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2006 Subaru Baja

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2006 Subaru Baja Review

A unique blend of car and pickup with some functionality lost in the middle.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The Subaru Baja is a truly unique vehicle in appearance and overall design. Best classified as a car-based crew-cab pickup, the Baja is structured after the 2000-2004 Subaru Outback, and is essentially a cross between an SUV and a truck. With its shortened, pickup-style cargo box, and comfortable cabin, the Subaru Baja is intended for those who want the utility of a truck but without the poor gas mileage and rough ride that usually come with it.

As an abbreviated mix of other body types, the Subaru Baja may seem to lose some of the benefits of each of its two ""parent"" vehicles. And even with the addition of a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine in 2005, this vehicle isn’t winning any prizes for either performance or towing muscle. However, the Baja does include some functions to increase its usefulness. The cargo bed’s ""Switchback"" feature allows it to be extended; the front of the bed as well as the rear seat folds forward into the cabin for increased bed length.

At the end of the day, the 2006 Subaru Baja is more of a stylish lifestyle expression than a serious working vehicle. Its appeal is mostly limited to those who spend more time hauling sports equipment or small loads from the hardware store, than those with a full troop of kids or a long list of supplies for a serious construction project.

The Range

Body Styles: crew-cab pickup
Engines: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Subaru Baja Sport, Subaru Baja Turbo

What's New

2006 brings no noteworthy changes to the Subaru Baja.

Exterior

The 2006 Subaru Baja truly stands out on the road with the Chevy El Camino being is closest sibling in terms of looks. The four-door Baja is offered in two trim levels: the Baja Sport and the Baja Turbo. Both models share the same dimensions and overall appearance. Standard exterior features for both the Sport and the Turbo include fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, and privacy glass. Additional options range from electrochromic mirrors to a skid plate and mud guards. Other functional offerings include a tubular bed extender, a bed-mounted bike rack, a sunroof, and roof-mounted rally lights.

Interior

While the interior of the 2006 Subaru Baja may not have as much to offer in the way of luxury, its handsome cabin still earns high points for overall comfort, style, and practicality. Standard interior features for the base Sport model include vinyl and cloth seats, one-touch power mirrors, and a four-speaker stereo with CD player. The Baja Turbo offers a wider range of standard conveniences, including a CD changer, six speakers, and optional heated and leather seats. A tire pressure monitor, subwoofer, cargo area cover, and cargo net are optional for both trim levels.

The Baja’s functionality as a hauling vehicle is increased with the Switchback feature, which allows you to fold down the back seats to extend the length of the cargo box from 41.5 to 60 inches. However, the rear window cannot be raised or removed, which restricts a consumer's load to a certain height and shape. The bed length can also be increased to 75 inches with the optional tailgate extender.

Performance & Handling

The Baja Sport is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 165 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, while the Turbo carries a turbocharged version capable of producing 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. When equipped with the optional automatic transmission, the Baja Turbo also offers an automanual gate for an easy transfer to manual shifting. The 2006 Baja comes equipped with all-wheel drive, as do all Subaru vehicles. It can haul up to 1050 pounds with a towing capacity of 2400 pounds, which is about half of what a standard compact truck can handle.

The base engine’s acceleration isn’t anything to brag about, and most serious drivers will want to consider opting for the higher-powered Baja Turbo model. Its fully independent suspension gives it a car-like feel and handling, which will be comfortable for drivers who aren’t used to handling a truck. The Subaru Baja has modest off-roading abilities, though it’s more than sufficient for getting a driver and their equipment to and from the hardware store or mountain-biking trail without any trouble.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the 2006 Baja includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, front seatbelt load limiters, child safety door locks, and a vehicle anti-theft system. No side airbags or rear airbags are available. Neither the Baja Sport nor the Turbo model has been crash tested by the NHTSA or IIHS.

EPA Fuel Economy

Subaru Baja Sport: 20/26 mpg city/highway
Subaru Baja Turbo: 17/23 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Stand-out appearance
  • Convenient open bed
  • Stable handling and performance
  • Comfortable ride

You Won't Like

  • Modest towing and hauling abilities
  • Midgate glass can’t be removed
  • No side airbags

Sum Up

A unique blend of car and pickup with some functionality lost in the middle.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Subaru Outback
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