Was the Subaru Baja Really That Bad?

Long ago in a factory far, far away called Lafayette, Indiana, the Subaru Baja was assembled. You’d be hard-pressed to find one of these Subaru pickup trucks because it was only produced from 2003-2006. Sure it was only around for a few model years and didn’t sell very well, but was the Subaru Baja really that bad? The Baja is one of the automaker’s only attempts at a pickup truck. With off-road capability making it big with the Subaru brand, could another one be in the works?

Did anyone buy the Subaru Baja?

A red Subaru Baja with a white background
2005 Subaru Baja | Auto Blog

The Baja wasn’t manufactured or sold for very long. That’s largely due to its poor sales numbers over its short life. The Subaru Baja peaked in sales during its first model year after selling just over 2,500 units in 2002. The 2003 model year saw 10,694 Baja’s blasting out of dealerships and into owner’s driveways. Though, it didn’t get any better from there. The rest of the life of the Baja saw a steady decline in sales each year, according to CarSalesBase. By the final model year of the Baja in 2006, it sold 5,241 units, followed by a record low of 1,127 in 2007. Compare those sales figures to the best-selling pickup truck in America at that time, and it looks even worse.

In 2007, the Ford F-150 sold 691,589 units. That’s 690,462 more trucks than the Subaru Baja sold during that year. In fact, it’s 657,457 more F-150s than Bajas sold during all of its model years combined. In such a competitive vehicle segment in the United States, figures like Subaru’s pickup had during these years are unsustainable. The Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Chevrolet Silverado have been some of the best-selling vehicles in America for some time. Competing in the pickup truck market is no easy task for any automaker.

The Baja Turbo was a Baja blast

A silver Subaru Baja Turbo parked outside near a tree
Subaru Baja Turbo | Wikimedia

Some of the main reasons for the discontinuation of the Subaru Baja are poor sales figures and being completely unable to compete in the segment. There was, however, a small niche community that really liked the pickup. This unibody truck was not the best-looking one you’ve seen on the road, but it was functionally a solid vehicle. It basically looks like a car with a truck bed sticking out of the back, making it the opposite of an eye-pleaser. A lot of people liked it for a few other reasons, though.

Built on the Outback station wagon platform, the Baja only came in AWD and featured a turbo version. It was capable of towing up to 2,400 pounds, and the rear seats could fold forward for added interior cargo space. The Turbo variant made it more exciting to drive and added a bit more appeal. The Baja Turbo became available for the 2004 model year and added a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which could generate up to 210-horsepower. It came with a factory standard 7.3 inches of ground clearance, making off-road driving an easy task.

Where’s the truck today?

To state the obvious, it’s been discontinued. To elaborate more about the current whereabouts, it’s actually a bit expensive. If buyers are interested in purchasing a used one of these unibody pickups, they’ll have to pay a premium price tag. Once the vehicles died out, they became rare and a little sought after. With larger demand than units sold all time, the price you’ll pay for a Subaru Baja in 2021 is probably more than you’d expect.

Between 2003 and 2006, only about 30,000 of these vehicles made it onto the streets. That means the demand of the niche group who wants to drive a Baja is high, but it can’t be met. Base model Bajas from 2005 can go for over $10,000. That’s for units with over 100,000 miles that aren’t in very good condition. Compare that to the Outback of the same year, from which it gets its platform, selling for around $6,000 to $8,000. We previously reported a 2005 Baja Turbo with only 25,000 miles being sold by a dealership in California for $19,999.

Is the Subaru Baja coming back?

The return of the Baja has not been confirmed by the automaker and therefore is completely unofficial. Though the rumors are swirling and anything is a possibility. After all, where there’s smoke, there’s usually going to be fire. With plenty of new vehicle releases focusing on the EV market and bringing back old nameplates, the Baja is a genuine possibility.

There are plenty of electric pickup trucks becoming available over the next few years, so could Subaru bring the Baja back as an EV? A Baja redesign and a focus on futuristic fully electric power could be just what the model needs to compete in the current market. We’d expect the truck to get away from the Outback platform, and look to compete with real compact pickups. Could the 2022 or 2023 model year give us the Subaru Baja vs. the Toyota Tacoma?

The Baja is an often forgotten unibody truck that has its positives and negatives. Though it didn’t sell well, some people are still very interested in it due to its unique look and surprising capability. A modern version of it is a real possibility, though completely unconfirmed. We don’t think the Subaru Baja was that bad in most ways outside of its overall design and style. If Subaru were able to make a similarly capable truck and make it look a whole lot more attractive, it could have a winner in its hands.

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