Premium large SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,000 – $4,200*


1997 Acura SLX


1998 Acura SLX Sport


1998 Acura SLX


1997 Acura SLX


1999 Acura SLX interior

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride

All told, the SLX delivers a hefty, rugged feel. Excellent detail workmanship is evident throughout the vehicle. Abundant passenger and cargo room and solid construction are also definite “pluses.” With the stronger 1998-99 engine, the SLX feels more competitive. Still, it doesn’t rate as high in our estimation as a Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition. Many other alternatives might be considered, from the Ford Explorer to a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Land Rover Discovery.

Overview

Honda’s luxury division issued a more posh version of the full-size Isuzu Trooper sport-utility vehicle in 1996. Built in Japan by Isuzu, the SLX got a different grille, wheels, and exterior/interior trim, as well as more luxury features than a Trooper offers. Available in base form or with a Premium Package, all SLX models had an automatic transmission, whereas Troopers could have manual shift. Power came from a 3.2-liter V6 engine that produced 190 horsepower. The 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger wagon had four side doors and dual swing-out rear doors (split 70/30). A two-speed transfer case provided low-range 4-wheel-drive gearing. Shifting between 2WD and 4WD High could be accomplished at speeds up to 60 mph. Standard equipment included dual airbags, 4-wheel antilock braking, air conditioning, a 6-speaker sound system with cassette player, power windows, and power door locks. An optional Premium Package added leather upholstery, heated power front seats, and a power moonroof, among other extras. SLX rivals included the GMC Yukon and Lincoln Navigator, as well as the lower-cost Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition.

Yearly Updates

1997 SLX
Base models got a standard power moonroof this year. Each version gained keyless entry and an in-dash CD player. Also added: an in-glass radio antenna and rear-seat cupholders. Revised power steering furnished more assist at low speeds.This year’s Premium Package added a “multimeter,” consisting of a compass, outside-temperature gauge, and barometer. That option also included heated perforated seats, leather upholstery, power fold-in mirrors, simulated woodgrain interior trim, a limited-slip differential, integrated fog lights, and 6-spoke alloy wheels. In 1997, NHTSA investigated charges that SLX and Trooper were more prone to tipping over than other SUVs. No merit to these allegations was found, but the charges did hurt sales figures.
1998 SLX
For 1998, SLX revised front-end styling as well as most of the changes that went on the Trooper. A new 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V6 engine, rated at 215 horsepower, replaced the prior 3.2-liter. “Torque on demand” 4-wheel-drive became standard, which allowed switching between 2WD and 4WD High “on the fly” using a dashboard button instead of a lever. The Premium Package was gone, but some of its features became standard. They included leather upholstery, woodgrain interior accents, heated power front seats, and an overhead console.
1999 SLX
Sales had been sluggish, so SLX was unchanged for ’99. Acura abandoned the vehicle after the 1999 model year. A completely different Acura sport-utility vehicle, called MD-X, was later scheduled for introduction as a 2001 model.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive

For its first two years, the SLX used a 3.2-liter V6 engine that produced 190 horsepower. A 3.5-liter V6 with dual overhead camshafts replaced that engine for 1998, adding 25 horsepower. All SLX models had a 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/193
Engine HP 190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 188
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/18

12.6

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/18

14.5

Road Test

An SLX offers plenty of room for people and cargo, though the tall step-up height makes entry/exit a chore. Acceleration in early models is more than adequate, and the engine is generally smooth and quiet. Fuel economy ranks as dismal. We averaged just 12.6 mpg in a mix of urban commuting and expressway cruising. An early Isuzu Trooper got 15.5 mpg with a lot of highway driving.

The power boost of 1998-99 was immediately evident, and most welcome. A driver could now step away from a stop with swiftness that the prior 3.2-liter engine could not muster. Changing engines, the SLX also lost its slightly ponderous feeling during in-town driving. The infusion of torque coaxes prompter, more effective downshifting from the automatic transmission for highway passing. EPA gas-mileage estimates were unchanged with the new V6.

An SLX suspension provides a stable highway ride, but does not soak up the big bumps all that well. Also, the ride feels harsh over rough pavement. Body roll is quite evident in tight turns. Power steering is slow and numb, too.

Braking is good, but stopping distances are not exceptionally short. That’s not exactly a surprise, considering the amount of weight that’s being brought to a halt.

Like Trooper, Acura’s SLX is one of the roomiest SUVs around. You can expect plenty of head clearance, in both front and rear. The back seat is wide enough to fit three adults without squeezing.

The tall build combines with large windows for fine visibility. Unfortunately, the steering wheel sits at a buslike angle that takes some getting used to. Some minor controls seem haphazardly placed.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 Acura SLX

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 44

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 183.5 72.4 72.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
90.2 22.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 39.8 40.8 39.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 SLX 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Dashboard lights
Description: The four-wheel-drive indicator stays on when the vehicle is in two-wheel drive. (1996-97)
Dashboard lights
Description: The 4WD indicator light may stay on due to problems with the vacuum solenoid valves that must be replaced. (1996-97)
Doors
Description: The rubber molding between the doors and front pillar (A-pillar) comes loose and makes a buzzing noise. (1996)
Vehicle noise
Description: If there is not enough limited slip additive in the rear differential, it chatters and vibrates when cornering. (1996-99)
Vehicle noise
Description: A buzzing noise from the A-pillar (between the windshield and door) requires resealing with silicone sealant between the molding and pillar. (1996)
Vehicle shake
Description: Vibration and chattering when cornering is usually due to lack of limited-slip differential (LSD) additive in the rear differential. (1996-99)

Recall History

1996
Description: Certain vehicles were built with incorrect rear center seatbelt buckle; tongue cannot be inserted.
1996-97
Description: Left front brake line can be damaged, resulting in fluid leakage, reduced brake effectiveness, and longer stopping distance.
1998
Description: Improperly-installed transfer gearbox nuts may loosen; propeller shaft can then separate, resulting in sudden loss of drive to wheels and possible damage to critical components.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.