The Subaru Baja is a mid-size, car-based pickup truck. It is a front-engine, all-wheel drive vehicle designed to have the passenger capacity of a sedan with the load-carrying capacity of a small pickup. It has four doors and seats four. The cargo capacity is primarily in the open bed of the truck, but a cap or trunk lid can be added to the vehicle. It is designed to handle as a car but provide the carrying convenience of a pickup truck and is best suited to active individuals or small, active families.
The Subaru Baja is available as a 2.5-liter H4 engine capable of producing 165 horsepower or in a turbocharged model capable of producing 210 horsepower. It comes with four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The Subaru Baja's primary appeal is in its ability to function as both a truck and a car. It has approximately half of the cargo capacity of the average truck and can carry a payload of 1,050 lbs. It also has a 2,400 lb towing capacity, making this a good option for weekend warrior" types who enjoy surfing, biking, or trips to the hardware store for gardening supplies. With the addition of the trunk lid, it becomes functional for daily living. It gets 21mpg/city and 28mpg/highway.
The Subaru Baja debuted as a production model in 2003. In many ways, it looked like a truncated version of the Outlander and Legacy models from which it was inspired, and it drew on a tradition of trucks-as-cars that dates back to the Ford Ranchero. Despite its car-like features, the Baja is designed to be a lifestyle statement for those who want comfort along with the rugged look of a pickup. Due to poor sales and tough competition, production of the vehicle at the Subaru Lafayette, Indiana plant ceased in 2006, though Subaru stockpiled a number of the vehicles and they continued to be sold into 2008.
What sets the Subaru Baja apart are its car-like features. Although it does ride a bit like a truck, the Baja comes equipped with cruise control, bucket driver and front passenger seats, and a glass electric sunroof. It comes equipped with a four-speaker sound system. The Baja has anti-lock brakes and driver and passenger front airbags with multi-stage deployment. It receives above average front and side crash test ratings, is extremely rollover resistant, and has a truck bed that is reinforced with flying steel buttresses.
The Baja won several major awards during its short tenure, including the APEAL award from J.D. Power and Associates in 2003 and 2004. With these awards, it was named the "Most Appealing Compact Pickup". In 2006, Consumer Reports declared it the most reliable pickup truck.
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