Toyota takes another hit with Lexus GX 460 Consumer Reports test

SUV rollover

Reconsider the Lexus GX 460, which Consumer Reports found prone to rollovers like this one

The Lexus GX 460 earned a rare “don’t buy” warning from Consumer Reports following performance testing by the magazine. If you thought about getting auto financing to buy one, bear in mind that the tests exposed a handling problem with the Lexus GX 460 that may cause a rollover of the SUV in everyday driving. The Consumer Reports test of the Lexus GX 460 is the latest black mark to Toyota Motor Corp’s battered reputation that began last year with braking and unintended acceleration problems.

Lexus GX 460 earns Toyota a rare rebuke

The Lexus GX 460’s stability problems became evident when the rear of the vehicle broke away during what David Champion, the senior director of the Consumer Reports auto test division, said were “unusual turns.” The Lexus GX 460 skidded sideways through the turn before the SUV’s electronic stability control engaged. In an interview with the New York Times, Champion said “This is the first time we have seen it in an SUV with ESC,” referring to electronic stability control. Consumer Reports said it was “rare” for the magazine to “judge a vehicle’s performance not acceptable.” The last instance was with the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited in 2001.

Lexux GX 460 unsafe in everyday driving

The Lexus GX 460 rollover potential goes beyond the test track. Mr. Champion told the New York Times that the Lexus GX 460 electronic stability control could fail in everyday driving. For example, speeding through a sharp curve on a highway off-ramp. The Lexus GX 460, with a high center of gravity, could easily roll hitting a curb or soft shoulder. “I wouldn’t want anyone else in it,” Champion said.

Dozens of SUVs safer than the Lexus GX 460

When it comes to committing to an auto loan for your next SUV, there are plenty of safe choices. Consumer Reports tested dozens of SUVs in addition to the Lexus GX 460. To cause what consumer Reports calls “trailing-throttle” or “lift-throttle oversteer,” the driver takes his foot off the gas while driving fast through a sharp turn. While the Lexus GX 460’s rear end slid toward the outside of the turn, electronic stability control quickly stopped the slide in the other SUVs.

Lexus GX 460: low volume could drop further for Toyota

Before Consumer Reports called out the Lexus GX 460 for rollover danger, Toyota wasn’t selling too many of them. Starting at about $52,000, the GX 460 is a small-volume vehicle for Lexus, Toyota Motor Corp.’s luxury brand. Only about 5,000 have been sold since November 2009. But the warning is the last thing the embattled automaker needs as it struggles to fight a litany of bad press. But the true impact could be seen as fewer car buyers borrow money to purchase any SUV manufactured by Lexus.

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