Of course, the real news is what we discovered on the skidpad and in the real world. Is there a real problem with this Lexus? Should the GX 460 be relegated to the SUV category in the 2010 Formula Drift series?
Yes and no.
Around our figure-eight course, the GX logged a respectable 0.74 g (avg) and a time of 28.3 sec @ 0.58 g. Those are competitive numbers for luxury SUVs in this class, but more telling is what our road testers had to say regarding the GX460's behavior at its handling limits:
"Braking and then turning into the first left-hand corner of the figure-eight test, I was startled with how out of shape the GX became," says technical editor Kim Reynolds. "Yes, the car's stability control was switched off (as we typically do for this test), but, yikes, the Lexus was slewing crazily. My first thought was -- 'Hey, this is kinda fun." My second thought was '...but, wow, this shouldn't be in the hands of a general consumer'. My third thought was to have road test editor Scott Mortara try this too (he did, and agreed with me)."
It's worth repeating that Reynolds induced the tail-out behavior during our figure-eight test only with the stability control switched off. That is because we do not perform any of our handling (or braking or acceleration) tests with ESC turned on, as the systems typically intervene well before the limits are reached. As an enthusiast publication, we're interested in finding those limits.
Consumer Reports identified the oversteer issues with ESC turned on, which are test conditions we do not replicate. That doesn't mean they are invalid, and Toyota/Lexus found CR's findings serious enough to warrant a full recall and stop sale.