Before I read the list of cars you were considering I thought the Outback was probably the car you should be looking at. The Forester also deserves a look. The Mazda is also a good pick. I like the Escape but the only thing that would stop me from recommending it is that all four of my brothers owned first and second series Escapes and two of them had major transmission problems. I don't know if this was fixed with the current model but it is a very attractive car. Hyundai has really stepped up their game in terms of quality and reliability and the Santa Fe or Tucson may be worth your attention as well. Avoid the Volkswagen Tiguan and the BMW X3/X5.