• Acura SH-SLX RADwood

Acura Stuffs RDX Powertrain Into ‘90s SUV ... Because RADwood

Acura is an ‘80s kid, so RADwood is a perfect event for us to display our heritage.

Matthew Guy By: Matthew Guy December 5, 2019

Who says you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Back in 1996 the SLX was Acura’s hurried response to the then-booming luxury SUV market. In a shotgun wedding with Isuzu, the companies traded more than a few models with which to install their badges. Acura turned the Trooper into its SLX, while Isuzu rebranded the Odyssey van as an Oasis. The latter is a great example of something being rare but not valuable.

Still, the Trooper and SLX have a certain square-jawed charm, so your author was pleased to learn Acura spent untold dollars stuffing the powertrain from a modern RDX into the boxy old-school ute. That’s right – under the hood of this seemingly stock utility is a 2.0L turbocharged four cranking out 350 horsepower funneled through a ten-speed automatic. Taking this thing to the nth degree is the inclusion of the company’s torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive.

And guess what? They’re bringing the thing to RADwood.

“Acura is an ‘80s kid, so RADwood is a perfect event for us to display our heritage,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. “Nostalgia for ‘80s and ‘90s vehicles has grown tremendously, and we’re seeing them start to become really collectable. RADwood is always packed with a lot of fun and interesting stuff, so we knew we would have to bring something a little crazy to the table.”

Acura SH-SLX RADwood

Acura SH-SLX RADwood

To maintain its ‘90s charm, minimal changes were made to the exterior and interior. The original two-tone paint scheme of Fir Green Metallic was updated to Performance Red Pearl with Champagne Silver. The original wheels and tires were swapped out for 17-inch wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander A/Ts. Completing the exterior upgrades are a body-color hard shell spare tire cover that replaces the original vinyl cover. Eagle-eyed observers will notice the SH-AWD badge on the tailgate and a track measuring five inches wider.

Inside, there are seats reupholstered in Milano leather and grey wood applique on the door panels and dash. Unmentioned in the bumf but obvious to anyone with eyes is the replacement of the old gearshift with Acura’s new electronic setup (plus a push-button start) and an aftermarket screen to keep tabs on engine vitals. The rest of the interior is a fantastic time warp back to 1996.

If you think this was a task to accomplish, you’re exactly right. “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.”

How much did all this cost? Acura lists the MSRP as “Don’t even ask.” Alright, then.