LA Auto Show: Subaru Introduces Second Version of Baja


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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 2, 2003; Subaru of America, Inc. today introduced the Baja Sport, a second version of its new crossover vehicle that blends the versatility and ruggedness of a compact 4-door pickup truck with the driving dynamics, safety and comfort of a passenger car. Baja Sport offers all the fun and function of the original -- at a lower suggested retail price.

The original All-Wheel Drive Baja arrived in Subaru dealerships this past fall, and the Baja Sport, the second model in the series, will arrive in dealerships in February. Both are based on the highly successful Legacy(R)/Outback(R) platform and were inspired by the Subaru ST-X Concept Vehicle. Impressively equipped, Baja Sport boasts more than 60 standard features, among them air conditioning, power moonroof, power windows, mirrors and door locks, an 80-Watt, 4-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD player, tilt-adjustable steering column, cruise control, a digital outside temperature gauge and a remote keyless entry system. For customers who don't require the original Baja model's standard leather-trimmed upholstery, Baja Sport features medium gray moquette upholstery with black vinyl bolsters. The Baja models follow in the pioneering tire tracks of the Subaru Outback, the World's First Sport-Utility Wagon(R). The Outback sparked the trend in crossover vehicles that combine positive attributes of a sport- utility vehicle with the handling, ride comfort and fuel efficiency of a passenger car. The Baja models deliver many of the practical benefits of a 4-door compact pickup truck, but with the kind of responsive handling and ride comfort that eludes truck-based vehicles. The practical size makes the Baja easy to maneuver, while still offering cargo-carrying versatility not possible in a sedan or wagon.

Switchback(TM) System Extends Cargo Area The key to the Subaru Baja models' versatility is the Subaru-designed Switchback(R) system that 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. Subaru designed the Baja with the active-lifestyle person in mind. The rear seatbacks fold down to add interior storage, and the Switchback panel between the cargo bed and interior section can be lowered to then extend the cargo area length. The expandable 41.5-inch pickup bed can handle a variety of outdoor equipment, such as mountain bikes, surfboards or scuba gear - even a go-kart. Lowering the tailgate and attaching the optional Subaru accessory bed extender lengthens the bed to 60.5 inches. Lowering the rear seat and Switchback cargo bed door can then provide a maximum load floor length of about 75 inches for carrying long items. Subaru equipped the Baja bed for rugged usage. An integrated bed liner provides durability and allows easy cleaning, and other useful features include bed sport bars, a dual-illumination bed light and four tie-down hooks. Baja also comes standard with roof rails and cross bars, and Subaru offers attachments for carrying bicycles, skis, kayaks and snowboards. Both Baja models have a rated towing capacity of 2,400 pounds.

Design Blends Style and Function Subaru Baja models share a family resemblance with the Outback, including the enlarged front fenders, large foldable body-color mirrors and integrated foglights with stone guards. Exclusive Baja design elements include the grille and lower body cladding similar to that of the ST-X concept vehicle. Both Baja models feature exclusive Silver Stone lower body and tailgate cladding. Compared to the original Baja model, minor exterior differences for the Baja Sport include two-beam multi-reflector headlights (instead of four-beam), and black door handles and exterior mirrors (instead of body color). Both Baja models are configured strictly as 4-passenger vehicles. The rear seating area provides each passenger with the feeling of personal space and comfort, further distinguishing Baja models from the more utility-oriented models on the market. Dark smoke tinted rear door glass and rear window glass reinforce this ambience. A rear-seat console box in the seat bottom integrates dual cupholders. The Baja Sport interior shares the exclusive design features of the original model, including instrument gauges with silver trim rings and silver metallic-finished trim on the left dash switch bezel, the audio bezel, shifter trim plate and door switch bezels.

Proven All-Wheel Drive Performance A 2.5-liter horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine shared with Outback and other Subaru models gives Baja an excellent balance of performance and fuel efficiency. The engine produces 165 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 166 lb.-ft. peak torque at 4,000 rpm. Baja models return EPA fuel efficiency ratings of 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and 21/26 mpg with the 4-speed automatic.

Outdoor-Friendly Subaru of America supports various outdoor activities and conservation and recycling programs, including the U.S. Forest Service "Tread Lightly!" program, which encourages careful use of off-road trails. Baja was recently selected as the official vehicle of the Pro Surfing Tour of America. Subaru is the official vehicle of Dagger Canoe and Kayak Company, the American Canoe Association, the National Ski Patrol, the Professional Ski Instructors of America, the International Mountain Biking Association, Gary Fisher Bicycle Components and Leave No Trace.

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. For additional information on Baja Sport and other all-wheel drive Subaru vehicles, visit the company's online newsroom at http://www.media.subaru.com.

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