Consumer Reports Finds Faulty Release Inside Trunks of Lexus ES, GS

If you own a car from the last 10 years, you've probably noticed a glow-in-the-dark trunk release on the inside of the trunk. That's to help anyone who happens to find themselves inside the trunk escape from it. It's been a federal requirement for all cars in the U.S. since Sept. 1, 2001, following a 1998 summer where 11 children died from inadvertent trunk entrapment. Since its implementation, no children have died in the trunk of a car that has the release.

Consumer Reports noted the release inside their 2013 Lexus ES and GS sedans could snap off, however. One editor's 4-year-old son wanted to test (under supervision) the emergency release, which snapped off. The publication found that in the ES 350, ES 300h and GS 350 sedans, the release lever could break if you pulled it toward the driver's side of the car. Lexus parent, Toyota, told Consumer Reports that the Lexus IS has a similar release design. Consumer Reports spot-tested other test cars in its fleet and found no such issues.

Toyota has launched an “active investigation" into the interior trunk release, spokesman John Hanson told Bloomberg News. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, told Consumer Reports it's "aware of the issue and is evaluating available information to determine if additional action is warranted."

Reinforcing the handle or redesigning the plastic housing – which places pressure on the handle, if tugged toward one side, to snap it in two – should be an easy fix, but it comes at a bad time for an automaker that just issued one of the largest recalls in history.

Emergency Trunk-Release Lever Saves Lives
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Toyota has been slipping for years on its quality. Over the years, they have been cost cutting in areas where the consumer doesn't notice until something goes wrong like sticky window switches. Its unfortunate it has migrated to their Lexus vehicles. Guess they took "relentless" out of their slogan for a reason.


Pursuit of perfection?


I'd love to have a faulty trunk release handle instead of the two transmissions and steering rack that our 37,000 mile Chevy Cruze has required. My next car will definitely be a Toyota or Hyundai.

Davin Peterson

My 2003 Camry has a glow in the dark latch. It's a thick plastic one. However, the one pictured in the Lexus is much thinner one. Looks like Toyota decided to use a cheaper quality one.

Another quality issue for Toyota

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