Suzuki Motor Corp. did the right thing by settling its eight-year legal battle and 16-year feud with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
The automaker proved again that discretion is the better part of valor. And it probably was a painful thing to do, judging by the passionate feelings that had developed. Suzuki received no money, no apology and little else to calm the rage of employees and dealers who had demanded vindication.
The whole thing started in July 1988 when Consumer Reports published a product review of the Suzuki Samurai SUV. The magazine rated the vehicle "not acceptable,'' reporting that its tests showed the Samurai had a tendency to tip over in turns.
After that, Samurai sales withered. Suzuki stopped selling the Samurai in the United States in 1995. Consumers Union boasted in promotional material that it had saved the public from unsafe products such as faulty child safety seats, defective kerosene heaters and the Samurai.
In 1996 the automaker sued Consumers Union, claiming that it had rigged the tests to make the vehicle tip just to create flamboyant stories and raise money.
Along the way the lawsuit was dismissed by one judge and then reinstated by an appeals court. Consumers Union even tried to block the lawsuit by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal without comment.