Yeah. I'm pretty proud of this lens and wrote a review on Adorama where I got it as well as here. Mine was perfect right out of the box. I is a little softer at f2.8 but only if you're zooming in to about 75% or so.
Hey, fellow Hoosier!
I have had all of the mid priced lenses with good reps and this one is my favorite. Although I really liked the Tamron 28-75. I have the same thoughts on this 17-70 as you do. It could be sharper on the wide open end when zooming. I just love this lenses versatility and thought I would miss a constant 2.8 f, but don't.