Toyota has announced the suspension in US sales of one of its luxury vehicles, the 2010 Lexus GX 460, after Consumer Reports magazine has labeled it a “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk.”
The suspension comes after the consumer organization warned potential customers on Tuesday not to purchase the four-wheel drive vehicle because of potential roll-overs. Toyota withdrew sales of the SUV within hours of the warning.
"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 Consumer Reports warning said.
"We believe that in real-world driving, that situation could lead to a rollover accident, which could cause serious injury or death," the report added.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement on Tuesday stating it was in contact with both Lexus and Consumer Reports. To date, the agency has no record of consumer complaints regarding the vehicle, but has urged its owners “to use care and caution.”
According to The New York Times, Lexus has sold 4,787 of the vehicles in question during this year’s first quarter. Although Toyota has not yet issued a recall, it is providing loaner cars to any of the vehicles’ concerned customers until the issue is resolved.
In response to the warning, Toyota said in a statement: “We are taking the situation with the GX 460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified. At this time we have asked our dealers to temporarily suspend sales of the 2010 GX 460.
“Our engineering teams are vigorously testing the GX using Consumer Reports’ specific parameters to identify how we can make the GX’s performance even better,” Toyota added.
The GX 460 is yet another issue on the public relations nightmare list Toyota is currently dealing with. Its Prius’ brakes and unintended acceleration issues are at the top of that list. The company is facing a $16.4 million fine by the US government for failure to respond in a timely manner to safety investigators.
Consumer Reports conducted tests on the GX 460 at its East Haddam, Conn. test track. Four drivers for the magazine tested the vehicle in separate tests, without being allowed to observe each other or compare test notes. In a later meeting, they each discovered similar problems in vehicle performance.
The magazine’s last such warning regarding unacceptable performance of a vehicle was Mitusbishi’s 2001 Montero Limited.