July 8: Consumer Reports settles the Suzuki Samurai case on this date in 2004


Introduced to the United States in 1985, the Suzuki Samurai made an instant name for itself with a combination of bargain-basement pricing and real off-road ability, even if it only had 62 hp under the square hood. The good times ended a few years later when Consumer Reports ran the photo above, warning the Samurai "easily" rolls over in sharp turns. That story sent Samurai sales plunging, and Suzuki filed a libel suit against the magazine in 1996, a year after halting Samurai sales in the face of tougher safety standards. After eight more years of legal wrangling, the two sides reached a settlement on this date in 2004; Consumers Union stood by its testing, but proclaimed it "never intended to imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions." Suzuki claimed victory and said it would focus on growing its sales. That didn't work, and last year it announced it was pulling out of the United States, after failing to ever produce a model that caught quite as much attention as the original Samurai: