The 1998 Acura SLX is a boxy, Brink's truck of a luxury sport-utility that's been improved for this year with a bigger engine and mildly redesigned exterior. If you've felt claustrophobic in some of the competition, this upscale Japanese offering - built for Honda by Isuzu - could be the cure, especially with its roomy interior and standard moonroof that seems to stretch halfway across the vehicle. Our test vehicle had a sticker price of $36,735. Don't worry. People will immediately realize you paid a pretty penny for the two-tone SLX when they see you coming. She: I'm sure you're just dying to hear my emotional reaction to the SLX. He: Emotions don't belong in a test drive - or in a sport-utility. She: Yes, they do, especially when a feeling like fear comes to mind. I have to admit it. I felt a little afraid taking curvy exit ramps in the SLX. It seems too tall and tippy. And it was way too showy for my taste. I live and work in Detroit, and I felt like I had a neon sign on top of the SLX that said, "Hey! Look at me! I've got money and one of the biggest beasts on the road. And guess what? I'm stupid, too. I don't mind getting 15 miles per gallon in the city. I desperately need power fold-in mirrors so I can squeeze into parking spaces. And that standard altimeter and barometer sure come in handy, too." Gee, honey, do you think I'm too crabby? He: You never know when you're going to need to measure altitude or barometric pressure. And, yes, you're definitely a crab. What you should be telling people is that the SLX is really a mildly disguised Isuzu Trooper, which has long been one of my favorite sport-utilities. For '98, Isuzu enlarged the old 3.2-liter V-6 to 3.5 liters and boosted the output to an ample 215 horsepower. You'll notice the SLX has become a more practical choice for all-weather driving, too, with a new full-time four-wheel-drive system that you operate by pushing a dash-mounted switch. She: What I noticed was that the steering still doesn't feel that precise, and the ride quality wasn't what I'd expect in a vehicle that cost as much as our first house. He: I don't really have a problem with the ride quality, although it's not on par with a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Mercury Mountaineer. But I think the SLX is still a solid combination of luxury and brawn, and is not a bad choice in the under-$40,000 bracket. She: I do give Acura credit for making items such as anti-lock brakes standard. And you probably get one of the best customer service packages in the sport-utility market, which includes stuff such as 24-hour roadside assistance and concierge service to help find hotels and plan trips. But can't I get some of the same amenities with my AAA card? And most importantly, wouldn't the best idea be to just buy an Isuzu Trooper, which is about $4,000 cheaper than the Acura? He: I think you're forgetting what you do get in the SLX - lots of luxury, plus a sport-utility t hat can haul five adults with ease. The seats are terrific. The front ones are heated and the driver gets an eight-way power seat. The outer rear seats have special footrests so you can relax on long trips and the rear seats recline and fold down for lots of cargo flexibility. I also like the fact that the rear hatch swings open like a gate. It's a very user-friendly vehicle. She: OK, I made fun of the car's altimeter, but in truth, it has an impressive list of standard features. The only option on our test vehicle was the $84 floor mats. You get a cushy leather-trimmed interior, keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and a CD player at no extra cost. He: The SLX is not the newest entry, nor is it the best. With an out-the-door price of nearly $37,000, it's definitely not a bargain. But with its Isuzu pedigree and cushy package, I think it's a worthwhile choice for high-flyers. Type: Four-wheel-drive, five-passenger sport-utility vehicle. Price: Ba $36,300; as tested, $36,819 (including $435 destination charge). Engine: 3.5-liter V-6; 215 hp at 5,400 rpm; 230 lb-ft torque at 3,000 rpm. EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway. 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan: $1,367. Where built: Fujisawa, Japan.
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||July 1, 1998|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||March 30, 1998|
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