By on April 15, 2010

That was fast: Two days after Consumer Reports slammed the Lexus GX460  with a “Do Not Buy” rating, and one day after ToMoCo halted the sale of said vehicle, Toyota already has a fix. Today at lunchtime in Tokyo, Toyota said to The Nikkei [sub] that there will be changes to the Lexus GX460. This in an unusually quick response to CR’s assertion that the SUV’s tail can wag too much when the gas pedal is released while turning at high speeds.

As Ed Niedermeyer predicted when he said “Expect GX460 sales to fall off a cliff until the model is fitted with an electronic straitjacket,” the problem will be solved with a re-flash. Toyota will modify the electronic stability control system and unspecified “other aspects of the vehicle.”

According to the Nikkei, Toyota has begun to test other SUV models. Based on the findings, the automaker will make the same fix for models like the RAV4 and Harrier. Toyota’s new Vice President of Recalls sure has his hands full.

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22 Comments on “Toyota Cries Uncle On GX460, Will Fix Problems In A Flash...”

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    If it takes them one day to wheel out the fix that means they were sitting on the fix or its really only just a minor adjustment to fool the crowd. Or both.

    Bang. Guilty as hell. Fine ’em. And fine anyone stupid enough to drive a 60k truck styled as a barge with cheap upmarket trim.

    Although I lust for a Freightliner pickup with walk around cab.

    • 0 avatar

      It means that they are going to reprogram the ESC to have over-aggressive with tons of understeer.

      The CR video basically showed lift-throttle oversteer. What the kids like to call ‘drifting’.

      Its not really a ‘fix’ being that it really wasn’t broken depending on your perspective. CR complained because old rich housewives that drive these things probably won’t know how to handle it, especially on a suv, which they are right, but an enthusiast magazine would likely call it handling dynamics.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Hmmm, this ultra rapid response makes one think that Toyota was completely surprised by CR’s report!

  • avatar

    Even God’s Own Motor Company couldn’t approve and roll-out a minor change from one day to the next …

    That TMC is now able to announce a s/w, and apparently a h/w, change in such a short period of time is highly suspicious. To be able to make such an announcement means they already had an idea that they would be making (or already have made) a change to production vehicles or vehicles in the field.

    To me, this smacks of residual secret-warranty mentality… and is ripe for a bit deeper look by DOT.

    – Toyota asserts that these vehicles fulfilled the DOT standards.
    – Yet they have a one day fix for a vehicle that is in compliance?

    If DOT has learned anything from their lackadasical handling of the mat-entrapment and sticky-pedal fiascos, they better pull one of these vehicles (unmodified, not reflashed) from dealer stock and run it thru a series of compliance tests.

    DOT does not test the vast majority of vehicles for compliance because OEM’s are self-certifying with respect to DOT regs.

    If this vehicle, or others like it, fail a DOT compliance test, TMC should get a hefty fine…

    • 0 avatar

      My guess is that they developed the “fix” so quickly is because it is simply easy to make a car do less oversteer, not because of a secret warranty:

      Software fix: Change one number in the VSC software – the minimum rotational G-force required before VSC kicks in

      Mechanical fix: Put crappier tires on the truck -therefore, the front tires will skiod sideways when the driver steers sharply at high speed, resulting in “significant but predictable and safe understeer, CR Recommends” being the new test results.

    • 0 avatar

      the mechanical fix for the problem is simple and can be done on a dealer lot in less then 30min with basic hand tools and no parts.

      remove rear anti-sway bar; problem solved.

      sure there is more roll but that’ll just make people want to corner even slower, it’s a win win and toyota can save money on producing the GX460.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you guys put any faith in doing confirmative testing on vehicles that have had the fixes installed/implemented in them?

      No OEM is just going to start changing things in the field, esp. things having to do with vehicle stability, and reputation, until after there has been some testing of physical properties.

  • avatar

    The fix is easy because they are just going to put a block of wood under the gas pedal, this will limit the SUVs top speed to a mere 30 mph ;)

    Seriously – I’d bet its just a simply rework of the skid control software. Most likely they tested all the parameters during development and already know which knob to turn and how far.

  • avatar

    Another mountain out of a molehill. I’m sick of the nanny car mentality these days. Cars are dangerous and so are people. I remember my 1969 Plymouth Fury with 383 4bbl motor and how at full throttle the car would lay rubber sideways for 2 blocks. To my 18 year old mind this was a very positive attribute in a vehicle. Maybe I should sue Chryco for that ditch and fence incident in 1984 because there were no nanny controls on the Fury.
    I now drive a 2005 Honda Civic SE with no ABS and no traction control and love it. The car does what I want when I want it to. The more complex and controlled cars become the more stupid people get!

  • avatar

    John Horner,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Not only have they fixed it for the GX, but they have also determined that it is a problem and fixed it for the RAV4 as well. That seems a bit much to have done from 2 days of work. Either CR told them well ahead of time this was coming, or they already knew about the problem.

  • avatar

    Consumer Reports needs to recall their rating system – They will now have to add a new category to their used car ratings. In the case of a “NEW” Toyota GX 460 they recommend “Don’t Buy” but in a “USED Cadillac SRX with the same exact defect the strongest warning they can give is “not recommended” How can a safety defect be treated and rated so differently simply based on the cars legal status of used or new? Aren’t used car buyers entitled to the same level of advice and protection as new car buyers? We ask CR to create a new “Don’t Buy” rating for used vehicles – it just makes sense.

    • 0 avatar

      Can you provide a link to the Caddy SRX problem you are talking about? I wasn’t aware of the problem. The other question, is it as severe as the GX? Most SUV/CUV vehicles will behave like this to some extent.

  • avatar

    Well, bully for Toyota. At least they were smart enough to figure out the fix was in and there was no point in fighting CR’s false halo of impartiality.

    Here’s what I think. For years, CR readers faithfully bought Camrys, Corollas, Priuses and the like because the ad-free consumer organization told them to. Then, Toyota grows phenomenally and its quality slips, topped off by the sudden acceleration debacle. CR is caught unawares and fears for their own endangered credibility and relevance.

    What do they do? Test a 5,300-pound Toyota truck like it’s a Porsche or Corvette — on its own track, with its own surface and test conditions. When physics does the inevitable, CR uses the video to act like they’re heroes protecting consumers from “danger.” And — I love this part — when Toyota asks to duplicate the conditions on the same track, CR gets all sanctimonious and refuses to let them. What a crock!

    CR has been playing this fear-mongering publicity schtick for years, and the media keeps falling for it. Remember the 1978 Dodge Omni test, where they jerked the wheel at 50mph and the car spun? It was never proven, never duplicated by other engineers, and CR doesn’t even do that to test cars anymore. And the Omni/Horizon — while a piece of junk in many ways — was sold until1990 without major safety complaints.

    Yes, any 5300-pound SUV on a truck platform will slide if pushed enough, or even roll over. Jeeps have been doing that for 70 years. But that’s not a reason to avoid big SUVs. Avoid them because they’re overweight, overpriced, wasteful of resources, too big and clumsy, hard to park, and unnecessary for anyone except those who genuinely need a large vehicle with off-road utility. Which is probably less than 5% of U.S. vehicle buyers.

    I spent a lot of time driving the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero before it hit showrooms. It was a great off-road vehicle. On road, it wasn’t so great. Was it unstable in extreme on-road handling? Yes, of course it was. That’s the point. Whether it’s 15-passenger vans or any pickup or SUV with high centers of gravity, smart people don’t drive such vehicles into s-curves at 60 mph. Really, at what point do we stop protecting adults from themselves and let Darwinism take over?

    • 0 avatar

      I hadn’t read that CR wasn’t allowing them to use their test track. Do you have a link for that?

      Also, it seems that they perform this test with all of their SUVs/CUVs. Read that article where they said the 4Runner, based on the same platform was fine.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s on the site. I can’t access it right now, or I’d send a link. The article says that TMC requested to use the track to duplicate the test but CR never lends out its test track.

    • 0 avatar

      Found the link.
      And the NY Times link.

      I must say though, it seems like a long standing policy for them not to allow people access to the track. They aren’t a QA system for manufactures. But, it does seem like they were very forthcoming with the data gathered and that Toyota has been able to fix the problem already.

      It seems that the CR test is much more aggressive than the in house testing. I am willing to be that all manufactures are going to read this and adjust their test accordingly.

    • 0 avatar

      It seems that the CR test is much more aggressive than the in house testing. I am willing to be that all manufactures are going to read this and adjust their test accordingly.

      This is the case with their mileage tests, as well as the IIHS’ crash tests (which many models routinely fail in interesting ways).

  • avatar

    Let me get this straight:

    Toyota dragged their feet with respect to fixing unintended acceleration problems but responded too quickly to the Lexus instability problem?

    What is the blogosphere-approved time frame for addressing safety issues? When is the porridge neither “too hot” nor “too cold” but “just right”?

    • 0 avatar

      No, people were saying the same thing on the SUA problems. That after the problem was announced, the fix came in a few short days later, which implies they have the quickest, hardest working engineers, and QA staff ever, or that they knew about the problem before the recalls.

      The complaints about Toyota were that they were too slow acknowledging that there was a problem or that they ignored a problem that they knew about. That is why people were saying it was taking too long.

  • avatar

    Hey guys, it’s not cool to use private video footage from my bedroom in your posts! Not cool at all!

    I’m kidding…kidding…I kid.

    It must be video from a Republican Senator’s bedroom…

    Wasn’t aware of ‘Cry Uncle’ before this post, looks like some kind of early John Waters mess, though I’m sure it’s not. Have to look that one up for a good laugh…

  • avatar

    By looking at the miniscule sales figures of this thing it looks like “Do Not Buy” was already being observed.

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