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Great Cars That Nobody Bought: Subaru Baja

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On: Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 11:16AM | By: Teddy Field

Great Cars That Nobody Bought: Subaru Baja

When most car companies build a car, they look at prevailing market trends, then design a car that meet customer demand. Subaru... doesn't. They get a drum of saké, invite the guys from the Swiss Army Knife factory, then come up with some multi-purpose survival tool that has 4-wheel drive and a big honkin' turbo. Such is the case with the 2003–2006 Subaru Baja, a car-truck hybrid that's brilliantly insane...

The Subaru Outback is a 4-wheel drive station wagon that has lots of ground clearance and a fair amount of off-road capability. The Subaru Baja is based on that same famous automotive contradiction. Except the back-half of the roof has been lopped off to make a truck bed. And since it's a Subaru, it's rather well thought out.

Even though the bed of the Subaru Baja measures just 3.4 feet long, most of them came with an optional flip-out bed extender that increased it to 4.8 feet. Since many buyers would likely need that extra space, the bottom of the license plate frame could be lifted using two buttons, which allowed the tag to be seen with the tailgate was lowered. The bed itself was lined to resist damage, and there were built-in drain holes, along with cutouts for 2X4s, so you could fashion cargo separators or a bi-level bed.

But the cleverness didn't end there. Oh no. The backseat of the Subaru Baja could be ordered as a two-place perch, with cupholders and a center storage compartment, or a three-place bench. Either way, the seat bottom can be folded forward to reveal a ruggedized flat load floor, and the seatback can be lowered to reveal a 31X12-inch access door to the cargo bed, which increases total bed length to 7.5 ft.

Obviously, that 7.5-foot bed is limited by the dimensions of the access door. But Subaru said, "Simply fold the rear seat out of the way, open the 31X12-inch pass-through panel, and load your surfboard, skis or toboggan." We suspect that if you even know what a toboggan is, you'll want to buy a Subaru Baja right away.

Due to low sales numbers (roughly 31k total), the American-designed Subaru Baja was sold only from 2003–2006. During that time, Subaru offered their—car-uck—with a 165hp 2.5L boxer-4, and a 210hp turbocharged 2.5L boxer-4. They also sold lots of Baja accessories, which were designed to help you load everything from mountain bikes to salad shooters. But, no matter how it was specced, the Subaru Baja was a useful little... thing.

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