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The Subaru Baja ST-X - The New Turbo Pickup You Would Buy Right Now

Do you remember the Subaru Baja ST-X pickup? The compact pickup was a concept, but it could be the blueprint Subaru needs for a pickup today.

If you remember the 1999 Subaru Baja ST-X pickup, you were probably at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Subaru Baja ST-X was a concept vehicle that never made it to production. Subaru did build the Baja in late August of 2002 as a 2003 model, but it was a watered-down version of the Baja ST-X pickup. If Subaru resurrected the Baja ST-X turbo pickup, you would buy it now.

The Baja ST-X concept had a turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine, whereas the Baja had a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine. What else set the four-door Baja ST-X (Subaru Truck Xperimental) apart was its extendable cargo bed with a switchback design. It also sported a Solar Flare Orange paint.

2023 Subaru Baja compact pickup

The Switchback design

The Baja ST-X had a rear seat that folded forward, and a large rear window opened to the bed of the compact truck. The retractable rear window would slide into and out of a top portion of the rear seatback when the seat was in an upright position. There was also a hinged door between the back end of the passenger cab and the cargo bed.

2023 Subaru Baja compact pickup

Imagine a new 2023 Subaru Baja ST-X with a similar design, based on the 2022 Crosstrek compact SUV powered by an FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine. The 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer would come mated to a close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional Subaru Performance Transmission (CVT) offered in the 2022 WRX.

The 2023 Subaru Baja ST-X would also come with extra ground clearance and dual-function X-Mode for off-road pursuits. The interior would have solar flare orange trim on the seats, dash, and center console like the concept pickup at the LA Auto Show in 2000.

2023 Subaru Baja compact pickup

In 2000, Subaru of America pitched the Baja ST-X concept as "the ultimate expression of the Subaru brand essence; fun, freedom, adventure, confidence, and control."

The 2023 Subaru Baja ST-X would likely be a big hit with compact pickup and adventure enthusiasts. The 1999 Subaru Baja ST-X pickup was ahead of its time, but it's now time for Subaru to bring it back.

Would you buy a 2023 Subaru Baja ST-X compact pickup base on the 2022 Crosstrek if Subaru of America offered it this year?

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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 USA


Maureen sullivan (not verified)    January 28, 2022 - 11:15AM

In reply to by Rebecca Balent (not verified)

I would definitely buy a subaru baja st-x pickup i need 4 dr.
Been waiting a long time. Best safety features a vehicle could offer. It has the power to pull a toyota 4x4 hanging on an edge of a mt. My baja and i were amazed. I'm ready for more power. Mohilo13

Captain Awesome (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 5:54AM

The Baja was offered with a 2.5 turbo it was the Baja xt . Same 2.5 l turbo motor found in the Forester XT , legacy gt and outback xt .

Tim (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 7:11AM

I'm pretty sure the original Subaru concept was supercharged not turbocharged. The Baja was awesome later, starting in 2004, with a turbocharged 2.5.

Tim (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 7:21AM

I'm pretty sure the original Subaru concept was supercharged not turbocharged. The Baja was awesome later, starting in 2004, with a turbocharged 2.5.

Josh (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 10:07AM

Subaru needs to enter the pickup truck market. I've been saying that for years! I would rather see it built off the Legacy/Outback chassis, like the Ascent.

Cooper (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 10:14AM

Maybe, love Subarus but would need to assess vehicle at an auto show. Also, not keen on the color choice. Really would prefer a unibody truck.

Matt (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 11:07AM

I would consider it, but I would prefer it built off of the Ascent base. The best option for me would be a pickup with 5 seats and a 5-6ft bed (basically an Ascent with a pickup body).

Rebecca (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 1:21PM

Yeah how much would i be out of pocket per month...On the ST-X Subaru 2023...Pickup. and how much down...Do you have any pickups now...?

Jonathan Mejia (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 1:40PM

The Baja came in a turbo model also. Do your research before you guys write articles. SMMFH

Andi (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 1:44PM

100% Yes. I still own *and drive* my 03 manual transmission baja. Use the Forester chasis and offer upgraded higher horsepower option with a manual transmission engine. Done. Sign me up.

Lionel Baldwin (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 10:16PM

In reply to by Andi (not verified)

Own '06 Baja 2.5 manual transmission. No turbo. 227000 miles. Still great small truck. Noted loss of power but awesome vehicle for WV secondary roads and more. Definitely would buy... Aside from abs system couldn't ask for better vehicle.

Scott Florek (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 2:55PM

You said they didn't build a turbo Baja. but they did. for 2 years. the Manual trans was an option. It was made from 2005-2006. The NA version existed for 4 years. Manual transmission versions are incredibly rare.

Tim (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 7:52PM

I have driven Outback ,Forster,also own a 2005 Baja. I have Owned the Dodge Rampage also. I like the unibody they are grate to drive . I like the Bajas low bed is easy to load and unload (just picked up a small chest freezer, nice). It could have a little more ground clearance. The four doors our nice but also like the two doors with a small cargo space behind.

Mark (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 12:03AM

I would buy it today if they would offer the 6 cylinder instead of these weak 4 cylinder and weak turbo 4 cylinder!!

Gulo (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 9:52AM

Subaru should offer 2 unibody crewcab AWD pickups, IMO...An economy model, based on the 2.5L Crosstrek, with 1500-2000lb towing capacity, and a 2.4T or 6cyl model based on the bigger wagons, with 3500lb+ towing capacity. Preferably, the larger pickup would be like a Ridgeline, with 5000-6000lb towing capacity.

The Subaru AWD and VSC systems are already pretty good, and the aftermarket already offers rear diff-lockers, winchmounts, skids, rockers, rooftop carriers, spare carriers, suspensions, power upgrades, offroad/winter tires, etc.

Priced like the Crosstrek and Outback, they'd probably sell well, and mfrig costs would be minimal if they used existing parts. The unibody Baja was ahead of its time, IMO.

My Crosstrek has been an awesome all-weather econocommuter, and it's just another plus that I can also use it for legal offroad/overland weekends, while still getting 40+MPG on my 50mile commute. Just use stock-sized AT Trails, and take off the rooftop stuff and multi-mount winch, during the week. Even so, siped mudders on 15" rims swap pretty quick and easy for weekend fun if you have a cordless impact and 2 good jacks or a lift.

Orlita (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 12:15PM

I had a 2006 Baja and absolutely loved it. Years ago my father had a Subaru brat which was similar and that was a lot of fun. I would buy a Subaru Baja in a second. I would also love to see Subaru come out with a small or a mid-size truck in general. I've owned three Subarus they're great cars.

Lisa (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 5:10PM

Loved my 03 baja. Unfortunately I had to sell it, hard times, but I would so love to get another. I really miss that truck.

Judith A. Shirk (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 7:55PM

At 84 years young..I still have a 2003 Baja ...over 160,000 mi.! Marron & Silver! Don't think at my age "orange" would be my taste! I would consider a " new Baja " if better choice of colors! It's still the "sexyist " vehicle I've ever owned !

Judith A. Shirk (not verified)    January 26, 2022 - 7:57PM

At 84 years young..I still have a 2003 Baja ...over 160,000 mi.! Marron & Silver! Don't think at my age "orange" would be my taste! I would consider a " new Baja " if better choice of colors! It's still the "sexyist " vehicle I've ever owned !