DETROIT -- For only the third time, Consumer Reports magazine has rated a vehicle "not acceptable": Mitsubishi Motors' Montero Limited sport-utility vehicle, which the magazine says has a high likelihood of rolling over during sharp turns.
The Montero Limited tips dangerously in emergency accident-avoidance maneuvers where drivers swerve to avoid something in their path and should be recalled, the magazine said Wednesday.
"If you're shopping for an SUV, we advise you not to buy the 2001 Montero Limited until this safety problem has been corrected," Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, said in a statement.
Mitsubishi immediately criticized the test as unscientific. "CU's conclusions about this vehicle are false," said Pierre Gagnon, president of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, based in Cypress, Calif. "They are based on a widely criticized, unrealistic maneuver that can be used to force vehicles to tip up under extreme conditions. The federal government has concluded that this maneuver is unscientific and cannot be linked to real-world safety matters."
Neither Mitsubishi nor the magazine found any reports of actual rollovers involving the SUV.
Consumer Reports tested the $35,000 2001 Montero Limited, the higher-end version of the Montero with 5-speed automatic transmission, permanent four-wheel drive and some luxury amenities, which accounts for about 80 percent of Montero sales. It did not test the $31,000 4-speed Montero XLS, which has part-time four-wheel drive.
The Montero was significantly redesigned for 2001, changing from a stiff body-on-frame construction typical of trucks to a "unibody" or more car-like construction which generally improves ride and handling.
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