2006 Subaru Baja Turbo AWD Pickup by Stu Wright

SAM_3723The Subaru Baja, available from model years 2003 through 2006, is an all-wheel drive, four passenger, four door pickup with Symmetrical all-wheel drive.  They were manufactured in Subaru’s Lafayette, Indiana factory.  I recently borrowed one from Greeley (CO) Subaru for a few days and spent quite a bit of time in it with my family.  I have a family of five, so fortunately one member was busy at doggie obedience school for the day and the rest of us enjoyed some time together at Cherry Creek shopping center.

The test Baja was painted Brilliant Silver metallic and featured a gray leather interior.  The styling is slightly offbeat, and intended as such.  Silver cladding is in abundance on the side of the Baja, a black luggage rack (with cross bars) is on top, chrome roll bars protrude from the cab-back, and five spoke gray alloy wheels are present and shod with Kumho P225/60R16 Solus KRZ mud and snow tires.  The hood has a scoop to supply air to the 2.5 liter “boxer” four-cylinder engine with 210 horsepower (@5,600 rpm) and 235 lb. ft. of torque (@3,600 rpm).  Fuel economy ratings for the 2006 Baja are 18 mpg-city, 23 mpg-highway, and premium unleaded gasoline is recommended.

A four-speed automatic transmission backs up the turbo engine, and utilizes an electronically controlled variable transfer clutch in conjunction with a planetary-type center differential. Torque distribution is normally configured at a performance-oriented rear-wheel-biased 45/55-split front-to-rear, and sensors monitor parameters such as wheel slippage, throttle position and braking to help determine torque distribution to the wheels with optimum traction.  All of this (called variable torque distribution) made the Baja a good choice to be driving around in the wintery February weather, and ride, road noise, and handling were all acceptable for such a versatile mode of transportation.

Overall length of the Baja is 193.3″, width is 70.1″, height is 65.1″ including the roof rack, and it is all set on a wheelbase of 104.3″, which is 4″ shorter than Subaru’s Outback.  The cargo bed is 41.5″ long and 49″ wide (10″ less between wheel wells), and the Baja weighs 3,735 lbs.  A cargo “trap” that flips rearward is in the bed so that it can be deployed out onto the tailgate for extra room to carry bikes, exercise equipment, or appliances.  With the tailgate flopped down, interestingly, the license plate bracket folds out (down) for visibility from the rear.  Pretty ingenious, I thought.SAM_3730

In the Baja turbo an owner gets an 80-watt stereo audio system with six-disc CD changer (how quaint), keyless entry, heated bucket seats, manually adjustable climate control, cruise control, power windows, moon roof and sport shift manual transmission control.  Passengers actually stay quite comfortable traveling in the little pickup and the weekend I spent with it was pretty enjoyable.

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