Consumer Reports: Sorry, Toyota, You Can't Borrow Our Test Track

Consumer Reports, which is published by Consumers Union just like good old Consumerist, has declined to allow Toyota to borrow its test track to replicate the findings that led the organization to issue a “Don’t Buy” rating on a Lexus SUV.

We’ll leave it up to Ken Weine, vice president for communications at Consumers Union, to explain why. Here is what he told the New York Times:

“We test for consumers,” Mr. Weine said. “They are our constituency. We don’t test for manufacturers or the government. We do not replicate tests for manufacturers or the government or anybody else.”

Mr. Weine explained that Consumer Reports tested thousands of products a year, and often the manufacturers were not pleased with the results. “We do engage in dialogue with them,” he said, “but it would not be possible or appropriate for us to spend our time or resources replicating tests for manufacturers when we describe exactly how they can do it themselves.”

He said the magazine shared information with the manufacturers and the government, including all the specifications of its tests.

“Yesterday, the guys from the track were on the phone with Toyota,” Mr. Weine said. “We showed them all the data,” he added, including video footage.

Toyota is apparently not hugely pleased with this, but it’s a longstanding policy and Consumer Reports isn’t going to change it now.

“Our engineers stated that they do similar testing and development, but the radius is not as dramatic,” [a Toyota spokesperson] said. “Definitely the Consumer Reports test is a lot more aggressive than the in-house testing.”

The first step in Toyota’s investigation, Mr. Kwong said, was reproducing the slide. “Once they duplicate it, then they can start the analysis,” he said. “O.K., why did it slide?”

Toyota says they will be using satellite photos from Google and other information to reproduce the Consumer Reports track at their facility in Japan.

“We are going to try and duplicate it as much as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Consumer Reports Declines Toyota’s Request to Use Its Test Track [NYT]