Consumer Magazine Urges Recall Of Mitsubishi Montero SUV

By BridgeNews Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, says it believes Mitsubishi Motors Corp. should issue a recall covering all 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited sport-utility vehicles after the Montero tipped during testing maneuvers conducted by the magazine. Mitsubishi, in which DaimlerChrysler AG holds a 37.3% equity stake, is questioning Consumers Union's testing procedures and denies the Montero Limited is unsafe and prone to tip over during emergency avoidance maneuvers. Consumers Union said that it conducted testing of the Montero alongside six other SUV models, including the Ford Explorer, GMC Envoy, Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota 4Runner. None of the other SUVs tested exhibited a tendency to roll over similar to the Montero. "On that same day, on the same course and with the same drivers, we tested six other similarly sized SUVS and none of them exhibited any problems with tip-ups," says R. David Pittle, senior vice president and technical director of Consumers Union. "We believe that a vehicle that tips up severely in our tests is exhibiting dangerous behavior." As a result of the Montero's performance during testing, Consumers Union said Mitsubishi should "issue a recall and improve this vehicle's stability." Mitsubishi Motors Sales of America Inc. president and COO, Pierre Gagnon, disagreed with the findings of Consumers Union's testing on the Montero. He said the organization was using unreliable and outdated methods of testing vehicle stability. "We are disappointed that Consumers Union chose to attack our vehicle despite overwhelming evidence that their conclusions are wrong," Gagnon says in a prepared statement. "Our investigation shows that in this case their conclusions are false. They forced an outcome that misrepresents the safety of our vehicle, using a maneuver the federal government says is unreliable and not scientific." Mitsubishi said it hired a firm to reconstruct the testing conducted by Consumers Union on the Montero and the results differed dramatically from that which Consumers Union reported. "The reconstruction of Consumers Union's activities shows that Consumers Union violated its own procedures and aggressively drove the vehicle off course and at extreme angles, forcing the vehicle to tip up," Mitsubishi says. Gagnon stood by the Montero's safety and said his company would continue to conduct further testing on the Montero to see if a safety concern exists. "While we strongly disagree with Consumers Union's conclusions in this case, Mitsubishi Motors takes very seriously any question about the safety of our vehicles," Gagnon says. "We are continuing our investigation of this matter, and will keep NHTSA and the public informed."

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