Steer clear of Lexus SUV

At a time when Toyota Motor Corp.
is trying to regain consumer confidence following a series of large recalls and
federal probes into safety defects, Consumer Reports is warning shoppers not to
purchase one of the company’s upscale Lexus models because of a rollover risk.
The magazine, which for years has recommended most Toyota vehicles, said the
Lexus GX 460 SUV failed a key emergency-handling test and issued a rare
“Don’t Buy” warning.
Consumer Reports said that it testing staff found that “when pushed to its
limits on a handling course” on the magazine’s test track, the rear of the
Lexus GX “slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways” before the
vehicles electronic stability control system was able to regain control.

The magazine said such a situation
could happen in “real-world driving” and that it could lead to a rollover
accident.
The phenomenon, known as “lift-off oversteer” could occur “when
a driver enters a highway’s exit ramp or drives through a sweeping turn and
encounters an unexpected obstacle or suddenly finds that the turn is too tight
for the vehicle’s speed,” Consumer Reports said.
Consumer Reports contacted Toyota and was told in an e-mail response that the
automaker was “mystified by the results of Consumer Reports testing on the
Lexus GX 460.”
After the magazine issued its do not buy warning, Toyota posted a statement on
its website saying that it was “concerned with the results of Consumer Reports
testing on the Lexus GX 460 and their suggested buyer recommendation.”
Toyota said its engineers conducts similar tests and believes “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.”
The automaker said that the vehicle “meets or exceeds all federal government
testing requirements.”
The magazine said it
has reported its concerns to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
The GX 460 has been on sale for about three months and about 5,000 vehicles
have been sold, according to Consumer Reports. The magazine said it is not
aware of any injuries or accidents resulting from the alleged flaw.

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