Toyota Motor says it will temporarily stop selling the Lexus GX460 after Consumer Reports said the SUV carried an unusually high risk of a rollover accident during certain types of turns.
In the latest blow to Toyota's reputation, the Japanese automaker says it will suspend sales of the SUV while it conducts its own testing.
Consumer Reports says in handling tests the seven-seat SUV slid until it was nearly sideways before the electronic stability control system regained control.
The magazine says this could lead to a rollover accident in real-world driving. It gave the GX460 a rare "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" label until the problem is fixed.
Toyota has sold about 5,000 GX460s in the three months since it went on sale. It is not covered by Toyota's faulty gas-pedal recalls.
Consumer Reports said the last vehicle to receive such a "Don't Buy" warning was the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited. It said among the 95 SUVs in its current ratings, no other slid as far as the GX460.
Starting at about $52,000, the GX460 is a small-volume vehicle for Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand. But the warning represents yet another blow for Toyota's tarnished reputation for safety following recalls of millions of vehicles for faulty gas pedals. The GX460 is not covered by the pedal recalls.
Consumer Reports said the problem occurred during a handling test on its test track. During the test, the driver approaches a turn unusually fast, then releases the accelerator pedal to simulate a typical driver's response. This causes the rear of the vehicle to slide.
In normal cases, the vehicle's electronic stability control should quickly correct the loss of control. But Shenhar said in the case of the GX460, the stability control took too long to adjust, causing a risk of rolling over.
However, Consumer Reports said it is not aware of any reports of the vehicle rolling over. The magazine said it tested two separate vehicles, both of which experienced the problem, but neither rolled over.