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Hyundai And Ford Launch Into The Untapped SAV Market - Subaru Are You Listening?

There is a market for a small pickup, and Hyundai and Ford know it. We hope Subaru is listening, and they offer an all-new 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Baja compact pickup.


Hyundai just launched the all-new Santa Cruz, and Ford brings the new Maverick compact pickup. The Sport Adventure Vehicle (SAV) segment is just waiting to be exploited as it's the perfect blend of pickup and compact SUV. Subaru, are you listening?

If Subaru resurrected the Baja and offered a new compact pickup, it would likely be a big hit with a younger demographic of active customers. Subaru of America discontinued the Baja after the 2006 model year because it had some flaws, and it never sold well. But they could easily fix those problems with a next-generation 2023 Crosstrek-based compact pickup.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek, Crosstrek Wilderness
photo credit: Instagram user good_grief_graffix

The Baja would be about the same size as the popular Crosstrek and ride on the new Subaru Global Platform. It would be bigger than the Subaru Brat, have four doors, like the rendering below, and built in Lafayette, Indiana, alongside its Impreza sibling.

With the Hyundai Santa Cruz and new Ford Maverick paving the way in the Sport Adventure Vehicle segment, the Subaru Crosstrek Baja would fit right in. It could be a hot model for Subaru of America.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek, Crosstrek Wilderness
photo credit: KDesign AG (Kleber Silva)

Hyundai and Ford know there is a need in the U.S. market for a new SAV that will appeal to the "unspoken needs of a new generation of buyers," especially Millennials. Hyundai and Ford will launch into an untapped segment in America; now it's Subaru's turn to leap.

Subaru could do the same and give its U.S. customers a new Crosstrek-based Baja pickup with the subcompact SUVs go-anywhere capabilities. The brand's dual-function X-Mode system would be a perfect fit and would be a big hit with customers with active lifestyles who want to go off-road and get further away.

The all-new Subaru Baja pickup could feature the brand's core values of safety, fun-to-drive, all-weather capable, and a low center-of-gravity. The Baja pickup would be rugged and off-pavement ready.

Imagine an all-new Subaru Crosstrek Baja Wilderness with a 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine producing 260 horsepower. The more rugged Baja Wilderness trim could lead the segment with extra ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and underbody protection for off-road adventures.

It's time for Subaru of America to offer an all-new next-generation 2023 Subaru Crosstrek-based Baja Sport Activity Vehicle for its customers in North America and dive into the untapped compact pickup market. Would you buy a Subaru Crosstrek Baja? Leave your comments below.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru, Hyundai


Tom (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 7:28PM

Baja, maybe...but that BRAT, heck yeah!! C'mon Subaru! And Dodge, how about bringing back the D50? Leave Mitsubishi out of this version and get in on this SAV wave! ;-)

TheMikeReed (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 7:55PM

NOPE. Bed-sizes too small and towing capacity limits make this a non-starter. Take a look at current Honda Ridgeline sales trend for a better understanding. In addition, Subaru can’t provide enough of the current model lineup to satisfy present demand. For every “pickup” built, that’s one less Outback or Ascent coming off the line.

Michael VanNatta (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 8:34PM

I’d be interested in a new Subaru Baja. I’ve had 2 foresters, 2 outback’s and 2 Ascent’s.
How about a Baja based on the Ascent

Del (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 8:41PM

I am already planning on buying a gen 3 Crosstrek Wilderness if it is everything I hope it will be. If they would offer a pick-up version I would definitely opt for that.

craig jasper (not verified)    August 13, 2021 - 10:28PM

I like the idea of the Santa Cruz but haven't ordered one----yet. If I knew that if I waited 6-8 months I could order the Subaru (especially with the turbo) I would wait.

Kailer J Starr (not verified)    August 14, 2021 - 1:37PM

I don’t see how they could fit 4 doors and a big enough truck bed on the crosstrek saying it’s the smallest vehicle Subaru, It would over all be smarter for them to take a new outback and do what they did to the third gen legacy, and Id even think that the forester would be a smarter option than a crosstrek due to its size.

Coomdog (not verified)    August 14, 2021 - 6:34PM

The Baja didn't sell well, the Ridgeline didn't and still dosen't sell well, and the Santa Cruz seems like it may be a flop as well. The Maverick may do well, but it has the advantage of being from Ford with a traditional design and a hybrid powertrain for $20K. I don't think Subaru would be capable of manufacturing a competitive pickup. But I could be wrong.

Sigrid Wolf (not verified)    August 15, 2021 - 12:37AM

I still drive my 2903 Baja on a regular basis. It is the most perfect vehicle for me. But I would love a new one with today's technology and hopefully electric so I can charge it up from solar panels!

Mason Perkins (not verified)    December 13, 2021 - 12:33AM

The Crosstrek would be a better basis for a Brat, and the Outback or Forester for a Baja. Brat as the 2 door model and Baja as the 4, but that's just fantasy. I'd love to see any Subaru truck, but with stock prices barely treading water, Subaru would be risking a lot to add a truck. Struggling companies play it safe.