The 2.5 has much better low end response than other n/a four cylinders and is naturally smooth, without any balance shafts. The engine sounds great at low rpms. At high rpms, it gets a bit annoying, but isn't much worse than a honda or toyota. The newer models handle slightly better. The awd causes the Legacy to turn when you turn the wheel as opposed to front wheel drive understeer. Yeah it doesn't handle as well as rear wheel drive, but has it's trade offs too.
Subaru's aren't quite as refined in some ways, but mechanically are far more substantial than Nissans, Hondas and Toyotas. I've said this before, but there are only so many pennies in a dollar and putting in a center diff/transfer case, drive shaft, rear diff and axles isn't free. You can buy a lot of quickly outdated electronics and fancy space aged plastics in exchange for the cost of the awd system in a subaru.