UPDATE: Toyota Australia confirms local Prado unaffected.
TOYOTA HAS moved to suspend sales of the Prado-based US-market Lexus GX 460 after influential US magazine Consumer Reports gave the SUV a 'Don't Buy: Safety Risk' recommendation this week, citing the potential for roll-over in certain situations.
After a number of recalls internationally for both Lexus and Toyota models in past months, the Japanese carmaker has moved quickly to respond to the Consumer Reports recommendation - the first 'Don't Buy' rating since 2001.
"We are taking the situation with the GX 460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified," Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager, Mark Templin said in a statement today.
"At this time we have asked our dealers to temporarily suspend sales of the 2010 GX 460."
While not going as far as announcing a recall, Lexus in the US has offered a loan car to owners of the 2010 GX 460 until a remedy is available.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has confirmed that there have been no customer complaints recorded as yet.
The Consumer Reports test involved a driver cruising at highway speeds, then suddenly taking pressure off the accelerator pedal while turning the vehicle, creating lift-over oversteer.
The test is designed to replicate a scenario in which a driver has been startled by an unexpected and sudden obstacle.
The report claims that in the case of th GX 460, the electronic stability control system did not regain control quickly enough, with the rear end sliding out until it was "almost sideways".
On a regular road, such a situation could lead the rear wheels to strike a kerb, potentially causing the vehicle to flip or roll over.
Consumer Reports confirmed that the US-market Toyota 4Runner, also built on the Prado platform, did not exhibit the same characteristics.
It is possible that differences in weight, weight distribution, ESC programming and suspension tune lead to the different results.
Speaking with TMR today, Toyota Australia's Mike Breen confirmed that the Australian-delivered 2010 Toyota Prado is not affected by the concerns raised by the report.
"While the GX 460 does share its platform with the Prado, both the petrol and turbo-diesel variants of the Prado are lighter than the V8-powered Lexus, meaning that weight distribution, Vehicle Stability Control programming and suspension tune are different," Mr Breen said.
"We have had no reports from owners of any similar concerns. If anything, we have had two owners comment that the standard VSC settings for the Prado might, in their opinion, be too sensitive."
To its credit, Toyota has moved to rebuild buyer confidence in its brands, establishing a new quality control division and special committee to oversee engineering improvement and to more rapidly follow up on concerns.