fact that it gets 8mpg, kills polar bears, and won't fit in a parking space, which you will be putting up with for the vast vast majority of your driving vs the few times you'll be glad to be able to go off road.
I'm going to disagree with Chip and say ground clearance is the thing - it's nice to not have to worry about scraping rocks in the road or bottoming out in a pothole. But [edit: as Chip notes] pay attention to the front bumper angle, because some poorly designed crossovers would scrape the nose coming out of a ditch, even if the main part of the car wouldn't bottom out. A slightly higher car is also nice for having a convenient tailgate to sit on to change your shoes.
AWD is nice, but between it and clearance, I would take the latter. AWD reduces gas mileage, and while better than 2WD in snow, it's not better than 2WD with snow tires if the AWD has regular all seasons. Everything is a balance.
I have a Crosstrek and have been happy with it. I haven't managed to bottom it out yet, and if you want to rip down well graded gravel roads, the AWD is good for that. The back is slightly too small to comfortably sleep in, though. The Outback seems like it would have the space, but feels like a boat for regular town driving. Depends on your family size and storage and car bivying needs.
sgyoung wrote: ↑
April 20th, 2021, 3:51 pm
I'd also like to note my disappointment that I wasn't issued a Subaru along with my WA license. I was pretty sure that was how it worked
I think that's an option, but you have to check the box and pay the $20,000 - $35,000 surcharge.