Acura SLX (1998)

AcuraWhat is an Acura SLX? It's really just an Isuzu Trooper that's beenrechristened by the marketing geniuses at Acura. We looked long and hardfor that little corner of the body, or the engine, where the guys at Acurahad forgotten to grind off the word "Isuzu." No luck. They got all of them.

This is an Isuzu Trooper with just about all of the options. We'resurprised that Acura is not embarrassed by this car. Why did Acura decideto subcontract their sport utility effort to Isuzu? It's really prettysimple. Acura wanted to jump into the sport utility market in a hurry--butthey didn't have the factory capacity to manufacture one on their own.So...they purchased the extra capacity at the local Isuzu factory. Voila:an Acura sport utility vehicle.

But, if Acura is saying, in effect, "Isuzu makes just as good a vehicle asAcura," then why buy an Acura? The only good reason is because there's anAcura dealer closer to your house than an Isuzu dealer.

The SLX is the oldest of the old-style sport utilities: in other words,it's tall, thin and reportedly tips over easily, as the folks atConsumer Reports will be happy to tell you. And, because it hassuch a tall profile, it is lousy on the highway. The SLX blew all over theroad. It drifted excessively. And that was a brand-new SLX--over time(as with all cars), the handling will only get worse.

The greatest thing this car had going for it? A positively humongoussunroof. The biggest, most wonderful sunroof we've experienced in years.(And, yes, to answer your question, this does constitute "damning withfaint praise.") In the case of the SLX, however, the sunroof is more thanjust a luxury, it's a safety feature. When you're close to tipping over,just open the sunroof and jump out.

A final drawback? The SLX had a rear gate that was a phenomenal pain inthe tuchus. Every time it was opened, it locked. To unlock it required anawkward maneuver. Who's designing these things? Houdini's grandson?

To be fair to Acura, they did their best to gussy it up. The SLX isrelatively comfortable to sit in. It's got lots of leather. It looksnice. However, beauty is only skin deep--and when you get right down toit, this is still an Isuzu Trooper. We were stopped by many people, whoremarked on the fine looks of the car. You should have seen the looks ontheir faces, however, when they learned it was really an Isuzu Trooper inAcura clothing. Downcast doesn't begin to describe it.

If you like this car and you have the option, we'd recommend you buy theTrooper. Put it this way: Acura doesn't think there's a difference betweenIsuzu and Acura, so why should you? Besides, if you wind up with an SLX,you'll end up taking this to the Acura dealer--where they'll charge twicewhat the Isuzu guys are getting down the street.

View a cars.com model report on this vehicle.


[Test Drive Notes Index]