I don't live in LA and I don't enjoy driving automatic for a number of reasons. I'm pretty easy to please, andso far like the car very much. For us, this represented an expensive purchase, replacing a Nissan Versa hatch we enjoyed but which had an air bag failure. We live on Vancouver Island and often endure poor weather and ski regularly. I have never needed 4wd in the past; proper snow tires do the job. In poor conditions the best strategy is to simply slow down. I take exception to Subaru and others excessive safey claims for 4wd which seems to promote oveconfidence in drivers. 9 of 10 vehicles I see in theditch are 4wd out here.That being said, it will probably be good for getting out of snow drifts the odd time, and I expect to have some safety improvement with slush and deep water on our highways which are prone to hydroplaning in our torrential rains. This has never been a problem in the past though as I simply slow down. Astonished with miliage; if I drive carefully I get better than the Versa;over 40mpg (Canadian measure) on hwy. Car feels safe and solid, but manueverable. The manual gearbox is a pleasure to shift. Lovely suspension. I am not accustomed to such luxury. It is not peppy andis noisy and this is noticable going up the very steep ski hills, but I'm not in a hurry, and I don't mind hearing the revs for shiftingand being aware my car has a motor. There are a lot of Subarus here in this mountainous and fairly rugged area. People seem to love them. I'm always suspicious of people loving brands though, as human suggestibility knows no bounds! I will be suspicious of my new Subaru...I have concerns about oil consumption and engine reliability in long term, but talking to people and reading on line suggested any issues are diminished. I broke it in carefully. I met just one local person who had a motor replaced for oil consumption at 60000km. We bought this car and the 4wd along with it because there is a dearth of well rated manual trans. compact wagon/hatchbacks and this was fairly competitively priced. Also hasa very good IIHS overall crash rating including partial front offset. So much texting while driving out there now and on the ski hill very easy for speeding drivers to slide across centre line...Honda Civic is bringing in a hatch soon, and would have considered it as Fitfelt too small. But we needed a new car with a passenger air bag pronto! So far so good; yes, for sure, I would buy it again. There's my laymans 2 cents.