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Consumer Reports Passes Updated Lexus GX 460

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author photo by Autotrader May 2010

Consumer Reports has lifted its "Don't Buy" label on the Lexus GX460, following a recall of the large SUV.

In April, Consumer Reports tested the GX460's electronic stability control system during emergency handling tests, and found the system inactive. This led the magazine to label the SUV a "safety risk."

In response, Toyota, the parent brand of Lexus, immediately stopped the sale of the GX460 and issued a voluntary recall to correct the problem. The fix involves an update to the software managing the vehicle's Electronic Stability Control system. Upon testing an updated model, the magazine announced that it "did not experience any safety concerns with the corrected GX460 in our handling tests," adding that the corrected GX460 demonstrated a tendency to understeer during the same tests, making the vehicle "more predictable and less likely to roll over."

The Consumer Reports "Don't Buy" label came at an extremely inopportune time for Toyota, which has suffered negative publicity and a Congressional inquiry following a rash of incidents blamed on sticking accelerators. Toyota recalled more than 4 million vehicles in the United States to correct the issue.

While Toyota accommodated Consumer Reports, immediately issuing a stop-sale order on the GX460 in order to correct the problem, the magazine has sometimes seen lawsuits over the labeling of vehicles as safety risks. In 1988, Suzuki sued Consumers Union, the publishers of Consumer Reports, over a "safety risk" warning against a Suzuki SUV; an Isuzu distributor filed a similar lawsuit in 1997 over warnings against the Isuzu Trooper. Positive reviews from Consumer Reports are important to manufacturers, as the magazine has a circulation of more than 7 million and counts its yearly automotive issue as its most popular.

After the myriad of bad press for Toyota, the lifting of the Consumer Reports "Don't Buy" label – while relatively insignificant – may be the bright spot Toyota needs to begin to turn the tide of publicity in its favor.

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Consumer Reports Passes Updated Lexus GX 460 - Autotrader