Talk about a strange occurrence: a potential safety flaw with Lexus’ new ES and GS sedans’ trunk release mechanisms was uncovered by Consumer Reports after a test car briefly entrapped a four-year-old tester.
Consumer Reports says that it was performing an impromptu emergency trunk release test when the problem occurred. Testing director Jake Fisher’s four-year-old son helps CR to check the emergency trunk release mechanisms, which use a glow-in-the-dark pull on the trunklid to allow a trapped passenger to escape. During the test of the ES 350, the boy snapped the release lever off, and was unable to unlock the trunk from within. Fisher had to cut off the test and open the trunklid himself.
The test in question was with a 2013 Lexus ES350 sedan, but CR engineers found that Lexus uses a similar mechanism on the 2013 ES Hybrid (obviously) and the 2013 GS; Toyota later admitted that the IS may also use a similar mechanism. If a trapped passenger pulls the lever towards the passenger’s side, the mechanism works perfectly. If it’s pulled towards the driver’s side, Fisher said, the lever could (and did) snap.
Is this enough to warrant a recall? It could be, considering that the switch in question is mandatory on all 2002 or newer cars, and we’ve seen recalls for lesser problems (like improperly labeled tire pressure/gross vehicle weight placards). Lexus said that it “immediately began investigating the durability and ergonomics of the emergency trunk release lever” upon hearing the report, but would not provide more details or an early assessment of the issue. Consumer Reports says it also notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which responded that it is aware of and evaluating the issue.
Sources: Consumer Reports, Lexus