Lexus GX460 U.S. sales halted over safety nonsense
U.S. magazine Consumer Reports, a respected publication that has no advertising and buys their own test vehicles, has come out with a scathing report saying that the Lexus GX 460 is a “safety risk” and put it on their “do not buy” list. They came up with the recommendation because they believe the electronic stability control does not react in time during loss of control at high speeds. As a result, Toyota has temporarily stopped sales of the GX 460 in the United States. We believe the story is being blown out of proportion.
Consumer Reports is not biased by advertising, but their criteria for recommending cars is a bit stringent. For example, they value stability control systems highly in their tests. The video of their test already shows that the Lexus lost control while speeding down a slight incline and slowing down suddenly, thereby inducing a slide. The midsize 4×4 behaved exactly as any other heavy 4×4 would behave, only that the computer nannies interfered later than it should have, compared to 4x4s of other brands.
We drove the 2010 Toyota Prado VX-L, sister model of the Lexus GX, and pulled off similarly stupid manoeuvres that the electronic nannies kept readily in check. Yet, we were never dumb enough to enter a turn at 100 kph while expecting a 2.5-tonne to behave itself even with stability control. There are limits to what a computer can do, and we had actually found the truck’s electronics to be too interfering. We said we were “going into off-ramps a bit quickly, which is where it got a bit shaky, as the tyres started squealing and the stability control kicked in to induce understeer, sending us towards the outside of the turn when what we really wanted was to mildly slide out the rear. Still, it was just doing what inexperienced drivers would find more comforting…”
In general, an electronic stability control system generally applies different amounts of braking to each wheel as soon as a slide starts, to bring the car back in control. However, these systems were not even available in most GCC-spec Toyota models until only the last couple of years, and people managed fine without them. Most people here still don’t understand the functionality of ESP, ESC, VSA or whatever these systems are branded as, so they drive as they normally do, which means they don’t intentionally dive into sharp turns at breakneck speeds. As such, reporting the GX 460 as a “safety risk” is simply sensationalism.
Update: Sales of the Lexus GX460 has now been stopped worldwide, including the UAE and other GCC countries, until Toyota figures out what is going on.