By the second half of the 1990s, the tremendous sales success of the Ford Explorer (introduced as a 1991 model) and Jeep Grand Cherokee (introduced as a 1993 model) had made it clear clear that the future of the American road would be trucks. Any automotive manufacturer not selling a full line of SUV-ish machinery here would be irrelevant soon after the dawn of the new century, and the car-and-bike-centric American Honda Motor Company was therefore in big trouble. The Civic could be used as the basis for a small crossover SUV (which debuted here as the 1997 Honda CR-V), but Honda needed to buy time to design and produce the platform that would underpin the 2001 Acura MDX and 2003 Honda Pilot. That time was purchased via a deal to sell rebadged Isuzu trucks as Hondas and Acuras. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those Honda-ized Isuzus, found in a Colorado boneyard.
Honda began selling the Isuzu Rodeo as the Passport (recycling the name they’d used on the U.S.-market Super Cub motorcycle) for the 1994 model year, and Acura dealers started moving SLX-badged Isuzu Troopers in the 1997 model year. Just to make things interesting in the Isuzu-Honda world, North American Isuzu dealers sold Honda Odysseys with Isuzu Oasis badges at the same time.
Isuzu had gone all-truck for the American market after the last Styluses (and closely related Geo Storms) were sold here as 1993 models. Sadly, Isuzu’s final (non-commercial) new vehicles sold here were rebadged Chevy Trailblazers and Colorados, more than 30 years after Chevrolet began selling Isuzu Faster pickups here with LUV badges.
Honda never did build any body-on-frame trucks, but that proved unnecessary in order to make some money during the CUV/SUV era. The SLX never sold particularly well, but it gave Acura dealers a luxury truck to park next to the Integras, TLs, RLs, CLs and NSXs in their showrooms.
After 1999, the SLX was gone, leaving just the 2000 model year as a blank spot for Acura-badged SUVs.
This truck held together like a real Honda product, getting fairly close to the 300,000-mile mark (I’ve found junkyard Accords with better than a half-million miles on their odometers, plus one apiece Civic and CR-V that got past 400,000 miles during their lives).
The original owner’s manuals were still in the glovebox when I found this truck.
At the end, it appears that it was towed away for being parked illegally. Maybe the engine or transmission failed and its final owner just walked away.
The 1997 SLX got Isuzu’s 3.2-liter V6, rated at 190 horsepower. For 1998 and 1999, a DOHC version of this engine made 205 horses.
American buyers could buy ’97 Troopers with manual transmissions, but its SLX sibling came with a mandatory four-speed automatic.
Try that in your Integra!
The MSRP on the 1997 Isuzu Trooper Limited 4WD was $37,990 (about $72,993 in 2023 dollars). Its Acura SLX Premium sibling was just a bit more, at $38,300 ($73,589 in today’s money).