Consumer Reports magazine offered potential SUV buyers a tip Wednesday: Don’t buy the the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited unless you want to get to your destination upside-down.

Giving out its first "not acceptable" rating to a car since 1996, the magazine warned that the sport utility vehicle tipped over on two wheels at about 37 mph during tests, and urged the a recall of the 2001 Montero.

``If you're shopping for an SUV, we advise you not to buy the 2001 Montero Limited until the safety problem has been corrected,'' the magazine said

The vehicle tipped over in eight of nine emergency-handling tests and ``would likely have rolled over if not for the safety outriggers,'' side struts installed especially for the tests, Consumer Reports said.

Mitsubishi Disagrees

The magazine article included a rebuttal from Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America.

``We have devoted thousands of hours to designing and testing the 2001 Montero Limited, including a full range of tests for handling and stability safety that are well-known and widely used in the industry,'' the manufacturer said. ``All of these tests validated the 2001 Montero Limited's stability and safety.''

The magazine’s rating applies only to the 2001 Montero Limited, not to previous Monteros or to the Montero Sport or Montero XLS. Consumer Reports found no reports of rollover crashes involving the 2001 Montero, but believes its test results point to an unnecessary risk.

Of 118 models Consumer Reports has tested during the past 13 years, only three have tipped so severely during similar maneuvers that they were judged ``not acceptable.'' They were the Suzuki Samurai in 1988 and the Isuzu Trooper SUV and its twin, the Acura SLX, in 1996.

Mitsubishi said it conducted more tests after seeing Consumer Reports' results, and that those tests ``validate our confidence in this vehicle.''

The magazine and its rating systems have come under fire before. Isuzu Motors Ltd. sued it for its report on the Trooper, saying it lost $242 million in sales because of the rating. A jury ruled that Consumer Reports had included some incorrect statements in the reporter but did not award any money to the car maker.

In 1997, Daimler-Benz, which owns 34 percent of Mitsubishi, recalled and corrected the Mercedes-Benz A-class after it rolled over in similar tests conducted by a Swedish automotive magazine. 

-- Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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