Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. today announced it would conduct a voluntary safety recall on approximately 9,400 2010-model year Lexus GX 460 sport utility vehicles in order to reprogram the software of the so-called Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system.
Concurrently, Toyota Motor Europe announced it would recall of 7,500 Toyota Land Cruiser 150 (Prado) and Lexus GX 460 models, also to reprogram VSC software to improve its “responsiveness.”
The affected vehicles in Europe are only left-hand drive versions. The voluntary recall includes the Toyota Land Cruiser 150, available across Europe, and the Lexus GX 460, which is only available in certain Eastern European markets.
The latest recalls were virtually assured once Consumer Reports – a long time proponent (critics say cheerleader) of Toyota’s engineering and quality issued an almost unheard of “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” recommendation against the Lexus GX 460 in its April issue.
The magazine claimed the GX 460 was the worst, in terms of rollover potential, among the 95 SUVs in its current automotive ratings.
Rollovers used to be a serious safety problem among sport utility vehicles, but electronic controls, along with an epidemic of more than 5,000 “distracted driving” fatalities annually have made it less deadly, relatively speaking.
The VSC problem 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. Oversteer can also lead to a spin. (See Japanese Stop Sales of 2010 Lexus GX460 )
“Our engineers have conducted tests to confirm the VSC performance issue raised by Consumer Reports, and we are confident this VSC software update addresses the concern,” said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America, without offering any explanation about how the calibration of a critical electronic control system could have been released if it is so ineffective.