A popular consumer products magazine is urging consumers to pass on the Lexus GX 460, a full-size luxury SUV that was recently redesigned for the 2010 model year. The vehicle was deemed unsafe after the editors at Consumer Reports experienced a loss of control during an emergency handling test.
"When pushed to its limits on our track's handling course, the rear of the GX we bought slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control," the magazine said on its website. "We believe that in real-world driving, that situation could lead to a rollover accident, which could cause serious injury or death. We are not aware, however, of any such reports."
While the GX comes standard with electronic stability control -- a system that's designed to apply braking and cut the throttle to prevent cars from skidding out of control -- Consumer Reports found the system didn't engage quickly enough. In the video seen below, the SUV starts to fishtail widely before it comes back under control.
The magazine gives the advice of "Don't Buy," something they haven't done since they tested the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited. They've provided their feedback on the model to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as Toyota Motor America. To date no injuries or deaths have been reported and no complaints have been filed to NHTSA on the 2010 Lexus GX 460.
While Toyota feels confident that their product is safe, they said they would further investigate the magazine's claims.
"We're concerned with the results of Consumer Reports testing on the Lexus GX 460 and their suggested buyer recommendation," said Toyota spokesperson Mona Richard via email to AOL Autos. "Our engineers conduct similar tests and we feel these procedures provide a good indication of how our vehicles will perform in the real-world; however, we will try to duplicate the Consumer Reports' test to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken. Please keep in mind that the 2010 GX 460 meets or exceeds all federal government testing requirements. Customer safety and satisfaction remain our highest priorities. We take the Consumer Reports test results seriously and appreciate Consumer Reports bringing it to our attention."
The magazine's pronouncement is yet another safety concern for buyers as they approach Toyota products. While the company saw a major spike in March sales -- up 41% from the same month in 2009 -- they did so with heavy incentives. Lexus sold 1,785 GX models in March, up some 200% from one year ago.
"While the Lexus GX is a luxury vehicle, Consumer Reports' judgment against it -- especially for the reason cited -- stands to be very damaging to a company that's already reeling from other safety-related issues," said Chris Paukert, Executive Editor of Autoblog.com. "Vehicles and the companies who build them have been permanently scarred over increased rollover risks -– everything from the Suzuki Samurai to the Ford Explorer have seen their sales plummet after being branded rollover-prone, and their sales never recover. While the GX isn't a big-volume seller in the way that many other Toyota and Lexus models are, it is a brand-new model for 2010, and that has to be particularly worrisome to the automaker."
Consumer Reports said the fishtailing occurred when their test driver lifted his foot from the accelerator while turning, a phenomenon known as lift-off oversteer. To prevent lift-off oversteer, gently remove your foot from the accelerator, straighten the vehicle out as best you can with the steering wheel and apply the brake.