posted at the Cohort by canadiancatgreen
So how is this any better than an Outback wagon? And with the canopy off, what exactly would fit in the baby bed? I guess these questions weren’t properly considered before the Baja went into production.
Subaru planned to sell 24k per year. As it turned out they struggled to sell 30k in its lifetime (2003-2006). Some new ones were sold as late as 2008. A very rare flub for Subaru, the company that can seem to do no wrong. Well, there was that Tribeca too…
I thought they were cool, but I wouldn’t actually buy one.
A totally worthless POS. I would rather have a wagon. And I did. A 1983 GL, from Vermont, complete with a factory stock Carter 1BBL carb on it. Loved that car, it was awesome. Sold it when I got an offer I simply couldn’t refuse. Paid $500 for it needing a clutch, did the clutch, drove it for a year and a half, sold for $2500. Bam! And have never had the desire to own another Urabus
A 2 door “Brat” revival might have found a more consistent/youthful audience. My Mom is on her second Subie. Flawless cars.
My guess would be that Subaru was trying to recapture the idea of the Brat, but in a more family-friendly 4-door version. It certainly worked for Jeep when they made a 4-door version of the Wrangler!
According to Wikipedia: With the rear seats folded forward, there’s a movable panel that can increase the cargo room in the bed, same as a Chevy Avalanche.
The moveable panel is actually quite small. I have an Outback, and would have loved a bedded Baja with a cap for my dogs (the weatherproof bed is more to my use), but the inability to totally open the Baja cabin to the bed a la the Avalance is what killed it for me. With the seats folded down, my Outback can haul fulled sized appliances or other large objects no problem, not possible with the Baja.
Judging from those pictures, it appears going inside nets you an additional 30 inches. However, dropping the tailgate nets you 18 inches, plus the Baja was 6″ longer to begin with, taking you to 24″. When you factor in the slope of the rear hatch of the wagon, plus the limitations of the roof, it seems clear that the Baja would haul more in its open bed and would be better for hauling taller appliances like ovens, refrigerators, washers, etc.
Of course you said you wanted a cap so that doesn’t apply.
Plus it would’ve had a 6 foot box, long enough to be useful.
I thought they were kind of neat until I saw one in person. That bed is tiny. I suppose it was useful if you had small amounts of wet, dirty, smelly, etc stuff to haul around. But this thing needed a box extender just to fit bicycles in it. And that looong rear overhang looked awful.
On top of that, my sister’s Outback wagon of that vintage has been a POS. They are done with Subarus, althogh like I always say you can get a stinker from anybody.
I thought about getting one of these, in yellow, of course, for my first car, just so I’d have something standing out in our high school’s sea of Monte Carlos, Grand Prixs, and mildly-lifted pickup trucks. But the only example I could find close to home had about 200,000 miles on it.
I still wouldn’t turn one of these out of my driveway (implying I have a driveway).
The mistake on that was doing it as a four-door. The car didn’t have enough length to do two rows of seats and still carry anything.
Then again, I just don’t get four-door pickups. Add in a lift kit, and you got something I loathe way beyond broughams. Especially being stuck behind one on a wet road.
As someone else pointed out here recently, 4-door pickups are the replacement for the traditional American fullsize sedan: seating for up to 6 people, available V8, available RWD, ample towing capacity, huge trunk. (By passenger car standards, even a short-box pickup has a huge trunk.)
Really? I thought you loved 4 doors 🙂
I do, when they’re B or C class size, normally. Although there are a few huge ones that do turn me on: Bentley’s and Jaguar’s primarily.
This is what happens when a Japanese design team gets to read about market trends in the United States, but doesn’t get to spend enough time here to actually understand the market. The whole DIY/Home Depot/buy-8-bags-of-mulch thing doesn’t really exist in Japan.
Just Saturday, I stopped next to a silver one of these at a stoplight. I was In Lafayette, of course (home of the U.S. Subaru factory), so I suppose these are more common here than most places. I wondered how many of them they sold, and now I know.
And in Brazil the Strada and Saveiro extended cabs are daily sights. Ronald Reagan love this.
They are cool looking, but I wonder what there is about the Brazilian lifestyle that suggests driving what is basically a car with a hole in its trunk.
I almost think these Subies should’ve carried this basic bodystyle: extended cab with 2 clamshell doors, and just a bit more bed space but all on the same compact wheelbase. Mightve been a little better overall execution…
I think that would have been a mistake, these are much closer to the passenger-carrying end of the spectrum than the load-lugging. The Holden Crewman had significantly compromised rear seats (a much too vertical backrest) and lost sales to people who wanted to use them.
I imagine there was a fair amount of cross-shopping between these and the Honda Ridgeline, and I wonder how many pickup buyers would be better off with one. Being based on a passenger car gives significant improvements in comfort and roadholding over traditional small/midsize pickups.
Surprisingly enough in ute-prone Australia they weren’t sold here. We did get the Brumby/Brat up until they went out of production in 1993 from memory and they were quite popular.
Interesting point. Maybe they coudlve taken a 2 pronged approach: leave the crewcab/supershortie bed as is, and then do a single cab with generous proportions (el camino like) and a 5.5 ish foot bed for a more dedicated hauler that’s still sporty and tight handling.
Surprisingly enough in ute-prone Australia they weren’t sold here. We did get the Brumby/Brat up until they went out of production in 1993 from memory and they were quite popular.
An RHD version have been a no-brainer to develop since the Baja was on the Legacy (Liberty in Oz) platform. An oft-told legend in Subie enthusiast circles is that the Baja was conceived to make up for the eventual loss of Isuzu production at the SIA plant in Indiana. The original agreement that created the Lafayette plant was dissolved in late 2002 and Isuzu production ended in 2004.
I know two people who own these. They both love them, and are now dreading when they finally wear out because there is nothing in the US market that directly replaces them. One hunted far and wide to replace their original one when it was totaled.
One friend is an avid whitewater kayaker. With a rack and the bed extender, it fits her lifestyle perfectly. The other finds the space good for road trips, hauling the grandkids around, trips to the antique store and trips to the garden center. Subby sold a lockable hard padded bed cover that provides some (in truth very little) security, and made the space somewhat weather resistant.
They’d be handy for hauling skinny tall items , like a Christmas tree or fridge.
Or the GMC Envoy XUV, minus the retractable roof.
I’ve hauled both in an A6 Avant.
Big deal. *Yawns*
The Audi will fit a pallet in the back (Yes, I’ve done it). I doubt this will.
I’d like to see the payload capacity on these. I’d have to wonder if you’d run out of space, or weight capacity, first. It’ll be close.
Google says 885 to 1070 lbs. for the Baja. A half-ton pickup from Subaru? I’ve heard of weirder things.
Payload was 1050 pounds. Tow rating was 2,400 pounds. Pretty light duty, similar to the other cute-utes of the day I suppose.
Actually, the Baja had one advantage over the rest of the line: you could get it with a turbo engine and stick-shift. The Outbacks did offer a six-cylinder engine, but only with the automatic. And at the time the Legacy GT came only with the basic NA 4-cylinder.
In my opinion, this was a mini-me of the successful-at-the-time Explorer Sport Trac. Which was, of course, an Explorer with a uselessly small bed. At least it was bigger than this…but there seemed to be a time (2002-04 maybe?) that it was quite popular. For whatever reason.
In my opinion the only one of these “hybrids” that was done right was the Chevy Avalance/Cadillac Escalade EXT. Some assembly required, but you could have a nearly 8-foot bed, or a fully sealed passenger compartment (and still a longer bed than a Sport Trac). Granted, they ended up suffering from something of an image problem, but part of that may have been marketing. Still a decent seller (16K in its worst year, over 90K in its best.)
I saw a blue Sport Trac at the Tim Horton’s drivethru on Sunday morning. It must’ve been the “Adrenalin” version because it had the fake vents on the front fenders. I thought it looked pretty sharp.
Im not much of a Ford fan, but a 4wd , V8 SporTrac in Adrenalin trim is pretty damn sharp. Unfortunately, many of the 2nd gen versions carried the boat anchor V6 and some grampa paint job (merlot red, dark grey, beige, etc) with a crapload of blingy chrome. BLECH.
I really liked the Avalanche and came very close to buying one. It had a couple problems too though. That extra space around the wheel wells in a pickup really adds a lot more usable space. The Avalanche bed, which is a straight 4′ wide from front/back/top/bottom, felt cramped when you got up in it, especially with the sail panels. It was also quite a bit more expensive than a comparable crew cab pickup.
People I know who had them tended to love them. Being based on the Suburban with coils in back, it rode and handled nicer than a pickup. And being able to have 8′ of dry storage in a crew cab was nice.
It’s not cute like the original BRAT. With the canopy on, it looks like just another CUV that Mom drives two blocks to pick up her spoiled BRAT kids at school. With the canopy off, you wish you had a regular trunk with a lid on it.
I like those hybrid bodies for their rarity, but their appeal is so limited. The gal with a kyack is a pretty small market.
I’ve got the ’07 Legacy Outback, last year of its body. 67K miles and it hasn’t started to cost any real money yet. My best buddy has an identical car with 90K+, and he has spent some… timing belt head gaskets, etc., and his mechanic says it should be good for 40-50K miles more with no major repairs. IMHO it’s the best balanced Subaru from a stylistic standpoint. I have it in Willow and Spruce. Nice combo. Hands down better in snow than my ’98 Grand Cherokee ever was. I don’t recommend the Goodyear Eagles I put on it two years ago for snow going if you want to back up a hill because they are vectored, and you just spin. Gas mileage is so-so, it’s a heavy car.
A wagon is a wagon, a truck is a truck – never the twain shall meet! Whatever became of the Honda Ridgeline? I have never been able to figure out that one.
The Ridgeline may have held-out longer because it’s primary competition such as the Chevy Avalanche, Ford Sport Trac and today’s featured Subaru were all discontinued. After that it had the “sport utility truck” market pretty much to itself.
Ridgeline was discontinued after MY2014. Honda says they are working on a replacement though.
There are a certain group of Honda loyalists who will buy anything with a Honda badge. I suspect most of them were bought by Honda loyalists who wanted a pickup.
Someone in motor pool at the university I work at loves Hondas, they own a couple Ridgelines for facilities and campus police – the campus police one hauls around cones when they need to block stuff off. They also have a bunch of Honda CRV’s as campus police cars.
I like the idea of a Ridgeline. With a bit bigger box and better mileage I’d consider it. For what it cost I didn’t think it offered enough utility. And it was ugly as heck, the styling was like a Chinese Avalanche knock-off.
I like the overall look and the concept of the Ridgeline, same as the Element. But both suffered some pretty fatal flaws: wimpy engines, manual transmissions that were either rare as hens teeth in the case of the E or nonexistent in the RL, and Honda’s awd system is a joke. Its more like a ‘rear wheel assist’ setup that can carry something like 30% of the available torque. Maybe its just as well that Honda’s engines are weak…what passes for driveline components looks more like 3/8 drive socket wrench extensions.
I really wanted one of these when they came out….
I like these things. 4 seats, available turbo power mated to a manual trans and AWD…whats not to like? Is it a ‘real’ truck, hell no and its not pretending to be. But with the bed extender, I guarantee it will handle 90% of the hauling duties that most ‘casual’ pickup owners will throw at it. Ive wanted to get my hands on a Baja several times. Turbo models are plentiful but usually are slushboxes….no go. Manuals can be easily found on normally aspirated versions but that kind of kills the appeal. When a turbo/manual DOES show up, its usually a 100K mile car and they still want over $15K for it. AND its usually that dumpy dark metallic grey color too…
I remember when I first saw the Baja. Although I was glad Subaru finally brought back a pickup truck, I was hoping it’d be smaller, like the Impreza. Hopefully Subaru will make an Impreza based pickup truck.
I remember when these first came out I laughed. Although I was taking Spanish at the time and did appreciate the name “Baja” for the short bed. Still though, these were horrible, with all that cladding and the common yellow paint. I’m surprised that it wasn’t made by Pontiac.
And I don’t know if I’d call Subaru the company that can seem to do know wrong. Regardless of sales flops like this and the B9 Tribeca, I don’t really think any Subaru has ever been a standout in any segment, and they’ve never been particularly attractive or exciting designs. I’m not saying they’re bad cars, there’s just not that much to get excited about, including the BRZ. My opinion anyway.
It can seem to do no wrong in terms of sales, which is what really counts (and what I meant). Subaru has been the fastest growing brand (except for a few minor ones) in the US for years now, and has now surpassed VW.
FWIW, in their main segment, AWD wagons (Outback) they essentially have no real competition in their price range.
Thanks for clarifying, I misinterpreted what you meant.
it doesn’t look bad with the cap, don’t think I’ve seen that before
I think this is one of the ugliest wheeled vehicles ever made–but, I almost bought one. My local Subaru dealer (who had sold me my 2003 H6 Outback) had an ’03 languishing on his lot until mid-2004, and was going to give me a good deal on it…but I just couldn’t pull the trigger on something that hideous. (I still have the H6.)
I think there is a little too much negativity against the Baja on many comments. You call it useless because of the tiny bed… Well, I’m sure people that bought it weren’t really looking for a super useful pickup truck to work with. They surely just wanted the styling and the potential to put a little more things there than in the regular Outback or Legacy.
These were sold in Chile, and see them from time to time. I’ve always liked its looks. Other Subarus look so serious, you don t see them in that cool yellow colour, for instance.
Im with you, Ramon. These are cars, not truck. Theyre not designed for general contractors, offroaders, or heavy trailer haulers. Theyre recreational vehicles designed more for a performance enthusiast or outdoorsy type that needs to do some light hauling. Sedans are worthless, and wagons are still a bit limited by the rear roof. There’s some things you just don’t want to carry on the inside of your car.
Considering the Subaru to population ratio here is the highest on this planet I’m surprised Fuji never tried this on the NZ market we have everything else and then some and Subarus despite their issues sell like beer at a football game, Ok the carrying capacity of this thing is quite limited but for dump runs and bringing stuff from Mitre 10 Mega it would do ok.
cool my photo was used. this was really neat with the canopy it is the only time i seen one with the canopy. interetingly enough we used to live in at 42nd and Gladstone here we are on Gladstone looking towards 42nd. If you look behind the truck you can see where the house we lived in used to be. it is where the newer pink house now sits
You really have to look twice to tell it’s a canopy and not just a wagon. If it was black you would have to look 3 times.
I’d always thought these were odd, both in appearance and in concept. But when my wife’s Volvo 240 began to disintegrate in late 2006, she fell for the Baja…and I had to reassess my reactions to it. Happy wife and all that. The good news was you can get a pretty smokin’ good deal on a discontinued model. Having the upper hand at a Northern California Subaru dealer is a rarity.
The Baja is probably less practical than the Outback but they are certainly unique. I’ve seen perhaps 3 others here in the Oakland/Berkeley area over the years…versus maybe 30,000 Outbacks. You don’t buy a Baja to fit in.
But now that the damned thing has grown on me, my wife announced last week that she’s ready for something new. I wonder if the VW dealer has any Phaetons left on the lot…or a W8 Passat?
Several times over my tenure as a CC commenter I’ve mentioned just how few Subarus (including our Forester) there are in our area (Alton, IL – population 28K). There are at best 25 or so that I regularly see driving around here and in the neighboring towns. It’s not unusual to spend a couple of hours out running errands and not see another Subaru. Surprisingly, out of that number three of them are Bajas. One blue, one red, and of course a yellow one.
Since becoming a member of The Cult of Pleiades I’ve attended a couple of Subaru gatherings and chatted with Baja owners. As stated in the comments, they’re very a fiercely loyal lot and do everything they can to keep them running and looking good. Unfortunately they’re already running into problems getting certain trim parts and anything related to the bed or tailgate. SOA discontinued many of the Baja-specific parts years before they normally do and there aren’t many Bajas in junkyards – they’re all on the road with 150-200K on them!
The cladding on this puts Pontiacs of the era to shame
I think I would find the Pontiac (and Chevy Avalanche) cladding a lot less offensive if they’d painted it a contrasting colour or silver like this. I like 2-tone paintjobs. However, the huge expanse of matte black plastic just screams “cheap”.
I disagree. The Avalanche cladding was awesome BECAUSE it was unpainted matte plastic, making it scratch, scuff, and dent resistant when roaming off road (or parking lots, for that matter). Being matte black served a purpose.
If they could have only figured out a way to keep it from oxidizing it would have been perfect.
Painted cladding is pointless.
The only explanations I can come with are Avalanche envy or rose tinted memories of the BRAT. On the bright side at least you are spared the excess weight and roof leak issues of a Studebaker Wagonaire/GMC XUV style sliding roof but the only use cases I can see are hauling a highboy home from the antique auction or transporting your mountain unicycles.
Whatever the downfalls, the few that come up on craigslist and cars.com seem to be asking much higher sales prices as compared to normal legacies/outbacks from the same vintage and mileage.
I thought they were a neat concept, and I’m glad that Subaru tried making them. Boring, look-alike (silver) cars don’t interest me….
These had a real cool factor the same thing like the Baka Rampage El Camino and Ranchero like those exact vehicles for day to day use it was perhaps not the most practical. It was however cool I will admit that not only do I prefer the wagon I own one and also can mention where the big monster house is that pink one is where a cool little house was built in 1912 used as b&b during Expo 86 which was our home