Archive for January 15th, 2012

Test Drive: 1996 Acura SLX

On January 13, 2012, I test drove a 1996 Acura SLX at Glendora Motorcars in Glendora, California. The vehicle has a green and tan two tone exterior with a black cloth interior. The rear seat bench cushion didn’t match the rest of the upholstery in the car. It was some kind of grey, leather-like cushion. I’m not sure if it’s original or not. The car has 165,000 miles, and the asking price is $2,650. In case if you didn’t notice, the Acura SLX is exactly identical to the Isuzu Trooper. In that case, it has the same Isuzu built 3.2 liter V6 engine as the Trooper. The engine’s codename is 6VD1, which produces 190 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 188 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. The transmission is a 4 speed automatic with four wheel drive. When someone thinks of an Acura SUV, the MDX or RDX will most likely come to mind. The SLX was the first SUV under the Acura name, but it wasn’t the first one designed by the Acura brand itself. The Acura SLX debuted as a 1996 model only to the North American market. The SLX’s square like styling isn’t any different than that of the Trooper’s. In 1998, the SLX as well as the Trooper got a minor facelift with new headlights, front bumper, and grille. Production of the Acura SLX ended in 1999 because of low and unsuccessful sales. Like the Trooper, consumers were concerned about the vehicles’ potential of being involved in rollover crashes. Most of the focus was on the Trooper because of the SLX’s low popularity. I have not come across very many Acura SLX SUVs on the road or online. When I found the Acura SLX in Glendora on Autotrader, it was only one of five in the entire United States. I did come across one or two listed on my local Craigslist, but that’s about it. Now, let’s get to the test drive.
I went to Glendora Motorcars and expected a non-pushy salesperson because it specifically said in the Autotrader dealer description, “No pushy sales or finance people to bother you!” I walked in, and there was just one, middle-aged man named Mike in the office. I think he may be the only one that works at the dealer. I just told him that I found the Acura SLX on Autotrader and I wanted to have a look at it. He got the key and we went outside. He told me that the vehicle has been sitting for a few weeks and that it may not start. He was right. He went back inside the office to get a pair of jumper cables. He used a Chevy Suburban parked next to the SLX to jump start it and it worked. The SLX had a very loud start up noise. It could have been from a bad belt or a pulley. The squealing noise went away after a few seconds. While the vehicle was warming up, I walked around it to check it out. There were deep scratches around the body, especially on the light bar cover above the rear license plate. The paint on the hood was dull in color as well. No body damage other than those. The carpet in the cargo area had a few stains in it from whatever was put in there previously. The armrest cover for the front passenger seat was cracked and worn. The interior door handle on the left passenger door didn’t work, but that’s a minor fix. The radio worked, but the power and volume button was missing and I couldn’t hear anything from the front speakers. The power windows and mirrors did operate though. After a few minutes of the SLX warming up, I asked Mike to drive it. He said yes, but he didn’t want me to drive it for more than a mile down the street.
When I put the car in reverse, it slipped into neutral. The shifter in the car was very loose and easy to shift into a different gear without pushing the button. I think if someone wanted to play with the shifter while the vehicle was in motion, it could slip out of gear causing a serious problem. I was extra cautious while backing out. The spare tire would hit something behind me before the bumper would. I also drove very slowly to make a right turn out of the dealer lot, and onto Route 66. Like with many SUVs, the turning radius was not very sharp. Right after taking off, I started noticing some problems. The check engine light has been on since the vehicle has been started. When I floored the SUV as it went into second gear, the power cut off and I couldn’t go any faster than 45 miles per hour. It would then accelerate into third gear after about five seconds. I thought that the car needed a new transmission. I would not recommend driving this SLX on the freeway. I made a U-turn after driving for about a mile and started hearing a quiet rattling noise coming from the engine compartment. It sounded like a winding toy car. I then tried to accelerate and again, after hitting second gear, the car’s power would cut off at 45 miles per hour. I drove it to a residential street next to the dealer. I made a three point turn at a cul-de-sac because a car was parked at the end of it. After driving it back to the dealer, I kindly mentioned to Mike that the Check engine light was on, and the car needed work. I suggested to him that he should drive it so that he can have a better understanding of what was wrong with it. Mike didn’t seem to care a whole lot, saying that the vehicle will be sold as is and that $2,650 was a good price. He didn’t sound mad or offended, but he didn’t seem to think much of what I said. He gave me a business card, and then I left. Mike was a nice and patient guy, but he just didn’t want to fix the vehicle.
Overall, The Acura SLX is big and spacious, but it needs to be maintained well in order to run correctly. If this SLX was repaired and running like it should, then it would make a great vehicle to drive; at least if gas mileage isn’t a big concern. I really liked it, but I was disappointed that it was being neglected and abandoned on the lot. Even though the Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value in excellent condition is $2,871, no one will buy it unless if repairs were done on it. Still, I think $2,650 is a little too much. The fair condition value for private party is only $1,196, and in excellent condition, it wouldn’t be worth anymore than $1,950. Basically, it’s worthless. It will be sitting on the lot for a long time unless if Mike does something about it, whether it’s fixing it, selling it for much cheaper, or junking it.

Photos taken by Glendora Motorcars.