Trucks & SUVs

Why Was the Subaru Baja Laid to Rest?

The Subaru Baja pickup truck. A historic desert running, mountain climbing flash of genius brought to us by Subaru. Fans weren’t abundant, though, and it didn’t last long. In fact, there were many who thought it was downright ugly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough interest in this embodiment of automotive adventure.

a Subaru Baja ute pickup truckparked on the pavement
Subaru Baja | ADF Crew

The Subaru produced the Baja unibody truck from 2003-2006 before laying it to rest. But why? Were sales really that bad? What was it that prevented this impressive little ute from impressing its corporate fate-deciders enough to live just a little bit longer?

The Subaru Baja and the Turbo version of the this Subaru pickup truck were both appreciated by a niche fanbase. And they’re missed. Today, these unibody trucks are sought after and have held their value surprisingly well.

What is a Subaru Baja pickup truck?

The Subaru Baja pickup truck came out as a 2003 model. It was called weird now and the sentiment remains today. But that’s kind of why people love it so much. It’s weird, and incredibly capable––yet nice to daily drive as it’s a unibody truck. Plus, it packs some serious heat in its quick Turbo version.

The Subaru Baja and Subaru Baja Turbo pickup truck are built right over the Subaru Outback station wagon platform. It was only available with an AWD powertrain, as are all American Subaru models. This unibody truck’s runty pickup bed reaches 41.5 inches, the Baja has 7.3 inches of ground clearance, and this station wagon with a truck bed can tow up to 2,400 pounds––according to Car and Driver.

If the small cargo bed is a problem, the rear seats fold forward. Additionally, there is the option to leave the tailgate open for added bed length. Overall its a good little station wagon, er… pickup truck.

A family stands outside of their Subaru Outback
A family standing with their Subaru Outback | Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

RELATED: Right Now Might Not Be a Good Time to Buy a Used Car

Subaru Baja Turbo

This unique ute maintains a certain aura of weirdness. It wins the praise for being “unlikely to get lost in a parking lot” from Edmunds. Still, the Subaru Baja pickup truck “won numerous awards, including the Consumer Reports 2006 highest score for reliability in the pickup truck category,” according to CarBuzz.

a Subaru Baja utility truck driving along the coast
Subaru Baja Turbo | Subaru of America

RELATED: Does the Honda Ridgeline’s Unibody Make it a Better Truck?

The Turbo version added a fast and fun wild card making this Subaru pickup truck even more exciting. It became available starting for the 2004 model year. It was a bit of a diversion form the original 165 horsepower engine it was released with. Car and Driver reported a 2.5 liter turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. It generates up to 210 horsepower. Also, a powerful 235 pound-feet of torque. This made the Baja a fun city driver in addition to being the little sand trotter it already was.

Why did Subaru stop making the Baja unibody truck? 

As with most discontinued models, this unibody truck just didn’t sell well. The Subaru Baja pickup truck station wagon ute creation hit a niche. A few people really loved the tiny unibody truck. Yet, it couldn’t justify continuing production. Additionally, CarBuzz sites slow sales. Overall, not enough people bought the Subaru pickup truck. However, some still seek this car with a truck bed. It’s almost like a collector model these days.

Will we ever see another Subaru pickup truck? Some hope so. Others think the Baja is exactly where it belongs––in the past. It will probably stay there. However, there have been rumors of a new Subaru pickup coming in the not so distant future. Will it be another unibody truck? Some say it will be based on the ascent. It could be another Outback truck. Or will Subaru surprise us all with something else?