This cool vehicle was only with us for three short years.
Subaru took an Outback station wagon and added a pickup bed. The thought was that it would appeal to a new generation of adventure seekers like those who climb mountains, backpack, camp, and kayak. But the Baja, introduced in 2003, wasn’t your bare-bones off-roader. Standard equipment, included a power sunroof, leather seating, an 80-watt CD stereo, a six-way power driver’s seat, and full-time all-wheel drive. You could get mountains of gear inside thanks to what Baja designers called the Switchback. Flip the seat cushions forward, fold the backrests down, and a pass-through door folds flat so you could slide in surfboards, skis, or even a canoe.
While it looked the part of being a serious off-roader, it really wasn’t because the longer pickup bed and aggressive front fascia reduced the Outback’s already marginal approach and departure angles. It had a ground clearance of 7.3 inches, a towing capacity of 2400 pounds, and a pickup bed that is only 41.5 inches long. It had a base price of around $25,000.
As with other Subaru models, it featured great reliability receiving the 2003 and 2004 J.D. Powers’s APEAL (for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study) Award which measured owner delight with the design, content, layout, and performance of their new vehicles for “Most Appealing Compact Pickup” and the Consumer Reports 2006 highest score for reliability in the pickup truck category. The automotive press was not always impressed. James Healey, writing for USAToday at the time of the Baja’s introduction called it a “controversial fashion statement with limited utility”.
RELATED Video: See how I did in Road America’s Winter Autocross Series.
It rolled out of Subaru’s plant in Lafayette, Indiana beginning in July of 2022 as a 2023 model. Subaru had projected selling 24,000 per year but over the model’s three-year run only sold 30,000 and in April 2006 ceased production.
Thanks for stopping by. Check back next week for another one of my car spots along with some of its history. Have a great weekend and tell your friends about out blog site.