Toyota To Test Stability Control System in Full SUV Lineup
Toyota is working overtime on rectifying stability control issues on the Lexus GX 460 SUV, but analysts suggest the issue -- coupled with the "don't buy" title issued by Consumer Reports -- may further tarnish Lexus' brand reputation image.
Lexus announced yesterday that it had stopped selling its all-new 2010 GX 460, after Consumer Reports found the SUV exhibited some curious handling traits. According to the publication, the GX is prone to lift-throttle oversteer, and its stability control system is far too slow to correct the vehicle's attitude.
On the grounds that this could initiate a rollover accident, Consumer Reports labeled the vehicle as a safety risk, and gave the GX a "don't buy" recommendation. Analysts fear that this may damage Lexus' reputation with consumers.
"No one is going to purchase a car that has a 'don't buy' rating," Koji Endo, managing director of Advanced Research Japan, told Automotive News. "Worse yet, this will deal a severe blow to the entire Lexus lineup."
"Buyers who see the Consumer Reports' rating may perceive this as a problem across all Lexus models," said Tadashi Ushi, an analyst at Moody's. "In that case, because of Lexus' high margins, we'll see an impact more on profit than on sales."
Toyota, however, is quickly jumping on the issue. After acknowledging Consumer Reports' findings shortly after the magazine published its findings on Tuesday, the automaker revealed it had halted sales of the SUV until it could rectify the flaw. Yesterday, Toyota announced it was investigating the calibration of the GX's stability control system, but officials revealed today that stability control systems on all current Toyota and Lexus SUV models would be examined as well.
"The foremost reason for doing the extra tests is to put customers minds at ease," corporate spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi told Reuters.
Lexus has promised GX 460 owners -- roughly 5000 thus far --that they will be provided with an alternative loaner vehicle until the issue has been fixed. 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).