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Consumer Reports Press Release: Isuzu Trooper and Acura SLX Not Acceptable, Tests Reveal Rollover Risk


Consumer Reports Tests Reveal Rollover Hazard: 1995/96 Isuzu Trooper &
1996 Acura SLX 'Not Acceptable'

YONKERS, N.Y., Aug. 20 -- During routine avoidance
maneuver tests completed by Consumer Reports this month, the 1995 and
1996 Isuzu Trooper and the 1996 Acura SLX each tipped up high on two
wheels, demonstrating that these sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) have
too great a tendency to roll over in certain situations.  As a result,
Consumer Reports has rated these SUVs "Not Acceptable."

Rollovers are a particularly lethal type of accident.  In
single-vehicle accidents, the occupants are more than twice as likely
to die if a rollover is involved.  According to government statistics,
almost two-thirds of all SUV fatalities between 1991 and 1994 involved
a rollover.  The tendency of SUVs to roll over has led the government
in the past to require all SUVs with a wheelbase of 110 inches or less
to display a warning label stating that "as with other vehicles of
this type, if you make sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, the vehicles
may rollover or may go out of control and crash."

In conjunction with the announcement of its test results, Consumers
Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today also
asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to
investigate design defects in the 1995 and 1996 Trooper and the 1996
SLX (basically a Trooper with an Acura nameplate, introduced as a 1996
model).  The CU petition also called for a new emergency handling
standard that will reflect how vehicles act when in motion, especially
while turning sharply.

Until such a standard is enacted, Consumer Reports says automakers
must keep rollover-prone vehicles out of production.  "Any car that
tips like these vehicles did during our tests should not be allowed on
the road," said Dr. R.  David Pittle, Consumer Reports' Technical
Director.  "You can't sticker over a safety problem.  It's not enough
to have a warning label that says -- in effect -- in an emergency, let
the driver beware.  Manufacturers have a responsibility to make their
vehicles safe to use in all aspects of ordinary use."

In letters sent to Isuzu and Acura, Consumer Reports called upon the
manufacturers to halt sales of the vehicles, recall the vehicles owned
by consumers, fix them, or offer owners a replacement or refund.  "To
consumers who are considering buying one of these models," Dr. Pittle
said, "Our advice is: Don't.  Not until a satisfactory repair is
made."  In the meantime, owners of the vehicles are cautioned to drive
them only when necessary and to use extreme caution.

The avoidance maneuver test, conducted by expert drivers at the
Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Connecticut, is designed to
evaluate how well a vehicle handles during a particular type of
emergency.  "This is not a stunt maneuver," said Dr. Pittle.  "The
test simulates the challenge a driver faces when avoiding an
unexpected obstacle, such as a child running into the road.  It
involves a quick turn into the left lane to avoid the problem, an
immediate turn to the right to avoid oncoming traffic, and a final
turn to the left to get back into the original lane."

All vehicles tested by Consumer Reports are put through a standard
course that simulates a highway avoidance maneuver at 45 to 55 mph.
On this course, the 1996 Trooper lifted both its right wheels in
several runs, at speeds between 43 and 45 mph.  Since they are
inherently less stable than passenger cars, SUVs, newly designed
minivans, and compact pickups are also run through a slower and
shorter course that simulates suburban speeds of 35 to 45 mph.  In
this test, which is more demanding because its turns are sharper, the
1996 Trooper tipped way up at about 33 mph and threatened to roll
completely over.

"It is extremely rare for a vehicle to tip up during this test," Dr.
Pittle added.  "Besides the 1995 and 1996 Trooper and the 1996 SLX, 46
other vehicles have been tested on this shorter course over the last
eight years, and only one performed this badly.

"We were shocked and disappointed to witness these results," added Dr.
Pittle.  The Trooper and SLX had been previously recommended by
Consumer Reports based on tests of the 1992 Trooper.  "Until we
conducted the tests just completed, we had no reason to think the
model had been altered in a way that would adversely affect its
safety.  In light of these tests, we must retract our previous
recommendations for the 1995 and 1996 Trooper and the 1996 SLX."
Dr. Pittle noted that the "Not Acceptable" designation does not apply
to 1994 and earlier Troopers.

The full test report on the "Not Acceptable" Isuzu Trooper and Acura
SLX, with a report on three other acceptable SUVs tested, will be
published in the October issue of Consumer Reports, available on news
stands on September 24.

The full report is also available now in the Consumer Reports areas of
America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy.  The report on the Trooper
and SLX is available now, under code number 9507, on Consumer Reports
Facts by Fax service (800-766-9988), at a cost of $7.75 per report.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, an independent,
nonprofit testing and information gathering organization, serving only
the consumer.  We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about
products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other
consumer concerns.  Since 1936, our mission has been to test products,
inform the public, and protect consumers.

                                  Fact Sheet
                About Consumer Reports "Not Acceptable" Rating
                  of 1995/96 Isuzu Trooper & 1996 Acura SLX

    -- Consumer Reports' "Not Acceptable" rating applies to the 1995 and 1996
       Isuzu Trooper and the 1996 Acura SLX sport-utility vehicles (SUVs)

    -- The 1996 Acura SLX is essentially the same vehicle as the Trooper,
       under an Acura nameplate.  The 1995 and 1996 Troopers are also
       essentially the same.

    -- Evidence of the rollover hazard in the Trooper and SLX models was
       observed during a series of Consumer Reports' Avoidance Maneuver tests
       completed in August, 1996.  During these tests, each of the three
       vehicles tested tipped up high on two wheels during runs through the
       short course, while driven by different drivers. (See attached
       description of the Avoidance Maneuver test).

    -- Beginning in 1998, 46 out of 47 other vehicles have completed the
       Consumer Reports Avoidance Maneuver short course test without
       displaying any tendency to tip up or roll over.  They include these
       1996 models: Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota
       RAV4, Suzuki Sidekick, Geo Tracker, and Suzuki X90.

    -- All SUVs with a wheelbase of 110 inches or less are required by the
       Government to display a warning label stating that "as with other
       vehicles of this type, if you make sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, the
       vehicles may rollover or may go out of control and crash."

    -- Given the brief time that the 1995 and 1996 models have been on the
       road, and the relatively small quantities sold (approximately 35,000 in
       the U.S.), there are no meaningful accident statistics at this time on
       the 1995 and 1996 models.  Generally, the National Highway Traffic
       Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not gather enough data to project an
       accurate picture of accident statistics for any individual auto make
       and model.

                            From Consumer Reports:
                          What Consumers Should Know
             About The 1995/96 Isuzu Trooper & The 1996 Acura SLX

    -- Based on tests just completed in early August, 1996 by Consumer
       Reports, the following sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) have been rated
       "Not Acceptable": the 1995 and 1996 Isuzu Trooper and the 1996 Acura

    -- If you're considering buying a 1995 or 1996 Trooper or an Acura SLX,
       don't.  These models displayed a tendency to roll over during Consumer
       Reports' emergency avoidance maneuver test.

    -- If you already own one of these vehicles, drive it only when necessary
       and with extreme caution.  Drive especially slowly when you're in an
       area, like a residential neighborhood, where you may have to turn
       suddenly to avoid a child darting into the road, or some other

    -- It may be difficult to sense that a vehicle is tipping up on two
       wheels.  If you feel one side lifting, steer in the direction of the
       roll.  If the vehicle is tipping toward the left, for instance, steer

    -- Be especially careful when you take any SUV off-road.  A speed of no
       more than 5 mph is fast enough for rough terrain.

    -- Avoid using a roof rack if you're driving an SUV.  Tying a load to the
       roof raises the center of gravity and makes a vehicle more rollover-

    -- Consumer Reports has asked Isuzu and Acura to halt sales of and
       voluntarily recall the 1995 and 1996 Trooper and the SLX.  We have
       urged the manufacturers to repair the ones that have been sold or offer
       owners a refund or replacement.  We have also petitioned the National
       Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defect
       investigation of these vehicles and to develop an emergency handling
       standard for SUVs.  To register your concerns, contact:

    American Isuzu Motors, Inc.               Acura
    Customer Relations                        Customer Relations
    2300 Pellisier Pl. PO Box 995             1919 Torrance Boulevard
    Whittier, CA 90608-0995                   Torrance, CA 90501-2746
    Phone 800-255-6727                        Phone 800-382-2238

    400 Seventh St., SW
    Washington, DC 20590
    Attn: Honorable Ricardo Martinez
    Phone 800-424-9393

If you have been involved in a rollover accident in one of the above
vehicles, send a letter with your name, address, and description of
your accident to:

    Trooper/SLX Rollover                      Center for Auto Safety
    Consumers Union                           (Re: Trooper/SLX)
    101 Truman Avenue                         2001 S Street, NW, Suite 410
    Yonkers, NY 10703                         Washington, DC 20009-1160

    400 Seventh St., SW
    Washington, DC 20590
    Attn: Honorable Ricardo Martinez
    Phone 800-424-9393