The Subaru Baja Turbo Is a Weird, Fast Subaru Truck

The Subaru Baja Turbo Is a Weird, Fast Subaru Truck

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this is a 2006 subaru baja turbo and it's rather strange that's because it's a Subaru that's also a truck that's also a car and it has a turbocharged engine and a manual transmission that's right this is a high-performance manual Subaru car truck and today I'm going to review it I've borrowed this Maha turbo from a
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viewer here in the San Diego area and I'm thrilled that I have because I've always wanted to review one of these largely because this is one of the most bizarre vehicles in modern memory the story goes like this back in the 90s Subaru invented a new market segment with the outback the tall all-wheel drive station wagon and that was so successful that they started looking around for other new market segments to invent so they made a tall all-wheel drive sedan the Outback su s and then
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they decided to make a pickup version and that of course is the Baja now the Baja came out for the 2003 model year and it was only available with all-wheel drive initially you could only get it with a 165 horsepower 4-cylinder but later they started offering it with a turbocharged version of that engine with 210 horsepower and 235 pound feet of torque that doesn't sound like all that much but it was capable of getting this thing from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds which
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makes this a lot quicker than any other pickup truck based on a midsize station wagon of course it's also slower since you know it's the only one anyway the Baja came out back in 2003 the turbo model came out in 2004 and pretty quickly Subaru realized that this wasn't going to be the sales success they were hoping for they pulled the plug on the whole thing after 2006 the car had been on sale for just four years but in the years since the BAA has gained kind of a cult following in the
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subaru community and these days nice used bajas can easily sell between ten and fifteen thousand dollars which is double what you would pay for a used outback from the same era now people have been asking me to do a review on the Baja for years and I haven't done one before because I wanted to hold out for the right one I didn't want an automatic and I didn't want the base engine I wanted to review a manual turbo Baja the Baja holy grail and that's this so today I'm going to review
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this car and I'm going to show you all of the quirks and features of a rather quirky Subaru then I'm gonna get it out on the road and drive it and then I'm going to give it a dug score and for more of my thoughts on the Baja turbo click the link below to visit autotrader.com oversteer where I've also rounded up a list of some of the rarest modern affordable cars currently listed for sale on auto trader now I'm going to start V bajas works and features by discussing its quirkiest feature and that would be the bed
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because you know how often do you see a Subaru with a bed now in basing this vehicle on a station wagon Subaru couldn't exactly make it huge like a lot of pickups which are much longer they had to kind of keep it to normal car proportions because the platform didn't really allow it to stretch all that much so Subaru had to make a choice if they wanted to put in a 5 foot bed they would have had to sacrifice interior space and make it a two-door vehicle or they could have gone for a smaller bed and make a four-door vehicle and that's what they chose to do
03:47
to have a larger interior but the problem is there's only three and a half foot bed back here and that's just nothing in the pickup truck world basically every other truck has at least a 5 foot bed and that gave the baha a huge disadvantage in terms of pickup truck practicality right off the bat but sue had an idea that would remove that disadvantage from the bahá check this out you put down the tailgate and you can see inside the bed there is a fence so
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maybe thinking oh what is this thing do well if you remove a couple of nylon straps keeping the fence in place then you go into the bed the fence swings around and it becomes a bed extender and with the tailgate down and the fence in place you now have a five foot bed just like a lot of other pickup trucks now you might think it's a little odd to have this flopping around but you can use those same nylon straps that kept it in place in the bed to tie down the fence to the tailgate and then it won't
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move around and you can carry larger items back here now the fence wasn't a perfect solution it did have one problem and that the edges are kind of rounded so if you had some large item that would take up an entire pickup truck bed and it was square you still might have a problem getting it in here but it did take care of the big bed practicality issue that baha owners faced if they wanted to use it as an actual pickup truck but in solving that problem Subaru created another and you can easily see it from your angle right now you see in order to use the baha like a
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normal truck with a five foot bed you had to put down the tailgate and you had to put the fence in place and as you can see that means every time you want to do pickup things your license plate isn't showing and that would never fly in any rational jurisdiction so Subaru came up with yet another cool idea if you go on the tailgate that's where the license plate is mounted and you will see these two little plastic buttons on either side if you push them you can fold out the license plate and then when the
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tailgate is down the license plate is facing backwards and it is showing to anyone who's behind you thus negating the problem of you having to put the tailgate down and the license plate not being visible that is some pretty ingenious thinking actually and since we're on the subject of the license plate a little story about this one if you live in California you can tell for those of you who can't this is a commercial license plate in California to be used on pickup trucks and vehicles like that now the owner of this car told me that when he got it it had a
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passenger car license plate which is not allowed on pickup trucks he was driving it along one day and the police pulled him over and they said you can't have a passenger car plate on this truck you have to go and get a truck plate little did the officer know that he was injecting himself into the great debate of what exactly the Baja is it's a car based station wagon so it should have a car plate but it's also a truck so it should have a truck plate what is it exactly a baja about anyway moving back
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to the bed for a few other interesting quirks and features back here I want to go back to the fence for a second which is of course actually called a bed extender and the bed extender was optional you didn't have to get it but most people did get it if they wanted to use their truck for truck things the problem was that if you didn't have it in the extended position it was right in the middle of your bed so you really couldn't carry any larger items back here unless your bed extender was fully extended because otherwise it was basically splitting your bed in half and
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preventing you from carrying anything big back here it was a little bit impractical and you couldn't easily remove it it doesn't just clip right in or out instead taking it out as kind of a cumbersome process that where's tools so it couldn't be done very easily that was the curse of the fence next up another noteworthy item in the bed is this little warning label over on the driver side warning you not to fill up gas cans in the bed of your baja that warning label is actually surprisingly common in pickup trucks not all that unusual the thing I like is this nice little drawing of a baja
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perfect profile of exactly what this car is and not just a generic pickup truck and the other wonderful thing about the bed in this vehicle is that there are bars coming down from the roof and going on to the side of the bed now Subaru said these bars were intended to enhance the structural rigidity in case of a rollover they would provide more support now obviously they could have just stuck those bars in there but Subaru for some reason came up with a name for them they called them sport bars because they added to the sportiness of your Baja
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even though they were just bars in your pickup bed can you imagine being the guy at Subaru who is like I got it we'll name those bars and we'll call them sport bars but I'm not done with the bed just yet even though I have now moved to the back seat and that's because the baja has one more bed related trick up its sleeve check this out you go into the back seat and you fold forward the seat bottom on the back seat then you fold forward the backrest of the backseat and you can see there's a
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little panel here you unclip this panel and you can access the bed and that means you can actually get to the bed from the interior and vice versa there are many ways this could be useful obviously the biggest is for long items if you have something really big that won't even fit in that bed extender you could extend it all the way through the cabin if you want and suddenly you can carry like a 12-foot Pole in your Baja of course there is one other way you can use your interior to bed pass-through
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system [Music] how's easy no coming off me dead on the highway now with that little bed to pass the room into the interior it's worth noting that the rear window is fixed it stays in place so you can't like fold back down or fold it away and have the entire back open up you only have that little pass-through another interesting item is that when you fold the backrest
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for the back seat down you can see there's some netting there I guess the theory there is you can stick something in it when it's down but you could also stick something in it when it's up not really sure why they bothered with that netting but it's there for a little extra storage and obviously when the seat is folded back into place it's a rather hidden storage but anyway moving on from the bed to the interior I'm gonna starting back since I'm already back here one interesting thing about this car that I didn't know until I started filming it today is that all bajas are four Cedars two in the front and two in the back which I find to be interesting because Subaru went to all
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the trouble to make sure it was a four-door car and preserved that interior practicality and then they had to do all sorts of crazy stuff to give it a longer bed and then they didn't give it a middle seat so you don't have five seats in your Baja instead what you have in the middle is this nice little contraption it has a couple of cupholders and then behind that there's this little plastic cargo storage door that opens but then my personal favorite thing is on the backrest you have this netting back here for cargo and it says Baja on it just in case you were
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wondering who provided your cargo netting one other interesting item in the back of the Baja something that was interesting a lot of supers from this era and earlier and that is when you roll down the back window it starts to roll down normally and then it kind of makes a turn and goes down at an angle for a couple of inches did this in order to kind of conform to the shape of the door panel which of course has a cutout for the wheel arch by making that turn that allows the window to roll down a few extra inches that it would if it just went down perfectly straight like
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in most cars now next we move on to the front seats where there are a few interesting items worth noting starting with the sunroof which is just radically small you'll broke the sunroof cover you can see my hand can basically go across the entire thing I guess that's because the behad just doesn't have all that much roof so if you want to actually open the sunroof there's not a place for a large one to go so instead you get a rather small one next up another interesting item in the interior over to the left of the steering wheel there is a little button marked cargo lamp you press that and
12:01
then a little light turns on in the bed to help illuminate the bed if it's nighttime and you're trying to load stuff or unload stuff back there a lot of pickup trucks have that I'm surprised Subaru went through all the thought to put in a cargo lamp and this thing one thing Subaru didn't do though in the gauge cluster there's a little diagram of a car from the top down that shows when you have a door open and you can see that's not a truck it's a car because I mean they weren't gonna make an entire gauge cluster just to change this little door diagram I don't blame them for that one one other item I like
12:32
in the front this car is the floor mats you take a look at them you can see they don't just say Subaru they say Baja which is infinitely cooler because this vehicle is so rare take these floor mats out and put them in an outback and you will instantly have street cred with the Baja community with that said truthfully most of the interior in this car is just pretty straightforward the weirdness is the styling the rarity the bed the front here is pretty much like an Outback or a legacy from this time and Subaru wasn't taking a lot of risks with interiors
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back that now with that said there are some interesting items to be found in the glovebox for instance I have right here the original window sticker and it shows a sticker price of twenty six thousand six hundred and fourteen dollars which is kind of a bargain actually now as you can see appearing in the options list on this window sticker is that bed extender what I call defense back there which was three hundred and thirteen dollars a bargain to give you two extra feet of bed you also have though in the options list a rear
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differential protector that cost 89 bucks to make sure your rear differential wouldn't get smashed up when you took your baja off-roading which no one did another thing I have here that I really like is the Subaru Baja accessories catalog there's some rather interesting and exciting accessories in here for instance the sport activity lights you can mount Zil er e lights on the roof racks and they have little covers that say Baha on them and that actually looks pretty cool I think I would have gotten those now
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the other interesting item in here you have the Baja owner's manual which isn't particularly unusual or quirky but on the very first page you open it to an off-center line drawing of the Baja and written in the corner it says you be F 0 for 6 AAA ah yes the Baja my car good old UBS 0 for 6 AAA how I love seeing you there now next up I want to move on to the outside of the Baja specifically I want to talk about colors now when the Baja first came out
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you know 3 it was two-tone at the time Subaru felt that two-tone signified utility and all of the Outbacks in North America were two-tone so they wanted to do that with the Baja as well now unfortunately their launch color was two-tone yellow with silver on the bottom that was not particularly popular and they eventually dropped it and after a while they just started painting all the Baja models one color like this one which obviously is black now the interesting thing is they kept the cladding on there that was the second color in the two-tone paint scheme so
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when you look at this you can see that it's black and then there's cladding that's also painted black kind of a reminder of how that two-tone experiment didn't really work out now the weirdness of the cladding on the exterior of this car is especially apparent when you get to the fuel door which for some reason bisects the cladding so part of it goes into the cladding and part of it is on the body and none of it really looks all that good now another odd item on the outside of the Baja is the taillight assembly situation and it's odd because you look
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at it you think well this is the brake light the big red piece and then this is the turn signal the white piece above it that's obvious that's how it is on most cars but that's not how it is on the Baja instead the red piece is the brake light and also the turn signal the little white piece above it is actually the reverse light very strange so you have a brake light turn signal combo and then you have the reverse light above I never knew that and all of my years seem bajas in the and knowing this was a quickie vehicle I never knew just how quickly the brake
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light turn signal situation was and next up we move on to the front of the Baja where there are a couple of interesting items worth noting one is the fact that the front end is basically identical to that of the Outback the headlights the hood basically the entire front clip is from the outback and if you looked at this car from dead on the front you may not know that you're looking at the pickup truck version but indeed you are now the other interesting item worth noting is the hood scoop only the baja turbo models have the hood scoop the naturally aspirated regular less
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powerful version just has a flat hood and that's how you can tell apart the high-performance Baja from the normal one and speaking of the high-performance Baja here it is the bajas magical two and a half liter boxer four made 210 horsepower and 235 pound feet of torque it was a very strong engine especially compared to the relatively mediocre 165 horsepower engine in the base model now it's worth noting that even though the WRX at the time of the Baja had about the same horsepower output I think that was
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around 227 horsepower they didn't use the same engine the WRX used a two liter boxer for this used a 2.5 liter boxer for and it shared the turbo version with the Outback turbo and the Subaru Forester XT which is another rather unusual car that Subaru was making in this period and so those are the quirks and features of the quirky Subaru Baja now it's time to get out on the road and drive it alright driving the Baja turbo manual before I
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do fun Baja fact they built the Baja in Indiana because they mostly only sold it in North America and apparently in Chile also we met in a Subaru in South America product planner was like I've got it we'll sell them into a two anyway they built up in Indiana and when it went out of production Subaru had all this excess capacity at the plant you know because they were supposed to be building bajas and I was like well what do we do unfortunately their friends at Toyota had just released a new Camry that year a oh seven and they were having trouble meeting demand so Toyota called up super
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and they said hey can we build some Camrys at your plan and Subaru said yeah we've got all this room and so they did so there were Toyota's built in the subaru baja assembly line in oh seven when this went out of production and I bet you Subaru made more money building Camrys then building their own bonds but anyway let's talk bahan because this is kind of an impressive car I've actually been driving it for quite a while and it's not bad which surprises me because
18:47
I thought it would be that's a 12 year old Subaru 210 horsepower isn't really all that big of a number um but I'm driving this thing around and I'm gearing down and kind of floored it and it has reasonable amounts of power and torque you know zero to 60 time I quoted earlier was seven seconds and I suspect that's with the automatic which was a 4-speed if you're lucky enough to find a manual turbo Baja I think it's quicker than that it certainly feels quicker than that I'm surprised just how much power it has down low but especially how much power
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it has when you actually start to accelerate to the point where I'm starting to think hmm do I need a do I need a truck do I need a car pickup truck all wheel drive wagon based thing the interior is unfortunately really dull you know that's one of the realities of they didn't want to pour too much money into this thing they knew it wasn't going to sell in huge numbers but I thought it was kind of a cool throwback to the brat from the old days of Subaru so they wanted to make it and they made it cool in the back but in the front I mean it looks like I'm sitting inside a 2006 Legacy it's just not all that exciting or interesting
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it has pickup it really goes I mean it's not it's not an m4 you know but it moves faster than you might think the really impressive part is the power between like 3500 to 6000 rpm which is of course true of turbo cars you know they have more power higher in the rev range but I'm actually impressed with this thing I think this is pretty isn't just like quick enough it actually feels surprisingly fun and excitingly fast and you actually don't have to stick all that much throttle in in order to get
20:23
some performance out of it which is nice you don't really have to push too hard to have some fun there's a little bit of play on the shifter the clutch feels fine a little light you know telling a Porsche or BMW transmission but it certainly isn't bad this wasn't an attempt to make a sports car they just threw a kind of a larger engine and a stick shift but they didn't like go crazy with all these sport tuning and suspension and that kind of thing and it doesn't drive particularly sporty or engaging or exciting I tend to think Subarus from this era are a little bit more exciting and kind of more fun
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than standard Toyota Camry that kind of thing and in that sense it is a it has a little bit more feel to it but it's not it's no WRX and so that's the 2006 subaru baja turbo manual the holy grail of the subaru baja world you poke around this thing and it's pretty easy to see why the baja failed I rarely hear people telling me you know I wish I had a car based pickup truck with a small bed but
21:25
I'm glad they made it and I always loved seeing these things around and I always smile when I do and now it's time to give the Baja turbo a dug score starting with the weekend categories and styling the Baja turbo isn't a handsome car or really a very attractive one and it gets a 4 out of 10 acceleration is good I really think it's just under 7 seconds 0 to 60 which would give it a 2 out of 10 handling is fine about average and it gets a 5 out of 10 fun factor is only ok outside of the relatively quick acceleration it's not that much of a thrill even though it's weird and it
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gets a 4 out of 10 cool factor is decent especially for the manual turbo version every car enthusiast has dreamed of owning this at least once and it gets a 5 out of 10 for a total weekend score of 20 out of 50 next up are the daily categories and features this car as mediocre equipment and it gets a 3 out of 10 Comfort is fine and it gets a 5 out of 10 quality is fine the insurers decent enough and these are pretty reliable that we all know about the head gasket thing and it gets a six out of ten practicality is only okay it's all-wheel drive in a truck which helps but the four seats and limited ground clearance hamper things a bit and it gets a six
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out of ten finally value and these are more expensive than you'd think but they're also holding value pretty well and gets a six out of ten for a total daily score of 26 out of 50 add it up in the dug score is 46 out of 100 and I have no idea what to compare this to but here it is up against some other oddball car as I've reviewed plus some other stuff at a similar price point plus some trucks I don't know in this company the baha does pretty well I think there were some bars
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in your bed yeah these are sports bars that is some BS mark oh I gotta say that [Music]

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