For whatever it is worth, I have some friends who have lived in so Cal for 25 yrs, spending every weekend in the mountains at Big Bear - Lots of winter snow, icey mountain roads (chains/local residents only conditions at times). They have owned just about every type of RWD PU, FWD and 4WD wagon and SUV out there, starting with ford and chevy, going through Saab and volvo, then thru toyota landcruiser and finally Subaru forester. Their conclusions were that the Toyota was the best of the lot until they drove the Forester, which they feel has the best combination of power, handling, comfort, economy, and durability (They now own 2!). The Toyota had most of the above, but was apparently a little underpowered in the mountains, and not very economical. They say the Subaru feels more powerful on the hills, is more economical, and surprisingly holds everything they used to carry in the Land Cruiser (2 golden retrievers, earthquake/winter survival kit for 2, several file boxes of book-in-progress materials, briefcases, laptops, etc.). Hope this helps.
87 300E, 65k miles