The Subaru Baja was sold in only one generation being available between 2002 and 2006. The idea behind the Baja, was to develop a vehicle which came with an all wheel drive, four passenger carrying capability and an open bed at the back. Basically Subaru wanted to create a vehicle that combines the handling and comfort of a conventional passenger car with the practicality of a pickup truck, a concept that can be also found at many American small pickups.
The Subaru Baja had a unibody design and shared many common elements with the Legacy and Outback models.
The Subaru Baja was available only with a double cab configuration and was powered by a 2.4 liter flat-4 engine.
The Baja’s exterior design is pretty similar with the Legacy Outback. Though, there are some elements which betray the utilitarian nature of the pickup.
The most significant modifications over the Outback, were the enlarged front fenders and the Silver Stone Metallic side body cladding.
The radiator grille was also a unique design element and was painted in the same color as the front bumper. The main lights looked pretty simple, but they gave the truck a sporty look.
The neat bonnet was traversed by two creases which made it look pretty muscular. Moving on to the bumper, it came with a pretty rugged style and was fitted with two huge fog lamps that looked a bit out of place, giving the Baja a toy-like look.
A power moon-roof was offered as standard equipment, as well as roof rails and crossbars.
The Subaru Baja rides on a 104.3-inch wheelbase and measures 193.3 inches long overall. l. It has a ground clearance of 7.3 inches, a towing capacity of 2400 pounds and a pickup bed that measures only 41.5 inches long. Luckily, the load bed is expandable and can fit mountain bikes, surfboards, scuba gear and other.
The Baja can seat up to four passengers in full comfort, with decent leg and head room for all of them. For its time, the interior design was pretty nice with well sorted ergonomics and intuitively placed controls.
The materials were also pretty good, being at par with the Japanese rivals. Though, some of those flimsy cheap plastics can still be found, while some switches feel pretty cheap as well.
On the other hand, we like the center stack and the gear knob falls fairly easy into hand. The good impression was also continued by the numerous storage places and cup holders found around the cab.
The driver is greeted by an ergonomically designed four door steering wheel which looks pretty good and offers a confident grab. Both the gear knob and steering wheel are wrapped in fine stitched leather.
You won’t have any complains about the rear and front seats either and you also have a great view of the road ahead. The instrument cluster was pretty basic, but was easy to read and didn’t distract you from the road.
At the back, there is no center rear position, as that space is taken by a useful console. The rear cushion flips up and the back folds forward for extra interior cargo space, or to allow long items to fit through the practical 30 x 12-inch “Switchback” gate.
Standard equipment included air conditioning, keyless entry, a six-way power driver’s seat, an outside-temperature gauge, and power windows, door locks and mirrors.
Engines and performance
The Subaru Baja is equipped with a 2.5 liter engine which has to deal with a curb weight of 3500-lb. The engine delivers a maximum output of 165 hp achieved at 5600 rpm which is good enough to send the Baja to 100 kmph in less than 10 seconds, which is at par with what you’d usually find in this segment.
The engine’s torque is rated at 166 lb-ft achieved at 4000 rpm helping you tow up to 2400 lbs.
Overall, the Subaru Baja’s engine had a reasonable grunt, but don’t expect to any sporty performances as it knows its limits.
Power is sent to the four wheels by means of a standard five speed gearbox which features smooth shift linkages. Though, its wide gear ratios do affect the acceleration.
Subaru Baja Engines Specifications
| Engine || hp @ rpm || lb-ft @ rpm |
| 2.5 liter || 165 @ 5600 || 166 @ 4000 |
Ride and handling
The Subaru Baja’s ride is quality cushy even on uneven roads, so you won’t have to worry about getting you small truck dirty. The steering is also linear and sharp letting you know exactly what the wheels are planning.
Moving on to the handling, it’s pretty fun for a pickup, with a well controlled body balance and small body roll in corners.
The overall road manners don’t betray the utilitarian character of the truck and the Baja is pretty civilized. To achieve this result, the Baja is helped by its rigid chassis, the low center of gravity and the four wheel independent suspension.
Needless to say, that the 4WD system is fairly capable delivering a proper grip at all times regardless of the road conditions.
The Subaru Baja was a bold move made by the Japanese company. The vehicle was pretty fun to drive, had a reasonable engine and a capable 4WD system, which helped it deal with any type of terrain with poise.
The cabin had also an attractive design and was very comfortable for a pickup. Though, the exterior design didn’t respect the aggressive trend of its time and many have considered it too soft even for a small pickup truck.