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2003 Baja, 2006 Baja, 2008 Impreza
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I think a Subaru truck would find a place in the market. I currently drIve a Frontier and as I age I find fewer needs for a mid sized pickup, but still want an open bed for yard waste, stinky trash, and hauling bulky things that won’t fit in a hatchback. Subaru’s reliable AWD would be attractive. Perhaps beef up the tires and suspension to emphasize off-road capabilities and size it just under the current mid size pickups on the market. Give it power to tow smaller boats or campers. Might actually create a “new” market slot.
I've already towed a wrecked stick shift Baja home on a car dolly. Was not stopped by the cops.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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A new Baja (properly done) would be a seller.

For the comments about how it would not be useful - that's all about beauty in the eye of the beholder....

The original Baja (based on the ever-present Legacy Outback wagon (or maybe the sedan, who knows) is perfectly useful. Just like the new Santa Cruz (above) is going to be useful.

Most people who buy pick ups today (not tradesmen or construction or the like) do not buy a pick up because they plan to haul a bunch of stuff around. They buy them because they COULD haul a bunch of stuff around. They go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy a couple of bags of dirt, some rocks, some plants and do a project in the garden. They sometimes go out garage-sale-hunting or "antiquing" and buy something that would not fit in the back of the wagon, SUV, whatever.

A Baja would be perfect for that...

Years ago (before my Forester, driving my Mazda 3 hatch) I bought a couple of small fruit trees for my yard. Had to have them hanging out the back liftgate and tied in. The Baja would have been perfect. Years later, when I was buying some concrete pavers for another garden project, the back of my Forester got a bit scratched up from the pavers sliding around. A Baja type would have been perfect.

But there are also those downsides... When I go on a road trip someplace with a passenger and the dogs in the back seat, I can have my luggage and whatever in the cargo area of the Forester, out of reach and somewhat out of sight... In a Baja type vehicle? not so much without some type of cap or a cargo/bed cover.

The Baja would not be conceived to compete against a "real" truck (like a Ranger or Colorado or ____) but be a niche market player, just as the original BRAT and Baja were. While the Ridgeline is trying hard to compete with the Ranger and Colorado (and Tacoma and Frontier) pick ups of the world, it's also stealing a bit from the Honda Pilot sales..

It could and WOULD be a great niche player for Subaru, just as the Santa Cruz will do well for Hyundai, bringing back a niche that Subaru rightly invented all those years ago with the BRAT...

There have been more than a few renderings out there of a new Baja - based on the Ascent mostly.
 

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2020 CBS Forester Sport
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103 Posts
Given the insatiable appetite the U.S. has for trucks (and nostalgia) do you think an updated Baja would sell well today?
Hyundai is gonna find out for us
 
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2020 Subaru Forester premium
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Id like to see some company, ANY company do a small truck right..something the size of a Tacoma,Frontier,Ranger with a near regular or regular BED on it not some stubby useless little after thought bed you cant even fit a bike in barely.. Yet get or shoot for the 30MPG mark....it doesnt have to tow a ton..they have other trucks for that..it doesnt need a long bed option..again there are other trucks for that....Im NOT talking about a max performance trailer hauler for max amount of HP and torque and horrible gearing which is what gives "normal" trucks such horrendous MPG.

This would a a truck that has a usable standard size bed for a smaller truck like the ones listed(Ranger/Tacoma.etc,etc) no little mini useless Bratt or Baja size bed been there and those beds suck even with the extender Bed needs to be between on in the range of the Tacoma/Ranger and Ridgeline size to be useful. Then have it be able to tow a SMALL trailer a feather weight or teardrop, nothing more...basically lets say what a Ascent can haul already....This would be for people like me..that want the convenience of a Truck with a truck bed so the inside of your SUV doesnt get all messed up carrying grass clippings, sticks and branches and brush from spring cleanup, bikes, dirt bikes, towing a small boat or a small trailer with 1 or 2 motorcycles or snowmobiles on it..when you hunt and get a deer i dont want that mess all over the back of my Forester..but in the bed of a Ascent based truck..its a GO! This would also get as near as possible to 30 MPG...its not for MAX hauling,Torque,HP and horrid gearing its for people that dont need that but would like all the other options i said...I bet there are a lot more than car companies thing there are...

No I 100% DO NOT want another Baja/BRATT...beds on those are next to useless. Yes I do want a small truck that gets 30 MPG highway with a STANDARD size small truck bed I can actually use if I wanted to.

Ive had a Tacoma and a Frontier both extended cab models...LOVED the truck HATED 20 MPG highway and 15 mixed..loved the size, the bed capacity..I also had a friend that had the Baja and the bed was almost always useless unless you just wanted to toss something small in back I want a Tacoma/Frontier that gets 30 MPG
 

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Future 2022 Touring Owner (XT? 🤞)
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OK, so to help the conversation let's define a few things here.
  • Size - Just like SUVs, there are really 3 distinct sizes for trucks.
    • Full Size - Includes the Tundra, F-150, and Sierra
    • Mid Size - Includes the Tacoma, Ranger, Colorado, and Ridgeline
    • Small/Compact - No current vehicles on the market. Would include upcoming vehicles like the Santa Cruz and Maverick. The old Baja and Brat would also be considered part of this size. This market is effectively dead right now as there are no current entries. Vehicles that used to fill it either stopped production or grew to the mid-size market (Ranger and Colorado).
  • Build Type - Body on frame vs Unibody
    • Body on Frame - This handles loads better like towing and cargo capacity, but it sacrifices ride quality and interior noise. Almost all trucks currently on the market are body on frame.
    • Unibody - Slightly less towing and cargo potential, but better ride quality and interior noise. Also opens doors for interesting design creativity like under the bed cargo space.
  • Roof Height
    • SUV style height - All current trucks
    • Car/Wagon style height - Think older vehicles like the Baja, Brat, or even the El Camino
Car/Wagon Style Trucks

Though these were popular in past years, I think the market is effectively dead for anything like this now. High ride style SUVs are the market and that doesn't seem to be changing. I'm honestly surprised the Outback has stayed as popular as it has. If they made a taller version of the Outback that was more akin to a 2-row mid-size SUV I think it would dramatically eat into Outback sales.

Anyway, this is what the Baja and the Brat were and I just don't see Subaru reviving either in that form. The market for it just isn't there. Honestly I think the same for anything without a back seat (brat). I only see that being viable for something that is a true work vehicle.

Unibody Trucks

For years the Ridgeline has been the only unibody truck on the market. I really feel this market is primed to take off and it seems manufactures agree as both Hyundai (Santa Cruz) and Ford (Maverick) are about to release unibody trucks. They really offer a TON of advantages over traditional trucks for those who don't need the extreme capabilities that most all trucks currently offer. Specifically, this is what desk jobbers who want a truck should be buying IMHO. As we start to get more options I think the advantages will really become apparent to buyers and the unibody (not a real truck) hate will fade. It should pull from buyers who both currently drive SUVs and buyers who drive body-on-frame trucks but don't really need the capability.

Small/Compact Truck Revival

As mentioned earlier, the upcoming Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick are both small/compact trucks. If successful, they will be effectively reviving a dead market. I expect that this segment will be dominated by (if not exclusive to) Unibody vehicles just like the SUV market is. As it grows, we will probably also see more unibody mid-size trucks.

Where is Subaru in all this?

Right now the answer is nowhere. As far as I'm aware there is literally nothing from Subaru concerning building any form of truck. Not even off-hand comments from executives. Though they would seem ideal for entry into the market, publicly they are focused on other things (EVs and Wilderness Trims). If the did enter it, there are a few possibilities.

As I believe the car/wagon style trucks are dead, this would be based on a taller SUV. For a small size truck that would either be based on the Forester (like the Santa Cruz is based on the Tuscon and the Maverick the Bronco Sport) or the Outback. For the later it would require much more work as the Outback is still basically a wagon I can't see them doing that without first creating an Outback based mid-size 2-row SUV. Also, the Forester just doesn't seem quite right for this push (just my humble opinion).

What seems like the best option to me is to forgo the small size market and go straight after the mid-size. The Ascent was a true 3-row SUV developed from scratch and it would seem wasteful not to get anything else out of it. replicating Honda's Pilot/Ridgeline model seems primed for major success.

Another thing to keep in mind is there are still protectionist laws in-place that require Trucks sold in the US to be built in the US. That seems like it would be much easier to do with an Ascent based truck as it is already built at the Indiana plant. All these things considered, this seems to be Subaru's easiest path to truck sales success. If I had to wager how Subaru would be most likely to re-enter the market this would be it.
 

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zachavm
Hard to argue with most of your post, but I think you're off the mark with the comment about small size, which is what I actually want.
In my case, the Baja was perfect for my needs. I owned two of them.

Good mileage, comfortable drive, excellent AWD, and with the pass through gate into the cabin and a bed extender, it was incredibly versatile.
I can't recall a task that the car couldn't do, including zipping around land barges in parking lots.

As far as Subaru getting into the TUV (Truckette Utility Vehicle) market, I doubt we will see an entry anytime soon, regardless of it's basis.
I would not be interested in your "recommended" Ascent based vehicle myself, and for Subaru, that would mean entry into a market that already has some successful existing options Therefore, I don't see it happening anytime soon or perhaps even ever, for that matter.

Hyundai has been working on their entry for 6 years, and a new vehicle design doesn't happen overnight.
I for one, am unlikely to wait for a Subaru TUV, and I suspect I won't be the only one.

We'll get to see how popular the small TUV idea is soon as the Santa Cruz will be in showrooms in a few months.
I'll definitely be test driving one, and I think it likely many former Baja owners will be checking it out as well.
 

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I think @DragonSubie7 has it right - at least for his needs. And the needs of a few others... And yes, @zachavm , there are some mighty players in your list and many of them have gone away as needs change.

As mentioned, if there was a small SUV based trucklet on the market, there will be a boon of buyers... And there is a lot of precedence for this - beyond the BRAT and the Baja... Remember the Dodge Omni (Rampage) from the 80s? The VW Rabbit pick up (also 80s)? These were smaller car based pick-up trucks for buyers that did not want a traditional (body on frame, RWD truck)... They didn't want a Nissan (Datsun) or Toyota pick-up (before they had names like Frontier and Tacoma), they didn't want the Chevy S10 or GMC twin, didn't want the Mitsubishi pick up, either. I remember looking at trucks like that in the early 80s and wanting car-like features (like power windows, cruise control, etc.) and was told "ha! that will never happen!"...

The Ranger, Tacoma, Frontier, the GM twins; they're no longer small trucks. Hell, the GM twins are just a bit shy of their big-bruiser full size uncles... The market still needs a small truck. @CBennett69 is a prime candidate. Could the big players come up with a smaller truck that gets good mileage - eh, maybe? They certainly have improved in the MPG ratings lately. But most of those medium (and full size) trucks have some basic flaws in the design that hurt mileage - like the boxy, blocky shape and the open rear bed (huge fuel sucker).

IMHO, the majority of the truck market now are those that still kind of view the SUV as the newest version of the mom-wagon or the mini-van and the small and mid-sized SUVs have taken market share from the minivan and wagon markets. That's one of the reasons Subaru has kept the Outback more along the SUV type line - making it more rugged and tougher - and dropped the Legacy wagon that it was always based upon.

The concept of the SUV-ized Outback already kind of exists - it's what many of us drive - the Forester. A taller-roofed Outback would not fit well in the line, as it would cannibalize from Forester and Outback sales.

The small trucklet market has demand - or Hyundai would not be bringing the Santa Cruz to the market. There are many of us out here who currently drive an SUV and would be very interested in something like that. Will I trade my Forester for a Santa Cruz? Probably not. I mean, it's a Hyundai. But it is a very interesting concept and is at least worth a look... But I must say the front end of the Santa Cruz is not anything I'm liking...

The Baja was (and is) an "in-demand" vehicle. Did interest in it die out? Yes. Much like interest in the XT Foresters. Could it be something that could come back and find market share? Well, that all depends on how well the Santa Cruz does.

Frankly, Subaru needs to go back to the concept of the 'niche' market, something that their semi-partner Toyota has (or had) been doing for years. Toyota has a vehicle for pretty much every small niche market out there (the entire Scion brand, the FJ Land Cruiser retro rig, others) and has at least tried to fill those gaps - as well as having their huge main-stream market grabbers (Camry, Corolla, Tacoma, 4Runner).

I've looked at the Ascent and - for me - it's a no-go. It is too big (for my needs) and I'm not a fan. Would a Forester or Outback based trucklet work for me? Yeah, it just might, as long as it had the Pleiades star cluster on the grill.
 

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VW has done a few different styling studies for a small pick up - I think that they do offer in other countries an Agnorak (not sure if that's the right name..?) Amorak. It's a traditional style truck )body on frame) and has been sold in other markets. The apparent replacement is scheduled to be on the Ford Ranger (world) platform.
 

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To be clear, I was only saying the car/wagon small truck market is dead (IMHO only). My analysis of what Subaru might be most likely to do was more based on the factors surrounding it. An Ascent based mid-sized has a clear path for Subaru. Build it at the Indiana plant and re-purpose a platform you sent hundreds of millions developing and has had limited use to date.

That said it wouldn't surprise me at all for them to instead build a compact pickup. However, it would SHOCK me if it was a short car like compact (Baja/Brat) rather than something taller like the Forester. Outside of enthusiasts (us) I just don't think the market is there anymore and it would be a complete flop.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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Frankly, Subaru needs to go back to the concept of the 'niche' market, something that their semi-partner Toyota has (or had) been doing for years. Toyota has a vehicle for pretty much every small niche market out there .
If you think about it, add up enough niches and you have the whole market.
In Subaru's case, it's pretty much been slight variations on the same theme. SUV in small, medium and large is most of what they sell.
Back when it was introduced, the Forester was somewhat unique.
Now half the cars on the road look close enough like it that they could be mistaken for it.

As far a Hyundai/Kia goes, that company used to produce cheap rather than inexpensive cars.
Go back far enough in history and that would apply to Fuji HE as well.
My first Subaru was a 1969 360cc two stroke van that was a beer can on wheels.
Both companies' products have improved over the years, and obviously Subaru had many years head start.

Many of Hyundai's newer models are rated among the best in their respective segments.
The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, 2020 Santa Fe, and 2021 Kona are all ranked #1 in their classes.
I'm thinking your opinion on quality may be dated.

I had bought a new Kia Rio Hatchback as some economical transportation for my wife in 2013 and its 1.6 Liter Genesis engine was on Wards top 10 engines list, something I've never seen accomplished at Subaru. It was a great little car with incredible mpg's and plenty of power with the smoothest shifting automatic I've ever driven with 6 speeds.
I wish my Forester had as much legroom, but it doesn't..

As to the Santa Cruz - It will come with a 10 year/100K powertrain, 5 year/60K full warranty and 3 years scheduled maintenance included in the cost.
Not bad, IMHO, and since the competition from Subaru for a vehicle that provides what I want is nil, the Pleiades isn't a trump card for me.
 

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honestly? The reason for my not wanting a Hyundai or Kia has nothing to do with their reliability or warranty or record... I did look at Hyundai way - way - way back in the early days (looked at the original Mitsubishi based Hyundai Excel - which was then rebadged and sold as a Mitsubisi Precis)...

Rather it has to do more with design and color availabity... As I've discussed in many other posts about why I do not drive an XT (black interiors), it's the same thing with the interior colors available on those models in my area.... When I was shopping for my Forester, I also looked at the offerings from Kia and Hyundai and nothing was available with any color choice beyond black or dark, dark, DARK charcoal... I live in the SoCal desert and regularly see triple-digit summer temps (we've had 2 100 degree days and about 20 90+ degree days in the past month). I don't need to add additional heat gain by a dark interior to that outside temp...

My neighbor has had Hyundai models (a Sonata LTD for the wife, and a few different models for him) for years now and no issues. I know of quite a few happy with their Hyundai products. I drove a Kia Soul for a few weeks as a rental and was impressed and it was on my shopping list.. I know lots of Hyundai and Kia owners that are very happy with theirs.

As for the Santa Cruz - just not a fan of the front end and what we've seen of the interior....

And I still think Subaru would do well to bring back an SUV-based, unibody framed trucklet to the market. They can work well with Toyota to make such a beast happen.
 

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FozzieBalou

When someone mentions they would never own brand X, I assume they have some solid reasons for that.
For a car, a device designed for a purpose, "design beauty" and color choices aren't a primary consideration for me.
I happen to like the look of the Santa Cruz, but that isn't why I'd buy it.

Myself, in a vehicle, I prefer function to form and the Cruz would be better able to fit my needs.
There's lots of things I could (and did) do with my Bajas that I can't do with the Forester, and could do with the Cruz.

I agree with your quote, " Subaru would do well to bring back an SUV-based, unibody framed trucklet to the market".
Hopefully Subaru eventually launches something "Baja like", but with no formal announcement, it's likely to be years out, even with a go decision today on that product.

Perhaps if I buy the Cruz when it comes out, I'll help Subaru rethink their decision to abandon the compact TUV market.
Had they not, I'd be buying Subaru #7 instead of Hyundai #1.

Maybe I'll have an option of buying a Subaru that better fits my needs further down the road, but in the interim I'll have a vehicle that I can use to do what I need it to do.
That, and the fact that I like the way it looks...
;)
 

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Sahuarita, AZ 2018 Forester Limited
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Ten times what the original Maverick cost:
553623
 

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2005 2.5X 4EAT 2017 2.5i Prem CVT
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@ForesterBill Interesting that Ford is pricing the new Maverick at $19,995 in the tradition of the '70 Maverick starting at $1995. Lee Iacocca had issued an edict that the '70 Maverick was to start under $2K, period, full stop, end of story. Ford spent millions trying to come up with new ways to make the Maverick cheaper to build. So cheap they didn't have a glove box for the first three years (even the Pinto had a glove box....with a lock!) and they rusted far worse than Fords already did in the early '70s.

Let's hope that's not the case with this truck, because something like this is long overdue.
 
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