Used 2003 Subaru Baja
Used 2003 Subaru Baja for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
An interesting car-and-pickup blend that comes up a bit short in outright functionality.
In automotive-speak, the term crossover has tended to apply primarily to vehicles that blend positive SUV attributes with passenger-car handling and comfort. It makes sense that manufacturers would try to find a new way of packaging SUV-style functionality; the Ford Explorer was, after all, the third best-selling vehicle last year. But the two top-selling vehicles in the nation last year were pickups (the Ford F-Series and the Chevy Silverado, numbers 1 and 2, respectively), which begs the question: Are pickups next in line to be bitten by the crossover bug? Those with their ear to the ground know that vehicles such as the Chevy Avalanche (which mates a Suburban's passenger room with a covered, expandable pickup bed) have already illustrated that the answer to this question is yes. Now Subaru gives us its spry Baja, which, the company claims, blends pickup-truck ruggedness with the responsive handling and ride comfort of a passenger car.
Subaru has covered similar territory before. The manufacturer touts its Outback wagon as the first sport-utility wagon, and indeed, the vehicle part SUV and part passenger car played a part in initiating the current crossover trend.
The Baja is based on the Legacy platform. The front fascia is strikingly similar to the Outback's; both are dominated by a prominent bumper with integrated foglights and feature Subaru-style angled headlamps. The two vehicles also share large foldable body-color mirrors, pumped-up front fenders and pervasive lower-body cladding. The Baja does, however, feature exclusive Silver Stone-hued cladding, and a Silver Stone monochromatic model with matching body and bumper color is available.
Lead an outdoorsy, go-anywhere, do-anything sort of lifestyle? If you do, you'll find that the Baja was designed with your needs in mind. Its pickup bed is expandable (it may be lengthened to nearly 7.5 feet); Subaru's "Switchback" panel allows for the reconfiguration of the rear seating area and cargo bed, granting a high level of versatility in the transportation of both people and cargo. An integrated bed liner minimizes wear and tear and simplifies cleaning; bed sport bars, a bed light and four tie-down hooks serve to enhance functionality further. Roof rails and crossbars are standard, and attachments for skis, kayaks and snowboards will be available.
Since it's a crossover, the Baja's free-spirited, adventurous nature doesn't compromise comfort, according to Subaru. The Baja easily seats four, and a bevy of standard features is offered, including a keyless entry system; perforated leather-trimmed upholstery; power windows, mirrors and door locks; and a six-way power driver seat.
The Baja is powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine (the same as is found in the Outback) that generates 165 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque; Subaru boasts that the engine offers a winning blend of performance and fuel efficiency. Two types of Subaru All-Wheel-Drive technology are offered. The standard five-speed manual tranny comes equipped with Continuous All-Wheel Drive, which utilizes a viscous coupling center differential. The four-speed automatic tranny features Active All-Wheel Drive, which uses an electronically managed variable transfer clutch.
Versatility is a top priority for many consumers, and the Baja seems to be designed to satisfy that requirement easily. So, for all you kayakers/snowboarders/camping enthusiasts: This one could be for you.
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You're the kind of person who carries a Leatherman tool in your pocket because you never know when you'll need a screwdriver, a pocket knife or both. You stash a combination generator/flashlight in your trunk because anything could come up, or break down. Subaru is bringing the all-new 2003 Baja to market for the same reason you pocket that Leatherman every day because when you climb behind the wheel every morning, you'll always have the right kind of tool for whatever the day will bring.
The 2003 Baja is both a car and a pickup truck. Based on the Subaru Outback/Legacy wagon, the Baja shares the same 104.3-inch wheelbase, but is 6 inches longer than the Outback wagon in rear overhang. The Baja has seating accommodations for four fullsize adults, with rear seat legroom measuring just under an inch shorter than the Outback wagon's rear seating area. But instead of a conventional trunk or the glassed-in storage box of a wagon, the Baja substitutes the cargo box of a pickup truck.
Many four-door utility vehicles like this have come on the market over the last three years. Trouble is, all of them are based on pickup trucks. The Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Ford Explorer SportTrac, Ford F-150 Super Crew, Nissan Frontier CrewCab and Toyota Tacoma Double Cab look like trucks, drive like trucks, and park like trucks. Only the Baja offers this combination of four-door passenger space, pickup-truck utility, and the practicality and refinement of a car platform.
During a lifestyle presentation, Subaru showed us what the Baja could do. Although the cargo box only measures 17.7 cubic feet compared to the 29.6 cubic feet cargo box of the SportTrac, it still provides a quality bed with ample cargo space. It's finished with an integrated plastic bedliner and carries two tie-down hooks on each side. There's a conventional pickup truck tailgate that's lockable. The 3,485-pound Baja can carry a maximum payload of 1,050 pounds and can easily accommodate two mountain bikes (with their front wheels dismounted), a passel of surfboards or a bunch of miscellaneous outdoor gear. The Baja also has a 2,400-pound towing capacity, so it'll easily pull a personal watercraft or a couple of motorcycles.
Should you think that the Baja is just a 2003 remake of the Chevy El Camino, Subaru has added some features that make the cargo box even more useful. First, the Baja's cargo bed can be extended by using the "Switchback" midgate feature, similar to the design found on the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Chevrolet Avalanche. A trap-door behind the rear seatbacks folds forward into the rear seating area, expanding the usable length of the bed from 41.5 to 60 inches. You just flip up the bottom cushion of the rear seat, fold the rear seatback forward and fold the trap door flat into the rear seat. It's such an easy process, you'll probably use this feature more often than you expect. If you need a longer cargo bed, Subaru provides an optional tailgate extender that increases the length of the cargo area to 75 inches. While the Baja Switchback system has a fixed glass window, and not the retractable rear window seen in the Subaru ST-X concept vehicle, it nevertheless adds a functional amount of cargo area with a minimal hassle factor.
Under the Baja's hood lies the same horizontally opposed SOHC 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine featured in the Legacy/Outback, Forester and Impreza. It delivers 165 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Although Subaru introduced a 212-hp 3.0-liter six-cylinder version of this engine for the 2001 Outback wagon (which the Outback sedan also received in 2002), it appears that Subaru has decided to limit the engine power during the initial vehicle launch. While we feel that the four-cylinder engine provides adequate power for piloting the Baja down to the shoreline or along dirt roads, we're sure company personnel will soon tire of hearing the chant of "more power" from many Subaru enthusiasts, and we expect that the Baja will soon benefit from one of Subaru's more powerful engines.
All Subaru vehicles sold in the United States come with standard all-wheel drive, and the Baja is no exception. Each available transmission is coupled with a different all-wheel-drive system continuous all-wheel drive with a viscous coupling center differential for the five-speed manual transmission, and active all-wheel drive which uses an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch for the four-speed automatic. The boxer engine and all-wheel drive system provide a low center of gravity, and combined with the four-wheel independent suspension, makes for a good-handling vehicle, so the Baja drives like a car, not a truck. It's maneuverable in town, and small enough to navigate city garages, park at the dry cleaners or your local 7-Eleven. Although, if you're planning to take the Baja off-road, you should note that its 7.3 inches of ground clearance is less than the 7.9 inches for the Outback and 7.5 inches for the Forester.
The Baja takes most of its styling cues from the Outback. Only the grille and alloy wheels are exclusive to the Baja. There are just four color schemes: Regatta Red Pearl, Black Granite Pearl and Baja Yellow versions are all coupled with so much silver-colored body cladding that the Baja begins to resemble a down-sized Chevy Avalanche (and we don't mean that in a good way), while our choice would be the only monotone option in Silverstone Metallic, because the body cladding isn't so conspicuous.
We got to see the Switchback in action, plus notice the swing-down rear license plate bracket (one of the few ST-X features that made it to the production Baja) that keeps the license plate visible, even when the tailgate is lowered. We enjoyed its standard amenities, including air conditioning, six-way power driver seat, perforated leather-trimmed upholstery and a power moonroof. With this impressive list of equipment, few additional selections are necessary. Once you decide between the standard manual and the optional automatic transmissions, you've nearly completed your vehicle order. Currently, options are limited to sport activity lights, a bed extender, rubber floormats, six-disc in-dash changer, rear seat storage nets and a cargo net in the bed. Subaru tells us that additional accessories are still in development and will include a Subaru bike rack and a lockable hard tonneau bed cover from an aftermarket supplier.
The big advantage is that the Baja is not a fullsize truck. It has great utility and a spirit of adventure. It can be used by growing families Saturday trips to Home Depot as you fix up the new house, Sunday adventures to the lake or the forest. But during the week, you can drive it to work without hassle. It's comfortable and easy to use. It's just what real people want from a sport-utility vehicle. Anyone who packs a Leatherman in the glovebox will understand perfectly.
Used 2003 Subaru Baja Overview
The Used 2003 Subaru Baja is offered in the following submodels: Baja Crew Cab. Available styles include AWD 4dr Crew Cab (2.5L 4cyl 4A), AWD 4dr Crew Cab (2.5L 4cyl 5M), Sport AWD 4dr Crew Cab (2.5L 4cyl 4A), and Sport AWD 4dr Crew Cab (2.5L 4cyl 5M).
What's a good price on a Used 2003 Subaru Baja?
Price comparisons for Used 2003 Subaru Baja trim styles:
- The Used 2003 Subaru Baja Sport is priced between $3,300 and$3,300 with odometer readings between 139220 and139220 miles.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Subaru Baja?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.