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Consumer Reports has judged the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk because of a problem we experienced during our standard emergency-handling tests. When pushed to its limits on our track’s handling course, the rear of the GX we bought slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control.
We believe that in real-world driving, that situation could lead to a rollover accident, which could cause serious injury or death. We are not aware, however, of any such reports.
All four of our auto engineers who conduct the test experienced the problem in an exercise used to evaluate what’s called lift-off oversteer. In the test, as the vehicle is driven through a turn, the driver quickly lifts his foot off the accelerator pedal to see how the vehicle reacts.
We perform this evaluation on every vehicle we test, which includes the 95 SUVs in our current auto Ratings. No other SUV in recent years slid out as far as the GX 460, including the Toyota 4Runner, which shares the same platform as the GX.To confirm our results, we paid for the use of another GX 460 from Lexus and experienced the same problem.
In real-world driving, lift-off oversteer could occur when a driver enters a highway’s exit ramp or drives through a sweeping turn and encounters an unexpected obstacle or suddenly finds that the turn is too tight for the vehicle’s speed. A natural impulse is to quickly lift off the accelerator pedal. If that were to happen in the GX, the rear could slide around far enough that a wheel could strike a curb or slide off the pavement.
Either of those scenarios can cause a vehicle to roll over. And because the GX is a tall SUV with a high center of gravity, our concern for rollover safety is heightened.