Toyota is testing the safety of all its sport-utility models after a U.S. consumer magazinethe 2010 Lexus GX 460 for possible roll-over problems, the Japanese automaker said Thursday.
But Toyota Motor Corp., plagued by a spate of recalls since October last year, said it had not yet decided whether to recall the GX 460, sold mainly in North America but also in the Middle East, Russia and some other nations. Some Japanese media reported Toyota was considering a recall.
Toyota in North America temporarily Tuesday within hours of the Consumer Reports warning, acting relatively quickly to the report after being criticized as slow in responding to consumer complaints on faulty gas pedals, defective floor mats and braking software glitches.
Toyota officials in Tokyo said the company was carrying out tests that were as close to those by Consumer Reports as possible.
Toyota has said that it does not yet know what the possible problems could be, but was working on it so that Consumer Reports would be able to retest the GX 460 and give it a satisfactory rating.
Consumer Reports, widely read by many car buyers because of its reputation as fair, has raised red flags over Toyotas previously. In January, the magazine pulled its "recommended" rating on eight vehicles recalled by the automaker due to faulty gas pedals.
For the GX 460, Consumer Reports said the problem occurred during tests on its track. In a standard test, the driver approached a turn unusually fast, then released the accelerator pedal to simulate the response of an alarmed driver. This caused the rear of the vehicle to slide outward.
Under normal circumstances, the electronic stability control should quickly correct the loss of control and keep the SUV on its intended path.
But with the GX 460, the stability control took too long to adjust, which could cause a rollover accident if one of the sliding wheels were to strike the curb or another obstacle, according to Consumer Reports.
Toyota said it sold about 6,000 of the GX 460 worldwide. The manufacturer behind the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan makes a wide range of sport-utility vehicles, including the RAV4, Land Cruiser and 4Runner.
Since October, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide and has promised to be more transparent and responsive to consumer complaints.
The automaker from the Transportation Department and has until April 19 to decide whether to contest the penalty following the massive recalls over gas pedals that are too slow to retract or can become stuck under floor mats.
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