Bad news comes in threes for Toyota. First it dealt with bouts of unintended acceleration, then the brakes on its Prius developed an ailment, and now the Lexus GX 460 has been come down with a bad case of lift-throttle oversteer.
This latest blow also comes hot on the heels of leaked documents suggesting Toyota delayed action on a recall to address unintended acceleration (maybe bad news comes in fours?). Unlike the last time, the company has responded more promptly and appropriately, halting sales of the behemoth SUV, offering loaners to affected customers, and vowing to come up with a fix pronto.
Consumer Reports discovered the problem while testing a number of vehicles for sinister responses during emergency maneuvers. The GX 460’s behavior caught many testers by surprise—while navigating a tightening curve, they let off the gas pedal to simulate a less-experienced driver’s reaction. The tail of the SUV swung wide, pointing the nose of the two-and-a-half ton truck toward the curve’s apex. Like many other vehicles, the GX 460 has a stability control system to deal with situations like these. But unlike other cars and trucks, the Lexus’ system didn’t kick in until it was almost too late.
Disturbed by these antics, Consumer Reports editors slapped a “Do Not Buy” warning on the SUV. The last vehicle to earn this dishonor was the Mitsubishi Montero Limited in 2001. Isuzu also ran into a similar problem with their Trooper SUV in 1996, which the magazine rated as “Not Acceptable” due to high rollover risk. Isuzu didn’t take the rating lightly and sued Consumer Reports for defamation. Though most of the rulings went in Isuzu’s favor, the strategy wasn’t an out and out success—Consumer Reports is still publishing while Isuzu’s American sales declined until it finally withdrew from the U.S. consumer market in January 2009.