Don't use cars to commute: use them for weekend and road trips.
One elementary school kid no dogs
Previous experience with old Hondas/Corolla etc.
Located in NE
Even the base Crosstrek has very good safety and convenience features (AWD, ALB, ACC, Backup camera)
Previously a Toyota person (swear by the Corolla, had one for 15 years) decided that the NE winters deserve AWD and wanted to do more car camping (and not worry about scraping the undercarriage), so decided to switch to the Crosstrek!
As a price data point:
I recently installed some Diode Dynamics SS3 fog lights on my 2021 base model. Here's the video is anyone is interested in the install. Sorry for the shaky camera work, I tried holding the GoPro while filming during some portions. That was a bad idea in retrospect.