normcore restomods for the win

This Rare, Old-School Acura SUV Is Cooler Than You Realize. Here’s Why


December 15, 2019 Cars By

Post-boomers enjoy 1990s nostalgia. It’s the period where many of us either were cool or were learning what being cool entailed. But that nostalgia is manifesting itself in the vintage car market where the eye-catching item may now be an exceptionally clean normcore SUV rather than a painstakingly restored muscle car.

Acura, perhaps noticing the crazy spike in Integra Type R prices, is tapping into that nostalgia. The company is bringing a rare Acura SLX—one of the many variants of the Isuzu Trooper—to RADwood LA this year. It’s not just any rehabilitated off-roader. It’s a heavily modified, 350 horsepower “Super Handling SLX.”

Essentially, Acura gutted a donor 1997 SLX body and replaced it with the best modern guts from the RDX, the SLX’s sort-of descendant. Out went the original 3.2-liter V6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission. In came a race-tuned and turbocharged 2.0-liter VTEC with a 10-speed automatic. Acura also swapped the traditional 4×4 transfer case for the modern fourth-generation Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system, hence the name.

Acura’s PR video for the Super Handling SLX offered an oddball origin story for the vehicle involving some green ooze in a suburban garage. But the actual build required a painstaking effort from a team of engineers in Ohio. Acura’s estimated price for recreating this build was “don’t even ask.”

We give Acura an “A” for this effort. Of all the ways to promote a midsize crossover, the “Super Handling SLX” is a fun one. An “A+” would have required stocking the disc changer with some period-correct Britpop and Dave Matthews.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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