The 2003 Baja is Subaru's take on 'crossover' vehicles.

2003 Subaru Baja Crosses the Border Between Car and Pickup
By: Michael LevinePosted: 01-08-02 22:00

Originally shown as the well received ST-X concept vehicle at the 2000 Los Angeles International Auto Show, Subaru took the wraps off of its brand new 2003 Baja in Detroit.

The four-passenger Baja is based on Subaru's successful Legacy sedan / Outback wagon platform and the family resemblance is unmistakable. Baja shares the same prominent front end as the Legacy and Outback from the B-pillars forward but from the C-pillar back its pickup truck bed provides flexibility and new cargo carrying capabilities not found in the other two cars.

Baja's hauling abilities expand when its "Switchback" system is used. Similar in function to the Midgate pioneered in Chevrolet's Avalanche, Switchback enables owners to quickly fold down the rear seats and a panel in the wall under the back glass, expanding the bed length to a full 7.5-feet when combined with an optional bed extender. The bed also includes an integrated liner with four tie-downs and a light.

On the outside, the Baja exclusively wears an alloy fuel door and 'Silver Stone' colored lower body cladding. Roof rails with cross bars are standard equipment.

Sliverstone cladding is unique to Baja in Subaru's lineup.

Inside, the Baja is as comfortable as its exterior is rugged. Leather trimmed seats, a power moonroof and six-way power driver's seat are standard. Most of the interior is straight from the Outback.

Aside from Audi's Quattro, Subaru probably has the best known all-wheel drive system available in a car or truck. It's AWD rally cars have won races and championships around the world.

Baja owners opting for a 5-speed manual transmission use Subaru's Continuous All Wheel drive that has a viscously coupled center differential. Automatic Bajas receive Active All Wheel Drive that sends power to all four wheels using a viscous limited slip rear differential.

Power is supplied by a standard 2.5-liter four cylinder engine that has 165 hp and 166 ft-lbs. of torque. No other engine options have been announced yet but it can probably be assumed the Baja will also offer a V6.

Subaru is betting that new buyers, who appreciate Subaru's quirkiness and originality, will want to jump into the highly unique Baja.

2003 Subaru Baja Specifications

Vehicle Type
Four passenger crossover combining car body with rear pickup bed.

Wheelbase: 104.3
Overall Length: 193.3
Curb Weight (estimated): 3,500 lbs.

Type: 2.5-liter 4 cylinder Phase II SOHC boxer engine, horizontally opposed
Horsepower: 165 bhp
Torque: 166 lb.-ft.

Transmission: standard 5-speed manual, optional 4-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
Continuous All Wheel Drive (manual transmission) with viscous coupled locking center differential
Active All Wheel Drive (automatic transmission) with limited slip rear differential and electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch

Suspension: 4-wheel independent, heavy duty raised

Baja's optional bed extender can be combined with its Switchback cargo passthough system to lengthen the bed to 7.5 feet..