You remember the Acura SLX, don’t you? Wait, what’s that? You... don’t remember the Acura SLX? How disappointing. I was counting on all of you to keep track of the world’s obscure Isuzu Trooper variants. (It was a Holden and an Opel too!) But now the SLX is back, and more rad than ever because this one is using modern powertrain from an Acura RDX.
Meet the Super Handling SLX, set to debut at the next Radwood show in Orange County this Saturday. What you’re seeing is a 1997 SLX that has had its 4x4 drivetrain and 3.2-liter V6 pulled out and replaced with a modern 2.0-liter turbo-four, 10-speed automatic transmission and torque-vectoring AWD from an Acura RDX. I suppose you’d call it a restomod, and it’s certainly a unique one—all done in-house by Acura’s people.
This, as you might imagine, had its challenges. From Acura:
The “Super Handling SLX” reimagining was led by Acura engineers and Pikes Peak racing drivers James Robinson, Paul Hubers and Jordan Guitar. Beginning with a 1997 Acura SLX “donor car,” the Ohio-based team separated the body and frame to assess the feasibility of the powertrain swap. With the original SLX’s longitudinally mounted 3.2-liter V6 removed, it was confirmed the biggest challenge would be fitting a transverse mounted engine between the SUV’s frame rails.
“We knew packaging this new powertrain into the SLX would be tough, and it was,” said James Robinson, an Acura powertrain engineer. “But some parts came together much more easily than we had expected. As crazy as it sounds, the RDX’s driveshaft went into the SLX without any modifications at all.”
The result is quite impressive. And as you can see inside, it means a ’90s SUV with the push-button gear selector from the RDX, instead of an automatic gear lever. Crazy.
Additionally, the paint and interior were totally redone. And given that it now has 350 horsepower to the original V6's 190, I bet it moves a lot quicker these days.
You can see this thing at Radwood in OC this Saturday, next to the earliest known NSX in North America, a 1986 Integra Coupe from the Acura Museum and another unmodified SLX owned by the collector who offered up this donor car. Get your tickets here.