1997 Acura SLX - Introduction


A year ago, the 1996 Acura SLX became the first off-road capable vehicles offered by a luxury import nameplate in the United States. The SLX was engineered to be as competent and satisfying on a trek to the Grand Canyon as it is on a family jaunt to a ski area in the Sierras. It provides a level of ride quality, comfort and luxury amenities typical of fine imported luxury sedans, combined with the ruggedness, utility, all-weather handling and off-road capability of a top-rank four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The explosive growth of the sport utility vehicle market has had a large impact on the luxury sedan market. Many affluent drivers who would traditionally become prime luxury car customers as they matured have chosen, instead, to look at upmarket Sport Utility Vehicles. These drivers are accustomed to the creature comforts, lavish amenities and understated styling of imported and domestic luxury cars-and are increasingly demanding the same features in SUVs. For these reasons, the SLX is a fitting and natural addition to the Acura lineup.

The Acura SLX is designed to do it all. It's elegant enough to be seen in front of the finest restaurants and hotels, yet highly rugged and fully capable of making the trip from Tierra del Fuego to Fairbanks, Alaska.

In addition to its state-of-the-art engineering, impressive performance, solid construction and overall quality, the Acura SLX also offers the high-end SUV buyer with a true luxury ownership experience, from the courteous treatment offered by Acura dealers to the Acura TLC Customer Satisfaction Program, which provides 24-hour roadside assistance, concierge service, trip planning and many other owner benefits.

For 1997, the SLX has been updated with an array of luxury amenities offered as standard equipment, including a power moonroof, in-dash AM/FM/Cassette/CD audio system, and a keyless entry system.

The Acura SLX is intended to compete with the Land Rover Range Rover and Discovery, Lexus LX450, Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Pathfinder and new entries from other luxury brands, as well as the higher trim levels of domestic SUVs such as the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevy /GMC Blazer. The SLX is built for Acura by Isuzu Motors, Ltd., and is manufactured in Japan.

Concepts and Goals

The SLX is designed to provide:

  • A remarkable level of comfort and luxury amenities.
  • Ride and handling qualities more typical of a luxury sports sedan than an off-road vehicle.
  • A torquey, powerful engine for impressive acceleration, effortless cruising, reliable towing, excellent performance and predictable response.
  • Hassle-free, shift-on-the-fly transition from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive.
  • High level of safety performance with strong box-section frame construction, 4-wheel anti-lock (ABS) disc brakes, dual SRS air bags, and other safety features.
  • Spacious interior and best-in-class cargo space and convenience.
  • Tasteful exterior styling and interior design.


The Acura SLX is available exclusively in a 6-door body style, with four conventional passenger doors and a convenient 70/30 two-sided rear door for ease of loading.

Every SLX is equipped with an all-aluminum, 3.2-liter, single-overhead-camshaft V-6 engine with four valves per cylinder, producing 190 horsepower. Electronic fuel injection is used for precise fuel delivery and enhanced driveability.

A four-speed automatic transmission is standard, with a "power mode" that makes upshifts higher in the rev band for increased acceleration, and a "winter mode" that starts the vehicle in third gear for enhanced traction and control in slippery conditions. Shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-drive is standard.

A double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension deliver generous travel and compliance for smooth, controllable off-road driving and confident, comfortable highway response. Ventilated disc brakes are used all around, with a 4-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) standard.

The steel frame of the SLX uses box-section members for added strength and rigidity; these are much stiffer in torsion and bending than the U-channel members used on many competing SUVs. Overall, the Acura SLX offers a remarkably smooth, quiet ride and exceptional highway handling response, with the full complement of amenities and safety features, such as dual SRS air bags, expected in a luxury sedan.

The SLX also offers excellent off-road performance, with abundant ground clearance, double-wishbone front suspension, a full complement of skid plates for component protection and a powertrain engineered for highly usable power delivery.

An optional Premium Package adds such amenities as leather seating surfaces, power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, heated front seats, limited-slip rear differential and special machine-finish aluminum wheels.

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