The boxy Acura SLX was one of the first SUVs from a luxury automaker when it bowed in 1995 for the 1996 model year. It didn’t take much more than a quick glance for most car enthusiasts to realize that its crisp lines, 3.2-liter V6 and various parts that said “Isuzu” on them were clear indicators that the SLX did not come from Acura parent Honda. It was, of course, an Isuzu Trooper, with wood trim and optional leather seats.
That’s not to say that the SLX was a bad idea. It helped Honda quickly capitalize on growing interest in SUVs as it readied the MDX crossover that would go on sale about five years after the SLX.
Sensing nostalgia for the ’90s but wanting to do more than just restore a tired SLX, Acura tracked down one of the few remaining examples of its rebadged Trooper, ripped out its powertrain and suspension, and mated the square body to the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 10-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive system and independent suspension from the current RDX.
The project was, to say the least, ambitious. Acura had a little help locating the SLX. The brand’s best-known evangelist, Tyson Hougie, happened to have a spare one in his remarkably complete 1990s Acura fleet. Honda shipped the car off to its research and development center in Ohio, which set to work refurbishing the truck and pulling the longitudinal V6 in favor of the transverse turbo-4. In this way, the RDX-powered SLX is kind of like a Saab. It’s also pretty darn weird.
The final product was unveiled in time for the Radwood SoCal show in early December. Aside from a slightly widened stance and non-original wheels, it looks just like an ultra-clean SLX. Inside, Acura refinished the wood trim in a matte hue like that used in the RDX, tossed the original transmission and transfer case levers in favor of the odd button setup currently en vogue at Honda, and placed a digital display in front of the stock instrument cluster.
With 350 horsepower, the SLX-ized RDX is up 160 ponies over the original Isuzu engine. This is well illustrated in the kitschy, fun video Acura released:
Now, if only other automakers would get on board with this kind of SUV restomodding. How about an Infiniti QX4 with Q50 Red Sport power? Maybe a Lexus RX with the LFA‘s screaming 4.8-liter V8? Or a Land Rover Discovery with the 557-hp V8 from the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic? Find an Acura SLX for sale
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