2013 Outback, 4 cylinder. I drive it every single day. Strapped in the back, the sweetest peanut of a 5 yr old redhead girl, a 2 1/2 yr old redhead boy with an obsession for all things motorized, and a 5 month old redhead girl with a laugh that will have you rolling on the ground. In the passenger seat (usually) is my better and lovelier half who gifted me with my family.

Driving the outback solo is a lonely, unexciting, slow, but surefooted proposition. Driving with the fam transports the Outback into something like the mirthmobile full of the people that make my life a joy.

When I want spirited driving, I can strap the older two into the back of my 2010 wrx (stock) and listen to them scream and giggle when the turbo spins up. Somehow, driving the WRX with only 2 of my issue (and without my wife, thanks to the takata airbag fix for the passenger side being “don’t use the seat”) in a lively fashion leaves me well short of the experience of driving the fully loaded Outback.

In february, we are doing the full Griswold for the second time: load everybody up, add a cartop carrier, a hitch rack, and drive down from Delaware for a week visiting Mickey and the Princesses.

The experience of driving that loaded down Outback causes every other “dream car” to pale in comparison.