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Thu, Apr 15, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Toyota suspends sales of GX 460 SUV in N America

AFP , NEW YORK

Embattled Japanese automaker Toyota announced on Tuesday it was temporarily suspending sales of its Lexus GX 460 SUV in North America after a safety warning by a top US consumer magazine.

Consumer Reports gave the sports utility vehicle a rare “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” rating after conducting tests on the car.

When pushed to its limits, the rear of the GX “slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control,” the magazine said.

“We believe that in real-world driving, that situation could lead to a rollover accident, which could cause serious injury or death,” it added, while cautioning it was “not aware of any such reports.”

In response to the Consumer Reports warning, Toyota said it had asked its dealers to “temporarily suspend sales of the 2010 GX 460” in the US, but insisted it was “confident that the GX meets our high safety standards.”

Toyota also asked dealers in Canada “to temporarily suspend delivery” of the same model, the company said.

Toyota said it was concerned by the Consumer Reports rating and had not experienced any similar problems in its own tests. It offered to provide a loaner car to concerned GX 460 owners until it identified a remedy.

“For more than 20 years, Lexus has made customer safety and satisfaction our highest priorities. We are taking the situation with the GX 460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified,” Toyota said. “Our engineering teams are vigorously testing the GX using Consumer Reports’ specific parameters to identify how we can make the GX’s performance even better.”

Toyota has recalled millions of cars in the US since late last year over a series of problems linked to “unintended acceleration.”

The automaker faces a record US$16.4 million fine in the US for hiding dangerous defects in its cars from consumers and watchdogs, and its troubles are not over yet, with the National Highway Transport Safety Administration warning Toyota in a letter obtained on Saturday by AFP that it could slap another fine on the Japanese automaker.

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