Toyota investigating Lexus ES, GS as their trunks can trap people inside

Article by Christian A., on October 15, 2012

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.

The design of the interior of the ES was done to achieve a number of things. For example, not only was the visibility and the sightlines improved but the controls have been placed in a logical manner. Further, the materials used show a craftsmanship that is on a whole new level. Overall, the interior was made more contemporary and designed to give a more secure and open feel. One highlight of the redesign was that both the knee room and legroom in the rear have been enlarged. This also means that the passenger cabin now offers more space.

In terms of actual figures, the legroom has been extended by 4.1 inches with the knee room now larger by 2.8 inches. Headroom in the rear was enlarged as well by 0.8 inch. Further, just beneath the front seats, extra foot room has been placed ensuring that comfort for those sitting in the rear is improved. On the outside, one can observe that the ES has a lower profile with the use of the clean lines which begin in the front and go all the way to the rear. With all of its four corners being pulled inward tightly toward the vehicle’s wheel arches, the results are truly unique proportions.

Though the overall length was increased by 1 inch, the wheelbase itself has been extended by 1.8 inches. This meant shorter overhangs with more space being offered on the inside. Looking at the front, the new ES reveals the brand’s new face which has that unique spindle grille. The combination lamps in the rear plus the daytime running lights in LED show the “L” design theme.

Meanwhile, incorporated to the lower region of the sculpted bumper of the front fascia are the fog lamps. On the rear, there are the ES350 dual exhaust sports pipes with the ES300h having that rear design where the exhaust is hidden and a spoiler integrated to this section. Additional details that are specific to this hybrid model are the alloy 17-inch wheels and the distinct blue badge.

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