April 13, 2010 -- Consumer Reports gave an extremely rare safety warning today – and delivered another black eye to Toyota. For the first time in nearly ten years, Consumer Reports is unequivocally telling people not to buy a particular vehicle, in this case the Lexus GX 460 SUV.
Toyota followed the announcement today by saying they will temporarily stop selling the Lexus GX 460 SUV, after the Consumer Reports tests found the vehicle posed a serious safety risk.
The test in question gauges happens when a driver comes into a curve too quickly and tries to slow down by taking his foot off the gas. In the test, the rear tires of the luxury Lexus SUV slid out into an uncontrolled skid. Consumer Reports says the slide is so severe that the SUV is liable to hit a curb or other such obstruction before emergency systems kick in, which could lead to a deadly rollover accident.
"We've actually tested hundreds of vehicles," Consumer Reports' Senior Engineer Jake Fisher told ABC News. "I've been here at CR for 11 years and I've never seen an SUV do anything this bad."
Fisher said that the SUV's electronic stability control – designed to stop skids and rollovers -- did work, but kicks in too late.
"It's been almost 10 years since we put a 'do-not-buy' on this vehicle. So this really is a serious concern," he says.
This latest blow to Toyota comes as questions persist over whether electronic problems are behind deadly unintended acceleration accidents involving their cars. It also comes just a week after the government accused Toyota of knowingly hiding safety defects, and proposed a whopping $16 million fine.
"The situation involving electronics, as it continues to haunt Toyota, can only mean more negative things and more bad things, frankly, for a brand that is trying to get out from underneath this," Jason Stein, Editor of Automotive News, told ABC News.
In a statement today, Toyota said it is "concerned with the results of Consumer Reports testing" and will try to duplicate them "to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken."
Either way, this is yet another big bump in the road for an automaker than can ill afford one.