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DETROIT, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Subaru of America, Inc. today introduced
the 2003 Baja, a new type of crossover vehicle that blends the utility and
rugged appeal of a compact four-door pickup truck with the driving dynamics,
safety and comfort of a passenger car. Based on the Legacy/Outback platform,
the unique All-Wheel Drive Baja arrives in Subaru dealerships in fall 2002.
Subaru has established a dedicated consumer web site for the new model,
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20020107/PHM002 )
Subaru previewed the design and features of the Baja with the ST-X concept
vehicle, first shown in 2000. The ST-X introduced a key to the Baja model's
versatility -- the Subaru-designed Switchback(TM) system, which provides the
ability to reconfigure the rear seating area, as well as the cargo bed, to
meet a variety of needs when transporting people and cargo. The practical size
of the Baja makes it easy to maneuver, while still offering cargo-carrying
capability not possible in a sedan or wagon.
The expandable pickup bed can handle a variety of outdoors equipment, such
as mountain bikes, surfboards or scuba gear -- even a go-kart. Lowering the
tailgate and attaching the Subaru accessory bed extender lengthens the bed to
nearly 7.5 feet. An integrated bed liner offers easy cleaning and durability,
and other useful features include bed sport bars, a bed light and four tie-
down hooks. The Baja also comes standard with roof rails and cross bars, and
Subaru will offer attachments for skis, kayaks and snowboards.
Like the ST-X concept vehicle that inspired it, the Baja is configured
strictly as a four-passenger vehicle. The rear seating area provides each
passenger with the feeling of personal space and comfort, further
distinguishing the Baja from more utility-oriented offerings.
The Subaru Baja incorporates Subaru Core Technology, which consists of
standard full-time All-Wheel Drive, a lightweight, horizontally opposed engine
and a simple, symmetric drivetrain layout. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
produces 165 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 166 lb.-ft. peak torque at 4,000 rpm.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed electronic
automatic is available as an option.
Heavy-duty raised four-wheel independent suspension permits off-road trail
driving while preserving a smooth on-road ride. A standard viscous limited-
slip rear differential directs power to the rear wheel with the best traction.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-wheel, four-channel ABS provide all-road,
all-weather confidence. Standard 16 x 6.5-inch alloy wheels and 225/60R-16
all-season tires lend a sporty, rugged appearance.
The Subaru Baja shares a family resemblance with the Outback, including
the enlarged front fenders, large foldable body-color mirrors and integrated
foglights. Exclusive Baja design elements include Silver Stone lower body and
tailgate cladding, a unique grill and a stylized alloy fuel door similar to
that of the ST-X concept vehicle. A Silver Stone monochromatic model includes
matching body and bumper color for a distinctive appearance.
The Baja builds on the content level of the Outback, adding luxury
amenities and exclusive interior design features. Highlights of Baja standard
features include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD player,
cruise control, keyless entry system, outside temperature gauge, perforated
leather trimmed upholstery, power moonroof, power windows, mirrors and door
locks and a six-way power driver's seat.
Safety technology in the Baja includes a unitized Ring-Shaped
Reinforcement body structure, de-powered dual front airbags, a dual-stage
passenger front airbag three-point seatbelts for all seating positions and
front seatbelts with pretensioners, force limiters and height-adjustable
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy
Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered near Philadelphia, the company
markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a
network of nearly 600 franchised dealers across the United States.

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Pretty neat. Looks like they're using the same marketing angle Pontiac used with the Aztec. Fortunately, this vehicle isn't an ugly POS, so it will probably do better than the Aztek. It's gonna be too expensive though, easily over $30k.

Oh, and what's with the roof mounted lights? Last thing I need is the same wahoos who drive around with their "driving lights" on all the time blinding me with those things. And couldn't the integrate them a little better? They look tacked-on.

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