Consumer Reports on Tuesday urged consumers to avoid purchasing a Lexus GX 460, saying the sport utility vehicle from Toyota Motor Corp was a safety risk because of the performance of its stability control system.
The non-profit magazine, which is considered an influential and objective voice on auto safety and quality in the North American market, said the Lexus GX 460 was prone to slide when driven in sweeping turns.
Toyota said in a statement that it was concerned with the Consumer Reports warning and would try to duplicate its test result to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken.
We take the Consumer Reports' test results seriously, the automaker said.
The last time that Consumer Reports concluded that a vehicle was not acceptable for consumers to buy was in 2001, when it warned consumers away from the Mitsubishi Montero Limited.
The rare warning also stands out because past endorsements from Consumer Reports have been credited as one reason for Toyota's steady sales growth in the United States over the past decade and a half.
Consumer Reports said it believed that the sliding its test drivers found in the GX 460 could cause rollover accidents resulting in serious injury or death. It said it knew of no reports of such accidents.
CR is urging consumers not to buy the GX 460 until the problem has been fixed, the magazine said in a statement.
The GX 460, which is based on the same platform as the Toyota 4Runner, went on sale in the U.S. earlier this year. The luxury SUV starts at just over $50,000.
The rare safety warning from Consumer Reports comes at a time when Toyota is battling to restore sales momentum and to repair damage to its reputation from a punishing series of recalls.
The automaker has recalled over two million vehicles worldwide to fix a range of problems centered on the risk for accelerator pedals to become jammed by floormats or because of a mechanical defect in the pedal itself.
Consumer Reports said that the risk of a rollover accident in the GX 460 was significant because it is a tall SUV with a high center of gravity.
It said that no other SUV had slid as far as the Lexus in its recent testing, including the all-new Toyota 4Runner.
(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Sharon Lindores)