Despite rumours of its impending demise, the Subaru Baja continues into 2006, with no changes from 2005. The price also remains at the 2005 level.
Based on the Legacy, the Baja is a car body with a pickup box, a style originally used by the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero. The Baja has a pass-through to the cargo box, called a “Switchback”. Flip the seats and fold the backrests, and there’s room to slide in long items. If more space is needed, a cargo container is available: lower the tailgate, drop the container on it and use the gate as a bed extension.
The sole engine is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic can be added.
There is only one trim line. The Baja comes with air conditioning, power sunroof, power windows, power heated mirrors, cruise control, heated cloth seats, CD player with four speakers, power locks, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, fog lights, privacy glass, and underbody engine and fuel tank protection.
The Baja features the same comfortable ride and excellent handling characteristics of the Legacy. Despite its skid plates and all-wheel-drive, this isn’t an off-road vehicle. Instead, it’s a quirky but versatile way to move people and a reasonable amount of gear around. The Outback wagon does the same thing, and provides the Baja with considerable competition, but it doesn’t have the surfer-dude appeal of the little carry-all. Nothing else does, either; no other company makes anything quite like it.