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Rollover risk spurs Toyota to stop Lexus GX 460 sales

WASHINGTON - Toyota says it will temporarily stop selling the Lexus GX 460 after Consumer Reports said the SUV carried an unusually high risk of a rollover accident during certain types of turns.

In the latest blow to Toyota's reputation, the Japanese automaker says it will suspend sales of the SUV while it conducts its own testing.

Consumer Reports says in handling tests the seven-seat SUV slid until it was nearly sideways before the electronic stability control system regained control.

The magazine says this could lead to a rollover accident in real-world driving. It gave the GX 460 a rare "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" label until the problem is fixed.

Toyota has sold about 5,000 GX 460s in the three months since it went on sale. It is not covered by Toyota's faulty gas-pedal recalls.

The GX 460, which starts at about $52,000, is built on the same platform as the Toyota 4Runner. However, Consumer Reports said the problem did not occur during similar tests on the 4Runner. According to Toyota's Web site, the GX 460 is about 3 inches taller than the 4Runner.

The magazine said the problem occurred on its test track. During the test of what's known as "liftoff oversteer," the test driver approaches a turn unusually fast, then releases the accelerator pedal to simulate the response of an alarmed driver. This causes the rear of the vehicle to slide outward.

In normal cases, the electronic stability control should quickly correct the loss of control and keep the SUV on its intended path. But with the GX460, 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, said Gabriel Shenhar, Consumer Reports' senior auto test engineer who was one of four testers who experienced the problem.

The magazine said it is not aware of any reports of the GX460 rolling over. It tested two separate vehicles, both of which experienced the problem, but neither rolled over.

In January, the magazine pulled its "recommended" rating on eight vehicles recalled by the automaker because of faulty gas pedals. - AP

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