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New Brumby? Subaru pushing to bring a ute model back to Australian range


Local Subaru boss says the Japanese marque would be “silly not to want to advocate and look” at a ute-style vehicle for the Australian market

Subaru Australia has stated it is continually advocating to its Japanese headquarters to develop a Brumby-style ute model amid rising demand for lifestyle pick-ups both here and abroad.

Earlier this month Subaru held a media event celebrating its 50th anniversary in Australia, with the Brumby singled out as one of the defining vehicles that kicked off its early success.

Could the iconic Brumby return?

Asked if it was advocating to its Japanese headquarters for a ute-style vehicle, possibly in unibody form and based on the Outback, Subaru Australia general manager Blair Read told Chasing Cars it was an obvious area of opportunity for the brand.

“Yes, [a ute model] is something we constantly have some dialogue on [with Subaru HQ] and advocate for, and we share the opportunity and share the passion for Brumby in Australia,” he said. 

“If you look at the market dynamic here, [utes are] a big strong part of the market, we’d be silly not to want to advocate and look for something in that space.”

An Outback-based dual-cab ute called the Subaru Baja was sold in the American market between 2002 and 2006 – but it was not offered in Australia.

Subaru Outback XT Touring 2023 front 3/4
An Outback-based ute could attract some fans

American success could see a Subaru ute adopted locally

In recent years, Ford has famously seen much success in the US with its unibody Maverick ute, as has Hyundai with its Santa Cruz, with the models sharing a platform with the Escape and Tucson midsize SUVs in their respective lineups.

It’s prompted much speculation that Subaru may follow suit and produce a unibody ute, perhaps even carrying the Brumby name – a vehicle also referred to as the ‘Brat’ in the US.

Earlier this year we reported on an April Fools joke made by a Subaru dealership who shared a render of the current-generation Outback Wilderness in dual-cab ute form and teased it as the new “Subaru Baja Wilderness”. 

2004 Subaru Outback Baja
The Subaru Baja was previously sold in America

The announcement may have just been a joke but the positive reception received from the idea showed the demand was very real indeed.

The Baja name previously adorned Subaru of America’s previous unibody ute, which was based on the second-generation Outback.

Although that model only sold between 2002 to 2006 and didn’t return for a second generation, the appetite seen for unibody utes in the US-market could help justify the development costs to cater to its larger population–something the relatively small Australian market would struggle to achieve by itself.

Why are unibody utes becoming more popular?

With midsize and larger utes such as the Ford Ranger and F-150 respectively growing larger and more expensive, a need has been identified for a ute-style vehicle that is affordable and packs similar, if reduced capability.

Ford Maverick Tremor 2023 rear 3/4 4
The popularity of unibody utes is on the rise

Furthermore, by using an existing unibody platform car makers can save money on development costs and our recent review of the Ford Maverick showed how these vehicles have a tendency to be more SUV-like in their handling, with a softer and more controlled ride.

Rumours have also been circulating that Toyota could soon enter this space with its own model, possibly adopting the defunct Stout name.

It remains to be seen if either model comes to fruition but if demand from the consumer and willingness from the manufacturer align, why would it not come to be?

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