Consumer Reports revoked its “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” designation from the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV this morning, saying that recall work corrected the problem it displayed in one of its emergency handling tests. (See Japanese Stop Sales of 2010 Lexus GX460)
CR is not really endorsing the Lexus though, continuing a recent trend of distancing itself from Toyota products after years of automatically endorsing them. CR says that with the fix, the GX 460’s handling is ultimately okay, but is “still ponderous and ungainly, as is common with traditional body-on-frame SUVs.” (See also Consumers Union Defends Role in Missing Toyota Unintended Acceleration Problems and Deaths)
CR’s testers originally experienced the problem in a test that they use to evaluate what’s known in automotive engineering terms as trailing throttle oversteer, which is the precursor to a spin.
In the CR test as the vehicle is driven through a turn, the driver quickly lifts her foot off the accelerator pedal. When testers did this with a GX 460, its rear end slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways.
Even though the GX 460 has electronic stability control, which is designed to prevent a vehicle from sliding, the system in CR’s view was not intervening quickly enough to stop the slide. CR says this is a safety risk because in a real-world situation this could cause a rear tire to strike a curb or slide off the pavement, possibly causing the vehicle to roll over. Tall vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as the GX 460, heighten CR’s concern. CR is not aware, however, of any reports of injury related to this problem.