Toyota to test all SUV models
By Yuri Kageyama and Dan Strumpf
TOKYO — Toyota is testing all its sport utility vehicles to reassure buyers of their safety after Consumer Reports warned a large Lexus SUV is susceptible to rolling over.
The testing covers the entire lineup of Toyota and Lexus SUVs, including popular models such as the RAV4, the 4Runner and the Highlander, said Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons. The automaker will be testing the vehicles' stability control and aims to replicate the Consumer Reports' test that first uncovered the problem, he said. He was unaware how long the tests would take.
Toyota is also suspending production of the Lexus SUV — the GX 460 — for 12 days starting today. The move follows suspension of the vehicle's sales earlier this week.
Toyota has yet to decide whether it will recall the vehicle, a hefty seven-seat SUV sold mainly in North America but also in the Middle East, Russia and some other nations.
The actions reflect a new urgency at Toyota Motor Corp. to deal with safety problems. The automaker in recent months has been plagued by recalls and accusations that it responded too slowly to safety lapses.
Earlier this week, Consumer Reports gave the GX 460 a rare "Don't Buy" rating because its rear slid out too far during sharp turns designed to test the vehicle's handling. That puts the back end at risk of hitting a curb and rolling over.
Toyota says it does not know what's causing the problem, but was working to address it so that the influential magazine, which many shoppers rely on to choose new cars, would retest the vehicle and give it a satisfactory rating.
Toyota has sold just 4,787 GX 460s in the U.S. this year. That represents about 10 percent of sales for Lexus and just 1 percent of Toyota's overall U.S. sales.
Still, Toyota ordered dealers to stop selling the model in North America on Tuesday within hours of the Consumer Reports warning.