US consumer magazine calls Lexus model a 'safety risk'

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Embattled Japanese automaker Toyota received another hammer-blow to its safety reputation on Tuesday as a respected US consumer magazine warned readers not to buy one of its Lexus models.

Consumer Reports gave the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV a rare "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" rating after conducting tests on the car.

"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," the magazine said.

"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."

Toyota said it was concerned by the rating and had not experienced any similar problems in its own tests.

"We will try to duplicate the Consumer Reports' test to determine if appropriate steps need to be taken," the company said in a statement.

"Customer safety and satisfaction remain our highest priorities. We take the Consumer Reports' test results seriously and appreciate Consumer Reports bringing it to our attention."

The last time Consumer Reports issued a "Don't Buy" warning was 2001, for a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero.

Toyota has recalled millions of cars in the United States since late 2009, over a series of problems linked to "unintended acceleration."

The recalls have caused an outcry in the United States, with Toyota executives hauled over the coals by Congress and the company's previously stellar reputation for safety left in tatters.

The company faces a record 16.4 million dollar fine in the United States for hiding dangerous defects in its cars from consumers and watchdogs.

Toyota also has been hit with at least 97 lawsuits seeking damages for injury or death linked to sudden acceleration and 138 class action lawsuits from angry customers suing to recoup losses in the resale value of Toyota vehicles following the recalls.

It has also suspended production of some Lexus models in Japan over problems with the breaking system.

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