Is the Subaru Baja Going to Make a Comeback?

Alex Reale
Dec 1, 2021 · 4 min read
If you squint a little, the shape of a Subaru Baja in profile looks like the famous boa constrictor who swallowed an elephant in The Little Prince. The elephant in the middle is the cabin, and the head and tail of the snake are the hood and the flatbed.
It is definitively a weird shape for a car, but the Subaru Baja was not made to be elegantly shaped; it was made to accomplish a specific set of goals for a specific kind of driver. Is it possible that it’s making a comeback?
2005 Subaru Baja driving on a curved road
Fans of the Subaru Baja are always looking for hints of its return.

The Subaru Baja lifestyle

This funky little pickup, which was only on the market from 2002 to 2006, was cherished by outdoorsy folks who didn’t want to commit to a Tacoma but still wanted to be able to haul their climbing gear and adventurous friends. It was basically a Subaru Outback that grew a pickup bed, so it came with the great handling of an Outback along with all the features that hard-core adventurers love.
The flatbed alone begged to be filled to the brim with spare mountain bike tires, but the rear seat pass-through made it possible to throw in some skis too. And let’s not forget that a pickup isn’t just about storage space. The Baja was capable of towing a decent 2,400 pounds, so drivers had several options for getting gear from Denver to Longs Peak. And they’d enjoy a commuter-style drive along the way, thanks to the Outback base.

Rumors about the vehicle

Fans of this quirky combo vehicle are always on the lookout for a resurgence, and lucky for them, there have been some rumblings online about a new Subaru Baja. The hosts of a podcast by Motor1 speculated about what this new version might look and feel like, and threw out some pros and cons for the business case if Subaru made this leap.
They point out that diverting production away from the Outback would not be wise, since it’s such a cash cow, but note also that smaller-scale pickups from other brands are gaining traction in the market. So if there were ever a time to bring back the Baja, it would be now.
A blog post from a Subaru dealership in Kentucky dropped some oddly specific details about a new Baja, being careful to avoid saying anything definite. They mentioned key selling points for the vehicle, such as “maximum utility” and “minimized carbon impact.” Most concretely, we learn that a new Baja could be expected to haul up to 5,000 pounds. This may just be clever repurposing of the old Baja’s specs and capabilities, but the speculating is great fun.

You may have to stick with the Outback for now

Unfortunately, it seems that no one knows for sure if we’ll be seeing a new Subaru Baja. If you’re thinking of setting aside some cash to purchase one, keep in mind that in 2002 it cost $25,000, and Subaru models are only getting more sophisticated. The Outback is still probably your best bet if you’re desperate for an adventure car, but you won’t get the head turns that the Baja used to get.
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