Consumer Reports on Lexus SUV: Don't buy it
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Consumer Reports says that during routine handling tests, the Lexus SUV exhibited handling problems that could lead to a rollover and that the vehicle should not be purchased until Toyota fixes the problem.
The problem is a sliding rear end in turns when drivers take their foot off the gas, Consumer Reports says. In handling tests, the SUV's rear end slid nearly sideways before its electronic stability system kicked in. In extreme conditions, this could lead to a rollover, the magazine said.
An example: Say a driver is exiting the interstate onto a curving off-ramp and he takes his foot off the gas to avoid an obstacle. This could cause the SUV's rear end to begin sliding sideways and end in a rollover.
Toyota said it takes Consumer Reports testing seriously and will try to duplicate the results on its own. "Please keep in mind that the 2010 GX 460 meets or exceeds all federal government testing requirements," the company said in a statement.
The $52,000 GX 460 is a high-end, small-volume vehicle for Toyota. It was introduced in November and has sold only about 5,000 units. (The Lexus in the photo is a 2009 GX 470.)
The last Consumer Reports "don't buy" rating was issued to the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited for a susceptibility to rollover.
If Toyota deems the Lexus to have a handling problem, fixing it could be a simple matter of adjusting the vehicle's electronic stability system. Every modern vehicle has an electronic stability system made up of sensors that monitor the vehicle's wheels, including speed, traction and so forth, multiple times every second. It sends the data to the vehicle's computers, which in turn send more or less power to the wheels to increase the vehicle's stability in driving conditions. Perhaps the Lexus SUV's electronic stability system needs to be "tightened up" to kick in sooner in this particular driving condition.
Vehicle stability monitoring and control may be the most important modern innovation in the auto industry, as it makes cars much safer and adjusts to driving conditions faster than drivers could.
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April 13, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
| Tags: Automobile, Consumer Reports, Lexus, Lexus GX, Recreation, Rollover, Sport utility vehicle, Toyota
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