1998 Acura SLX -- Chassis

The Acura SLX is equipped with a fully independent double-wishbone suspension system in front, and a multi-link/live-axle configuration at the rear. Solid steel stabilizer bars are used at both the front and the rear. The SLX is also equipped with ventilated disc brakes and a standard Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) at all four wheels. Steering is accomplished by a recirculating ball variable-assist power steering system, selected for its ability to insulate the driver from harshness and kickback during off-road driving. The overall goal in suspension design and tuning was to provide smooth, compliant and highly controllable handling over uneven terrain, while retaining the fluid ride and crisp highway response of a sports sedan.

The front wheels are located by unequal-length upper and lower control arms; wheel travel is a generous 7.5 inches. The suspension geometry is optimized to precisely control wheel chamber through the full range of travel, for excellent overall handling and control under braking. Springing is accomplished by longitudinal torsion bars, chosen because of their compact layout and lower center of mass. These are connected to the lower control arms. Twin-tube hydraulic shock absorbers, tuned for both highway and off-highway use, are used at each wheel.

The rear solid axle is located by a four-member multi-link system. Two tubular trailing links maintain axle position under acceleration and braking. A tubular, longitudinal center link connects to the top of the axle housing; its primary function is to resist rotational forces imparted to the axle under acceleration and braking. And a long lateral rod provides added lateral stability and precise alignment under cornering loads and over rough roads. Coil springs and tubular hydraulic shock absorbers deliver a smooth, yet responsive ride. Rear wheel travel is a full 7.5 inches.

Power-assisted four-wheel ventilated disc brakes are standard. Ventilated discs are used to withstand the rigors of rough off-highway use, as well as the high thermal loads encountered when towing heavy boats or trailers. Front discs are 11.0" in diameter; rear discs are 12.3" across; the rear discs are larger to accommodate a drum-type emergency brake within.

A three-channel, four-wheel ABS system is standard on the SLX. Designed to work in both 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive, the ABS system enhances steering control during hard braking. Speed sensors at each wheel send signals to the ABS control module. If the system detects impending wheel lockup, it first holds, then reduces hydraulic pressure to the affected wheel, letting the wheel regain traction before full braking resumes. The ABS function is also effective on split-friction surfaces, in which one side of the vehicle has significantly less traction than the other. In the highly unlikely event of an ABS failure, a warning light appears on the dashboard. In such a case, the control module cancels the ABS function, allowing the standard braking system to operate normally. For 1998, the system has been further refined to enhance braking performance.

To reduce unsprung weight and enhance handling precision, the SLX is equipped with 7.0JJ x 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels. The wheels have a new six-spoke design with a machined finish. Tires are P245/70R16 tubeless mud-and-snow rated All Season radials. The tires were specifically designed for the vehicle, with a highway tread design which offers low rolling resistance, quiet operation, high mileage performance and excellent off-road traction. A matching full-size spare tire and wheel comes mounted to the rear door.

For optimum protection of vital powertrain and chassis components during rough off-road use, the SLX is equipped with four different skid plates. These guard the transfer case, the shift-on-the-fly mechanism, the fuel tank and the radiator from rocks and other obstacles. The SLX skid plates and under-chassis design offers significantly better component protection than many of its SUV competitors.

The Acura SLX is built on a separate box-section steel ladder-type frame, with seven cross members for optimum rigidity and durability. All exterior body panels are stamped from 100% double-coated galvanized steel, for excellent long-term corrosion resistance. Exterior panels are coated with a nine-step paint and coating process, which includes a zinc-phosphate coating on both the inner and outer surface of each panel.

Unlike many other SUVs which use open, "U" channel frame members, the SLX frame rails are completely enclosed. This makes the frame stronger and much more rigid, in both bending and torsion, and also aids in corrosion resistance. Designed-in "crumple zones" are configured to help absorb energy in severe front and rear impacts, helping to protect the rigid passenger cabin from distortion. In all, the structure of the SLX is designed to be the basis of a rugged, durable and highly secure on- and off-highway vehicle.

To isolate the body and interior from road noise, vibration and harshness, specially tuned isolation bushings are used between the frame and the stamped-steel body structure. These bushings, used in 14 different locations, are designed to react in both tension and compression, helping to damp out unwanted noise and vibration.

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