Toyota has taken the extreme step of stopping the sale of the Lexus GX 460 sport-utility vehicle. This truck, which shares its basic platform with both the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota FJ Cruiser - neither of which have been pulled from dealer lots - has been the subject of intense media attention after Consumer Reports issued a warning concerning its handling. Specifically, the details of the report centered on the fact that when turning sharply at high speeds the testers involved believe that the Lexus GX 460 shows a distinct risk of rollover.
The claims made by Consumer Reports were buttressed by a video that shows a Lexus GX 460 tilting alarmingly sideways during an almost out-of-control driving exercise. Although sport-utility vehicles are known for presenting a greater rollover risk than sedans due to their higher centers of gravity, it is unusual for a specific model to be singled out by those within the industry in such a manner. In fact, the last SUV to receive similar treatment was the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited.
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to comment on the rollover warning and has in fact not actually tested the Lexus GX 460 in a rollover situation, Toyota has decided to preemptively stop selling the model until it can get to the bottom of the issue. In a press release the brand stated that it is attempting to duplicate the exact conditions of the testing shown in the video in an effort to understand why the vehicle dynamics appear so different from the company's own in-house development testing.
Other media sources that have previously tested the Lexus GX 460 have already come forward with their own data which fails to show the same level of vehicle instability claimed by the group which issued the warning. Some have even gone so far as to charge that the maneuvers performed in the video itself are not representative of any actual emergency driving situation but in fact represent a deliberate attempt to roll the vehicle over.
In any case, Toyota has little choice but to respond quickly and vigorously in order to attempt to limit any further damage to a reputation that has taken a serious beating over vehicle safety concerns over the course of the last six months. The company is inviting any current GX 460 owners who no longer feel comfortable behind the wheel of their vehicles to return to a dealership and exchange the SUV for a loaner until the truck's safety can be adequately determined.