What's New for 1998
Acura's rebadged Isuzu Trooper gets more power and torque, a trick new 4WD system and revised styling for 1998.
Corporate sharing is all the rage these days. Manufacturers are scrambling to fill the holes in their line-ups by slapping their badges on vehicles they buy from other makers. Even highly regarded firms like Acura are not above climbing into a cozy relationship with another marque; witness the Acura SLX. Based on Isuzu's competent Trooper, the Acura is a marginally spruced-up version of the same truck. This isn't a bad thing since we have always thought the Trooper to be attractive, but it does seem dishonest. Imagine the embarrassment of the SLX owner who thinks they got something special only to find that they are driving an Isuzu?
The SLX has a 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam engine that produces 215 horsepower. It delivers capable acceleration in a vehicle this large, and this vehicle is definitely large. Markedly wider and taller than most of its competitors, the SLX has a rear cargo capacity capable of hauling several sheets of plywood.
For 1998, a bigger and somehow lighter engine provides huge improvements in horsepower and torque (up 13 and 22 percent over last year's engine, respectively). And the new Torque On Demand (TOD) drive system replaces conventional 4- high mode for better performance on paved or slippery roads. That's plenty of improvements under the hood, but the interior remains pretty much unchanged. A newly revised instrument panel includes a digital odometer and trip meter.
The Acura SLX is priced the same as a fully loaded Isuzu Trooper. The SLX has a softer ride that results in improved on-road manners. Off-road capability is equal to the ground-pounding Trooper but large bumps may cause the suspension to bottom out; the price you pay for that luxurious highway ride. Of course, very few SLXs will ever find their way off-road, unless the gravel driveway of the local polo club counts.
We know that luxurious sport-utes of today are like the sports cars so prevalent in the mid-eighties. Designed for function but purchased for prestige, they are seldom driven to their capabilities. With this in mind, the SLX is a fine vehicle delivering the prestige and comfort that Acura owners have come to expect. Infiniti, Mercedes and Lincoln have recently released their own luxury sport-utes; most of them based on vehicles that are already in existence. This, and the bad press that the Acura SUV received as a result of an independent consumer group's roll-over test, has made the SLX somewhat vulnerable in the highly competitive luxury sport-ute marketplace. As a result, we've seen great lease deals and attractive financing to move these trucks out of showrooms. If you are looking for a large, luxurious sport-utility vehicle and aren't prone to whip-sawing the steering wheel back and forth during your daily commute, this truck might just be perfect for you.