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Consumer Reports Demands Vehicle Recall

Autos: Magazine's publisher says 1995-96 Isuzu Trooper and '96 Acura SLX tipped dangerously in tests.

August 21, 1996|From Associated Press

The publisher of Consumer Reports on Tuesday charged that 1995-96 Isuzu Troopers and 1996 Acura SLXs can roll over during quick turns at low speed and demanded a recall of the sport-utility vehicles.

"To consumers who are considering buying one of these models, our advice is don't--not until a satisfactory repair is made," said R. David Pittle, Consumer Reports' technical director.

Consumers Union, the nonprofit Yonkers, N.Y.-based publisher of Consumer Reports, branded the two vehicles "not acceptable" based on its own tests. It was the first time in eight years that the group gave a vehicle that rating.

Each of the vehicles tipped up high on two wheels during test runs through a course. The 1996 Trooper tipped substantially at about 33 mph and nearly rolled over, the group said. In the worst case, it tipped at approximately a 45-degree angle.

"The test simulates the challenge a driver faces when avoiding an unexpected obstacle, such as a child running into the road," Pittle said.

The group recommended that the manufacturers either fix the models or offer owners a replacement or refund. It said it has also asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate design defects.

Isuzu responded by saying the Trooper meets all federal safety standards. The company will examine Consumers Union's test results, spokesman Daniel McCue said. "We have been invited by Consumers Union to review the test protocol and test data, and we intend to accept that invitation," he said.

"The consumers can be confident that we will investigate this issue," he said. "We will take appropriate action if we find there is reason to do so."

The Acura SLX was introduced this year as essentially a Trooper with an Acura nameplate. Both vehicles are made in Japan.

Acura did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Both models are tall--the Trooper is 6 feet high--and relatively narrow compared with other sport-utility vehicles.

About 35,000 of the vehicles have been sold in the United States, and Consumers Union said there are no reliable accident statistics yet. However, Pittle said the test employed is "not a stunt maneuver."

Consumers Union said 46 out of 47 vehicles tested have completed the same test without any tendency to tip. In 1988, the Suzuki Samurai received a "not acceptable" rating for tending to roll over on some turns.

Suzuki sued Consumers Union, alleging it mishandled a road test and ignored evidence that the cars were safe. The vehicles are no longer sold in the United States. The lawsuit is pending.

Consumers Union tested the 1992 Trooper and gave it an acceptable rating. Pittle speculated that the company later made a change in the vehicle's suspension that hurt its stability.

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