As if Toyota didn't have enough bad news on its hands lately, the consumer testing magazine Consumer Reports has just slapped its troubling "safety risk" label on the new 2010 Lexus GX 460 after reportedly finding fault with its handling characteristics.
During the course of track testing the GX, Consumer Reports' engineers placed the SUV through a series of emergency handling maneuvers -- one of which involves lifting off the throttle in the middle of a high-speed corner to test for lift-throttle oversteer.
According to the publication, such a maneuver caused the GX to swing its tail out in a prolonged drift. Although the truck is equipped with a stability control system as standard equipment, testers found the system took far too long to regain control over the SUV.
"When pushed to its limits on our track's handling course," read a CR statement, "the rear of the GX we bought slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability program was able to regain control.
"The rear could slide around far enough that a wheel could strike a curb or slide off the pavement. Either of those scenarios can cause a vehicle to roll over. That situation could cause serious injury or death. We are not aware, however, of any such reports."
After witnessing the handling characteristics with its first GX, the publication purchased another 2010 GX 460, and was reportedly able to replicate the same handling characteristics on the second vehicle. Interestingly, CR notes that "no other SUV in recent years" -- including the new 2010 Toyota 4Runner, which shares its underpinnings with the revised GX -- "slid out as far as the GX" during the test.
Consumer Reports has informed both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota Motor Sales North America about the findings. Although it drew criticism for dragging its feet on issues related to its recent accelerator pedal recalls, Toyota is moving quickly to investigate this new issue.
"We're concerned with the results of Consumer Reports testing on the Lexus GX 460 and their suggested buyer recommendation," Toyota said in a statement issued this morning. "Our engineers conduct similar tests and we feel these procedures provide a good indication of how our vehicles will perform in the real-world.
"However, we will try to duplicate the test to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken. We take the Consumer Reports' test results seriously and appreciate Consumer Reports bringing it to our attention."
Toyota does note that the 2010 GX 460 does meet or exceed all federal government testing requirements. Customers who have any questions or concerns are free to speak with Lexus' Customer Satisfaction hotline, which is accessible at 1-800-25-LEXUS (1-800-255-3987).