Fisher explains that all car models from 2002 on have a glow-in-the-dark trunk entrapment safety release that ostensibly, should release a person from the trunk if they happen to get stuck there. It’s not like all cars are run through the kid test, but as Fisher says: “As the father of two young boys who love exploring every car I bring home and enjoy trying to fit into every small opening possible, this is of particular concern.”
His kids want to be car testers like their dad when they grow up, and had asked him about what the lever was and how it was used. They then insisted on “testing” it for themselves as he watched.
When they have tried this before, the boys would easily find the release lever and promptly emerge triumphant. However, that was not their experience with our 2013 Lexus ES 350 test car. My 4-year-old’s small hands snapped off the lever that opens the lid. He was not able to escape from the trunk until I opened it from the outside.
He then tried the levers on two other Lexus sedans, the ES 300H and GS 350. The 300H’s lever worked okay when it was pulled straight or to the passenger side of the vehicle, but snapped off easily when turned to the driver’s side. The 350 test car failed in the same way.
Consumer Reports notified both Lexus and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the problem. The NHTSA responded that it “is aware of the issue and is evaluating available information to determine if additional action is warranted.”
A representative from Toyota, which builds Lexus models, said:
“Upon hearing the information from Consumer Reports, we immediately began investigating the durability and ergonomics of the emergency trunk release lever. This is an active investigation and we cannot provide more details at this time.”
On that note — don’t let your kids play in the trunk and leave your car locked when no one is in it. Just in case.
Check out the testing video below:
Emergency trunk release fails on Lexus test cars [Consumer Reports]