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  • The Subaru Baja was a sales flop that would’ve killed it today
  • Rumors swirl, but no word from Subaru on a 2023 Subaru Baja
  • The Hyundai Santa Cruz proves there’s room in the world for a new Baja

The revival of long-dead factory names is something of a trend recently. Acura is bringing back the Integra, and Subaru… well, Subaru needs to follow suit. Rumors have already begun to circulate around the internet about Subaru doing just that in the form of a 2023 Subaru Baja, a model from deep in the brand’s backlog. Plus, with the recent success of cars and trucks like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Subaru Outback, the time is nigh for a small truck/car like the Baja.

Why was the Subaru Baja discontinued?

A black Baja ute, the potential inspiration for a 2023 Subaru Baja, shot from the front 3/4
A 2005 Baja Turbo | Subaru

You’d be forgiven for having not heard of the Subaru Baja. It was the successor to the famed Subaru BRAT of old. It was a rather obscure model (both the BRAT and the Baja). Each car was designed to do the same thing. Albeit three decades apart. Like a mullet, both cars are party in the back and business out front. Now, to circle back to the Subaru Baja for a moment, it was really the first of the “lifestyle vehicles.”

Debuting in early 2001, the Subaru Baja ran from July 2002 to April of 2006. During those years, the Baja was, well, a sales flop. Clearly, the people of the United States were not ready for the Australian Ute concept. Offering either a turbocharged or naturally aspirated 2.5L boxer engine, the Baja was a sales hit that never came to be. Evidently, the idea of a small car that can do it all has made something of a resurgence in the form of cars like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Subaru’s own Outback.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a worthy Baja successor

A tan green Hyundai Santa Cruz truck shot from the front 3/4 in front of a lighthouse
The new Santa Cruz is a hotly anticipated truck | Hyundai

Fast forward to today, and small “trucky” cars are all the rage again. The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz are proving to be incredibly popular. Clearly, both take the Subaru Baja formula and build upon it. The Santa Cruz offers a turbocharged four-pot and AWD, just like the Baja. It’s also got just enough room to fit a few mountain bikes in the back, like the Baja. Finally, the design is a fresh, new take on a segment we don’t see in America often. Sound familiar?

With models like this making a comeback, it’s obvious why rumors of a 2023 Subaru Baja are starting to swirl again. A small handful of renders have started to pop up, like this one. Frankly, it would be a huge miss for Subaru not to jump on the bandwagon here. The brand already has a tall, unibody chassis that can easily fit four doors and a small truck bed in the form of the Outback, after all.

Will there be a 2023 Subaru Baja?

The rear of a Subaru Baja loaded with mountain bikes on a desert back road
The Baja and Subaru BRAT should have been more popular | Subaru

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As for the likelihood of a 2023 Subaru Baja? Unfortunately, Subaru has given no indication that anything is in the works. However, the brand is known to pay attention to trends quite well. The Outback Wilderness was built because that’s what Outback owners were doing to their cars anyways. And if Outback owners get neat stuff, why can’t fans of the Baja get some too?