Toyota Motor Corp. is investigating claims that its new Lexus ES and GS sedans have emergency trunk release handles that easily break and risk trapping someone in the cargo space. In a statement, nonprofit publication Consumer Reports magazine said that the defect was identified by accident during an evaluation of 2013 models of the two cars.
Jake Fisher, the director of vehicle testing of Consumer Reports, said that his 4-year-old son got into the ES 350's trunk to try the interior release. He said that the boy snapped off the lever that opens the lid and so he could only get out after the trunk was opened from the outside.
He said that tests of release handles in 2013 ES hybrid and GS 350 sedans indicated that they could snap too if the levers are pulled toward the driver's side. Toyota has recently issued the worldwide recall of 7.4 million vehicles this week to repair defective power-window switches.
Consumer Reports said that the matter has been brought to the attention of both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
John Hanson, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. unit, is investigating the "durability and ergonomics of the emergency trunk release lever.” In the statement, Fisher also said that beginning in the 2012 model year "all cars with trunks have included a trunk-entrapment safety release that glows in the dark.” He also pointed out that this feature helps in preventing a rare but possibly fatal situation.