Like you, I would also be apprehensive about buying another Subaru. They have claimed that the issue was fixed and that certain year models weren't affected?until those years started consuming oil! So I'm not confident that the problem is completely fixed. I also don't like CVT transmissions, which the Subaru uses (along with Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, among others).
If I was in your position, the Mazda CX-5 would be an easy decision for me. But I also must admit that I currently own two Mazdas- a 2006 Mazda3 and 2012 CX-9. I like their cars and I've had good experiences with them. The CX-5 is newly redesigned for 2017. Dealers still have quite a few of the 2016.5 models remaining, so the opportunity for a good deal exists.
The 2016.5 Touring AWD can be had starting at around $24,500 ($27,415 base sticker). The 2016.5 Grand Touring AWD (leather, 19" wheels, moonroof, Bose audio) should come in just under your $28k budget (MSRP of $30,770).
The new 2017 CX-5 Touring AWD has a sticker price of $28,155. The $780 Preferred Equipment Pkg (Power moonroof, navigation, 10-spkr Bose audio, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, Homelink remote) is the deal of the century and brings the MSRP up to $28,945. Buying one for well under $28k should be no problem.
An alternative that would tempt me, but I tend to like a little luxury and performance, is a 2014-2015 CPO Acura RDX. For $28k, you'd get a nice luxury compact SUV with a 7yr/100k mile powertrain warranty and 1yr/12k miles added to the basic 4yr/50k warranty. The vast majority of the ones I found online were 3-year lease returns, so they're in pristine condition and have been very well maintained.
The Toyota RAV4 is a little too 'vanilla' for my taste. The Hybrid version you mention, even in the lowest XLE trim level, starts at $29,990 before any options. Getting one within your $28k budget could be difficult and there are simply better values out there.
I'll toss out one other possibility- the Hyundai Tucson. For starters, you get a 5yr/60k Basic (bumper-to-bumper) warranty and 10yr/100k powertrain coverage. So any problems with the engine, transmission or all-wheel-drive system would be covered for 10yrs/100k miles. The Tucson rates highly in most comparison tests (although the CX-5 tends to win them) when equipped with the 1.6L turbo engine. The 2.0L SE/SE Plus are simply too weak to recommend. They are very nice vehicles and worth an hour or so to take a quick look and a test drive.
To answer your question regarding 'intelligent' AWD systems, they seem to be VERY reliable across the board. I wouldn't be concerned about them failing within the 10yr timeframe you expect to own it. The beauty of most of these systems is that they function as FWD until additional traction is needed. That translates into better fuel economy and less wear on the AWD system components since they're only used a small percentage of the time.