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Acura beat several other luxury makes to market in '96 with its brand-new SLX sport/utility vehicle.

Exploring undriven trails while seeking to attract buyers who might have normally considered a luxury car, Acura wanted to cash in on the sport/utility boom by offering the same upscale comfort and amenities in a 4x4. Essentially a rebadged Isuzu Trooper, there was plenty of competition at the high end of the market: Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, Land Rover Range Rover and the Lexus LX 450/470, among others.

Civilized, refined and luxurious, but tough as they came, the SLX was a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. It had a 190-horsepower V6 engine designed to provide plenty of low end torque to tackle uneven terrain. Standard equipment included shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive, dual air bags, an Acura Music System, Anti-Lock Brakes, power windows and door locks, and much more.

The SLX remained the only known SUV from Acura through April 2000, when it was replaced by the North American-produced Acura MDX, which remained the only SUV available since then until 2006.


Year-to-year changes[]

1996[]

The SLX was offered in one body style -- a 6-door wagon (four doors, plus 70/30 vertically split rear doors) and two trim levels—SLX and SLX Premium Package. There were no options available with either package.

One powertrain was offered—a 3.2-liter all-aluminum V6 that produced 190 hp, mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. A "power mode" let the engine rev higher between shifts, and a "winter mode" started off in Third gear to reduce wheelspin on slippery surfaces. It was required to move a lever to shift from 2wd to 4wd, at any speed under 60 mph. The SLX favors on-road cruising over serious off-road slogging, with an A-arm front/multilink-axle rear suspension, chassis tuning geared for comfort and quiet-running all-season tires.

Both SLXs came standard with ABS, air conditioning, cruise control, dual airbags, 6-speaker 100-watt sound system, tachometer and underbody skid plates. The Premium Package added fancier alloy wheels, rear limited-slip differential, power moonroof, leather seats and heated power-operated front seats.

1997[]

An in-dash CD player became standard for the 1997 model year.

1998[]

The 1998 SLX gained 25 more horsepower than its 1997 counterpart, in a bigger 3.5-liter V6 engine.

1999[]

The price was unchanged for 1999, when the car was released for sale on December 1, 1998.

Retail prices[]

Model year(s) List price Destination charge Effective date
1996 $33,900 $420 November 1, 1995
1997 $35,300 $435 January 1, 1997
1998 $36,300 $435 November 10, 1997
1999 $36,300 $455 December 1, 1998

A 2015 Acura RDX with all-wheel drive costs as much as a 1998/1999 Acura SLX.

Gallery[]