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Japanese Stop Sales of 2010 Lexus GX460

Consumer Reports slams new SUV, saying it’s rollover prone.

by on Apr.13, 2010

More serious safety questions are now raised at Toyota's luxury division.

The Japan-based leadership of beleaguered Toyota Motor Sales late today gave an American sales executive permission to suspend sales of the new 2010 Lexus GX460 model. Another  safety recall or service action is now a distinct possibility.

The latest crisis at Toyota came after Consumer Reports issued a safety warning earlier.

Consumer Reports, a long time proponent – critics say cheerleader – of Toyota’s quality,  issued a rare “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” recommendation. (See Consumers Union Defends Role in Missing Toyota Unintended Acceleration Problems and Deaths)

The last time Consumer Reports issued a “Don’t Buy” was for the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited.

The Lexus GX460, the magazine claimed, was the worst, in terms of rollover potential among the 95 SUVs in its current automotive ratings.

The problem, apparently, concerns “trailing throttle oversteer,” or the tendency of the Lexus to have the rear end swing wide in a turn if the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal. This points the front of the SUV toward the inside of the turn. Uncorrected by either the driver or electronic controls, the SUV could hit the curb, creating a trip rollover.

As Consumer Report describes it, the electronic stability (yaw control) system of the Lexus does not intervene quickly enough, exactly the opposite calibration issue that Toyota engineering faced with the now  recalled regenerative braking system of the 2010 Prius. In that instance, the electronic controls were too aggressive in its application. Either way, Toyota’s ability to integrate electronics into its vehicles is once again called into question. And another safety recall or service action looms.

Consumer Reports said it validated its rollover warning by testing two Lexus GX460 models, with each repeating the problem, though neither rolled over. The magazine hedged, though, saying that it is not aware of any specific reports of GX rollovers in the real world.


Consumer Reports Issues Rare “Don’t Buy” on Lexus GX460

Warns of rollover risk; gives another black eye to Toyota.

by on Apr.13, 2010

The Lexus GX460 has received an extremely rare "Don't Buy" warning from the influential Consumer Reports magazine.

The influential Consumer Reports magazine has issued an extremely rare “Don’t Buy” warning on the new Lexus GX460 sport-utility vehicle, noting that the luxury SUV could be prone to rolling over.

The warning is rare enough for the magazine but even more so for Lexus and its sibling Toyota and Scion brands, which have routinely received “Best Buy” ratings from the non-profit organization.  The news thus comes as another black eye for the Japanese maker which, as has reported, is facing a record $16.4 million fine from the government for allegedly hiding information about safety defects.

Consumer Reports noted that during handling tests performed on the Lexus GX460 the vehicle was prone to become unstable under certain circumstances.

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Specifically, a test driver approaches a turn too fast and releases the accelerator pedal, something real world motorists are prone to do.  This normally will lead the rear of a vehicle to slide.  But on other vehicles, the stability control system kicks in and helps keep the vehicle under control.  With the GX460, however, that didn’t happen in time, leading to a rollover risk.