By on November 5, 2018

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Even though we’ve just had two Japanese Junkyard Finds in a row, I’ve been searching for a discarded Acura SLX for so long that I had to share this ’99 in Denver immediately.

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, tailgate badge - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAs the 1990s progressed, it became clear to vehicle manufacturers who did business in North America that they had to sell luxury commuter trucks over here if they wanted to rake in the big dollars, yen, kroner, won, pounds, Deutsche marks, or (after 1995) Euros. Nissan and Toyota were in the game, but Honda had to turn to Isuzu for some help until the MDX was ready.

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, owner's manual - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere are few Junkyard Finds I like better than a weird and rare exercise in badge engineering. I pursued the elusive Isuzu Oasis for years before finding one, and the Saab 9-2x took even longer. No luck yet on a junked Suzuki Equator, I’m sad to say, but an Acura-badged Isuzu Trooper is nearly as rare.

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, front seat - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAmericans had been buying rebadged Isuzu hardware for decades when the SLX appeared, with plenty of Isuzu-powered “Buick Opels” and Chevrolet Chevettes rolling out of showrooms, not to mention the Chevrolet LUV, Chevrolet/Geo Spectrum, and Geo Storm.

1999 Acura SLX in Colorado wrecking yard, driver seat - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBut an Isuzu-made luxury SUV with Acura badges just didn’t seem very appealing to American truck shoppers, and total sales didn’t even crack the 10,000 mark. The SLX was available for the 1996 through 1999 model years, so this is one of the last ones sold.


It’s a road not found on any map. It’s the first gentle tug on your fishing line. It’s a moonroof large enough to capture the sky over Yosemite. And, oh yeah, it’s really an Isuzu!


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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1999 Acura SLX...”


  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Surprised they sold any of these, as they were barely acceptable as Isuzus. Not a bright moment in the history of Acura.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Surprised they sold any of these, as they were barely acceptable as Isuzus. Not a bright moment in the history of Acura.

  • avatar

    only thing I remember about these is when I worked at the parts stores, our computer catalogs weren’t updated yet, so I had to look them up as Isuzu and pissed of more than a few customers. A couple of them sheepishly came back and said that they didn’t know that it was an Isuzu (a nice looking one at that) and thought it was a Honda.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    The car the Vauxhall Monterey could’ve been…

  • avatar
    luxrage

    I knew a woman who drove a model similar to this one and always thought they were quite handsome looking (the truck, not the woman). I definitely long for more vehicles to return to using the two tone [COLOR] on light gold paint jobs you used to see on higher trim vehicles.

  • avatar
    gtem

    It seems that a lot of these left the roads in the last 7 years or so. I always used to see a ton of cheap used ones in decent condition, but I think they depreciated down to the point of when the 4L30E inevitably croaks, most end up getting scrapped. Aside from that inappropriately spec’d automatic transmission (should have been a 4L60E or else avoid GM autos altogether and go the Aisin route), I think they are spectacular SUVs, way more overbuilt than most people realize. They also had an unfortunate oil-burning condition on the later DOHC motors. Find a stick shift model from the mid-late 90s with the earlier SOHC 3.2L and you’ve got a tank of an old SUV. Having said all of that, a late 90s Mitsubishi Montero (fullsize, not sport) does everything the Trooper does, better (but they are even harder to find). Same applies to a 4Runner, although you end up with a compromised seating position with less headroom and will pay more for it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      You have mentioned exactly what I came here to say, the GM-sourced transmission was likely the reason many of these ended up junked.

      As far as the above comment of the basic vehicle being “barely acceptable as an Isuzu”, I disagree. They were competent off-road, aren’t ugly and have good reliability aside from the GM transmission. I found a manual version the other day, I’d love to have it.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        https://austin.craigslist.org/cto/d/isuzu-trooper-4×4/6728914102.html

        Would be a neat project. I have seen exactly one swb two door of this generation, that would be awesome.

        I really liked my first gen Trooper. I’d have another in a minute.

        Speaking of a first gen, found a diesel version too:

        https://easttexas.craigslist.org/cto/d/isuzu-trooper-diesel-4×4/6739478905.html

        • 0 avatar
          acmoney

          I miss my 1995 Trooper LS 4×4 with the 3.2 SOHC. Honestly it got too complicated to repair, the transmission wouldn’t shift into 4th and no one wanted to work on it, parts were difficult to find, and alarm-related electrical gremlims started. That being said it was a great design and perfectly sized for the trail and cargo. I loved thoughtful touches like power folding mirrors and hard back rear seats (made moving items without stuff getting stuck on upholstered rear seats. Sometimes I long for the simplicity of the mid-90s…

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Older off-beat Japanese stuff often ends up that way. I passed my ’98 MPV Allsport back to my folks after daily driving it for a few years, rust was taking its toll and replacement parts were pricey and hard-ish to find. Compared to something like an Explorer or my current 4Runner, the MPV was just not a sustainable old car to keep running.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It may be a “a weird and rare exercise in badge engineering”, but hardly a week goes by that I don’t see one still running around, so I guess they did something right to still have some on the road

  • avatar
    redapple

    Rented the Trooper once in Salt lake.
    1 week. 1200 Miles.

    Came away liking the truck.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I have a cousin who bought one of these new and put about 140K miles on it with very few issues. Ironically, it was the first Acura that he liked and felt it was a step up in most ways from his previous 2 Monteros, which both started smoking at a young age and felt very agricultural, but were otherwise reliable I don’t remember what year they were, but they were both V6’s. When he was ready to replace it, he tried the MDX, expecting it to feel like a new improved SLX and ended up buying a Lexus GX instead. He still has the GX. He is not a hardcore off-roader, but he does a lot of hiking/camping trips all over the US and does need a fair amount of off-road capability, mostly ground clearance, real 4 wheel drive and reliability, along with the ability to have it act like a billy goat going up and down steep trails – so a two speed transfer case is almost a requirement.

    I don’t know why he never considered a regular trooper.

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    Always wondered what the inside of the drivers door looked like.

  • avatar
    mjg82

    Congrats, it’s been a long time since I’ve been introduced to a car I’ve never heard of. I’d heard of the Passport and the Oasis but this is pretty wild.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I bet you have probably seen them before, but didn’t notice the Acura badge. Its easy for your mind to dismiss it as something you’re familiar with if you don’t know there is a rare version to spot in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        mjg82

        Possibly but I’m in Canada. I had a good eye for stuff like this, used to watch out for stuff like this when we’d cross the border. Things we didn’t get like the Mazda version of the Explorer or the last gen Malibu bodied Cutlass always stood out

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It doesn’t say in the article, but judging from that front seat this has a ton of miles on it

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I remember a college buddy’s SOHC Trooper. What a tough vehicle, I think his had close to 200k on it before he upgraded.

  • avatar
    MrAnnoyingDude

    In the style of ol’ Crabspirits’ Last Rides:

    Pedro was quite new in America. While he was doing some things like all the other construction workers, like grabbing some fast food off a food truck for lunch, his Acura stood out among the Super Duties, Rams and Silverados of the workers’ lot.

    Still, it was a trusty steed, despite all the 19 years’ worth of wear. It was about to be another day for Pedro and his old Isuzu… erm, Acura, he had had since he earned his first paycheck.

    It was another day. Pedro was rolling along in his car, listening to the radio, when something ended up being louder than it. And it wasn’t a good thing…

    “SLAP-SLAP-SLAP-SLAP-SLAP” went the Acura.

    It had to happen someday, but why today? Pedro’s mind raced – he could not afford being late again. Maybe just dump this hijo de puto on the roadside?

    Fortunately, the Acura made it. But when on the parking lot, Pedro looked at the fullsize trucks. They were more comfortable, had better equipment, were safer and didn’t look like they were at the end of their road…

    And such things weren’t only there. Every time Pedro opened Craigslist’s “For sale” section, or drove near an used car lot, they attacked his eyes with their low down payments and easy credit.
    “FINANCE ONLINE”
    “YOU WORK YOU DRIVE”
    “SE HABLA ESPANOL”

    The Acura was OK. But it wasn’t that good.

    (I’m not American, so there might be mistakes)

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    My 2001 Trooper (the donor vehicle for the SLX) is still running after 17 years and 250k+ miles; whereas I love the sight lines and overall competence, I don’t see it as anywhere near a luxury vehicle. For grins I put the Acura grille on it after the deer strike repair.

    I could see how the Trooper/SLX gets junked if the transmission failed – it is the car’s glass jaw and expensive to fix (French-made GM tranny shared with BMW….it’s like repair bingo or something). I’m carefully nursing my third transmission….

  • avatar
    Garak

    Didn’t the Isuzu Trooper have some kind of a (probably overblown) rollover scandal back in the day?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      They did! When the redesigned Trooper was released in ’92, it was a huge upgrade from the Trooper II in length, width, seating and cargo capacity, and civil amenities (um, there was no Trooper I. And the new one wasn’t called Trooper III. Silly Isuzu….).

      CR put it through its paces and their Trooper flipped during the accident avoidance part. It was something they (nor anyone else) could replicate but that was enough to earn the dreaded Do-Not-Buy label. After sales sputtered, by the 1998 refresh Isuzu had widened the front & rear tracks slightly (those are the models with the fender wheel-well trim blisters) and added bigger tires.

      Personally I know my Trooper isn’t a sports car – it’s heavy, lumbering, and has numb steering, with heavy leaning in the corners. I can’t imagine carving canyons with it.

  • avatar

    I am a fan of the SLX. I like that it’s pretending, and I like the Trooper upon which it’s based. You really don’t find them that often in either case, and when someone has a clean Trooper for sale, they ask too much money for it.

    The utility of the shape and the styling appeals to me. I think it’s really aged very well, and I like the simplicity of the interior. Some research showed me that the top trim Trooper Limited was actually priced above the SLX – though perhaps this was some internet inaccuracy.

    Bonus points for the enormous sunroof, two-tone paint, special SLX wheels in this case, and very early implementation of an LED CHMSL strip.

    I think Isuzu had a misstep in not offering it with a third row seat like in pretty much all other markets. That would’ve added appeal, and put it more on par with things like a loaded Montero, or a Discovery. Alternatively, giving that option only to the SLX would’ve made it stand out, and surely increased sales. I have seen *one* for sale on eBay with a factory third row seat, and it was a US example. I’m not sure how that happened, but I wish I saved the photos.

  • avatar
    Tyson

    And after a decade of secretly lusting after one of these, I bought one last week to play around with. 1997 base model, “Fir Green Mica,” what a hoot. 178,000 miles with a slipping transmission and that classic top-heavy handling.

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