UPDATE 2-Consumer Reports calls Lexus SUV ‘safety risk’

* Magazine said sliding on turns could cause accidents

* Toyota said it was investigating the warning
(Recasts, adds details on magazine’s testing, background on
Toyota recalls)

TOKYO, April 13 (BestGrowthStock) – Influential nonprofit magazine
Consumer Reports on Tuesday urged consumers to avoid purchasing
a 2010 Lexus GX 460, saying the Toyota Motor Corp sport utility
vehicle was a “safety risk” because of the performance of its
stability control system.

Consumer Reports, which is seen as an objective voice on
auto safety and quality in the North American market, said the
2010 Lexus GX 460 was prone to slide when driven in sweeping
turns and gave the vehicle a “not acceptable” rating.

The rare safety warning from Consumer Reports comes at a
time when Toyota is battling to repair damage to its reputation
from a punishing series of recalls.

Toyota said in a statement that it was “concerned” with the
Consumer Reports warning and would try to duplicate its test
result to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken.

“We take the Consumer Reports’ test results seriously,” the
automaker said.

The last time Consumer Reports concluded that a vehicle was
“not acceptable” for consumers to buy was in 2001, when it
warned consumers away from the Mitsubishi Montero Limited.

The rare warning also stands out because past endorsements
from Consumer Reports have been credited as one reason for
Toyota’s steady sales growth in the United States over the past
15 years.

Toyota has struggled under massive recalls due to defective
sticky accelerator pedals and the potential for floormats to
entrap the accelerator. The sticky accelerator pedals also led
to U.S. sales and production halts.

U.S. safety regulators have proposed a record $16.4 million
fine against Toyota, the highest allowed, accusing the
automaker of knowingly delaying a recall over the defective
accelerator pedals and may seek more penalties. The recalls
also sparked congressional hearings and numerous lawsuits.

The automaker’s U.S. sales fell 16 percent year-over-year
in January and 9 percent in March before rising 41 percent in
March under unprecedented incentives. Toyota has extended broad
incentives and widened a maintenance offer into May.

Consumer Reports said the sliding its test drivers found in
the GX 460 could cause rollover accidents resulting in serious
injury or death. It said it knew of no reports of such
accidents.

“CR is urging consumers not to buy the GX 460 until the
problem has been fixed,” the magazine said in a statement.

The GX 460, which is based on the same platform as the
Toyota 4Runner, went on sale in the U.S. earlier this year. The
luxury SUV starts at just over $50,000.

Consumer Reports said the vehicle’s electronic stability
control did not intervene quickly enough to stop the vehicle
from sliding out in a turn. When pushed to its limits, the rear
slid out almost sideways before it regained control.

The magazine said the risk of a rollover accident in the GX
460 was significant because it is a tall SUV with a high center
of gravity.

It said no other SUV had slid as far as the Lexus in its
recent testing, including the Toyota 4Runner.
Stock Market Analysis

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and Chang-Ran Kim, additional
reporting by David Bailey in Detroit; Editing by Sharon
Lindores and Derek Caney)

UPDATE 2-Consumer Reports calls Lexus SUV ‘safety risk’