I REMEMBER doing a cross country trip in sleet and snow driving a Subaru Outback a few years ago and it was absolutely fantastic.
It kept me going up hill and down dale through the Peak District when others were sliding, spinning and floundering, and it did so easily and safely.
It's also one of the most reliable cars on the market, so one well worth buying secondhand, and it comes with a five year warranty, some of which could still be included in any car you go for.
The Outback was originally based on the large Legacy Tourer estate, which could also be bought new until 2013.
The latest model, introduced in 2015, is practical spacious and comfortable over all surfaces while also being very relaxed to drive.
But the handling and road-holding are still superb, helped by Subaru's permanent four wheel drive system (4WD).
Even with that 4WD they can still be cheaper than rivals' two-wheel-drive (2WD) models, despite holding their value well.
The single petrol engine is a 175bhp 2.5-litre ‘boxer' flat four, driving through a stepped CVT automatic gearbox.
It's capable of 33 miles per gallon and covers the 0 to 60 miles an hour sprint in a decent 9.6 seconds.
It picks up quickly and makes very good use of the automatic's characteristics, so that you're always sure of enough pulling power.
However, 60 per cent of the cars sold in this country have been 2.0-litre, flat four diesels - either with a six-speed manual gearbox or the same CVT automatic.
The diesel is probably the pick of the range for most people, with 150bhp on tap and economy up to about over 40mpg in real driving.
Performance is slightly better than the petrol, thanks to loads of low and mid-range pulling power, with the 60mph sprint taking 9.4 seconds.
Some might call it a ‘lifestyle' estate, but I remember getting three children and all the gubbins for a week's holiday into one without too much of a problem - although the rearward view was somewhat limited.
The manual gearbox is slick and easy, the automatic is one of the best of its kind on the market and the brakes are well up to holding everything in check.
Refinement is excellent, apart from a little more noise than expected from the diesel engine. There's little wind or road noise - except on tar and chipping surfaces of course - like every other car.
There is room for five in comfort, the boot is big and standard equipment is very generous.
There are just two trim levels to choose from and even the lower SE comes very well equipped straight out of the box.
It has audio remote control, alloys, traction control, sat nav, heated mirrors and heated seats with lumbar support plus electric adjustment for the driver.
It also has parking sensors, loads of airbags, an alarm and excellent seat and steering column adjustment. SE Premium adds leather and an electric sunroof.
The Subaru Outback is a slightly raised estate with most of the attributes of a heavyweight SUV but none of the drawbacks. It's tough, reliable, capable, spacious and practical.
Pay about Â£11,400 for a '15 15-reg 2.0D SE, or Â£18,900 for an '18 18-reg 2.0D SE-Premium automatic.