By on May 19, 2016

2016 Buick Enclave

On the heels of a stop sale order and subsequent rush to reprint Monroney stickers with correct EPA fuel economy ratings, General Motors is working on a plan to compensate buyers of the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.

Seeking to smooth any ruffled feathers, GM expects to announce a plan to dealers and customers within the next seven days, according to Automotive News.

That assurance isn’t enough to placate some owners of the full-size crossover, as GM was slapped with a prospective class-action lawsuit on Tuesday.

The suit, which seeks compensation for buyers of affected models, alleges GM concealed the vehicles’ real fuel economy and customers overpaid for them as a result.

McCuneWright, which those of us with long memories may remember as one of the law firms representing customers in the Hyundai/Kia fuel economy flap four years ago, filed the complaint on behalf of Florida resident Sean Tolmasoff, who purchased a 2016 Traverse last month.

Tolmasoff “would not have purchased the Traverse or would have paid substantially less for it” if the correct fuel economy numbers were displayed, the suit claims.

Faulty “data transmission” is being blamed for overstating the fuel economy on GM’s full-size crossovers by one to two miles per gallon. The correct EPA ratings for all-wheel-drive models of all three GM crossovers are 15 mpg city/22 highway/17 combined. The incorrect label showed 17 mpg city/24 highway/19 combined.

After first failing to disclose why mileage dropped on new vehicles with the same powertrain as older models, GM told Automotive News that new “emissions-related hardware” was added to 2016 models.

Hyundai/Kia paid $395 million to settle their suits, which encompassed nearly a million vehicles. At roughly 60,000 vehicles currently affected, GM’s thirsty crossovers make up a fraction of that number. However, about two million of the things have left dealer lots to blight our landscape since they went on the market nearly a decade ago.

If past fuel economy numbers also turn out to be inaccurate, it could spell a much bigger problem for The General.

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24 Comments on “Thirsty Thursday: GM’s Full-Size Crossover Fuel Economy Woes Spark Lawsuit...”


  • avatar

    So basically, the entire auto -industry is lying about miles per gallon and most likely lying about emissions.

    The only man who can be trusted: Elon Musk

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The jury is still out on Musk, but I’d say there is a great deal of fudging in the auto industry, with a little help from a blind eye from the governments.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Musk can be trusted? Really?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        This feels like an isolated incident, just a dumb mistake, more than anything else. I hope GM is able to announce a fair rebate for buyers and avoid lining the pockets of so many lawyers.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Any buyer who believes EPA mileage estimates is a fish who should be told it’s all his fault, and he should pay for the replacement sticker. What will really hurt the buyers is that the EPA estimates are usually optimistic compared to real world mileage, and they’ll get even less.

          What gets me is how someone can think a full sized, big engine, AWD vehicle can even approach 20 MPG, except on long highway drives. The standard rule hasn’t changed: If you want to drive big, you’ll have to pay at the pump.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I can’t wait to see the lawsuit ads on the Justice Network, in between the commercials for Proactiv, and the ones with the Catheter Cowboy (“Boy, I’m glad I did!”).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “would not have purchased the Traverse or would have paid substantially less for it”

    Because a car’s price is lowered/negotiated by miles per gallon. On that basis, a G-Wagen should cost $15,000.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    With only $200 annual savings it’ll be $5.00 once the lawyers are done.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That’s unfortunate, because the Lambdas—even as they are now a full ten calendar years old—are still popular units at GM dealerships everywhere.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    This is really so friggin stupid. So who cares if the mileage is off by a few MPGs. Real world mileage is so off sometimes it makes those numbers laughable. Salesmen who drive one of these with samples in the back will get lower mileage. People who feather the throttle will be better mileage. That dueche bag who “wouldn’t have bought a traverse at 15MPG city” just doesn’t like his traverse and sees this as a way to dump it. Class action status is so dumb. But I’m not a greedy lawyer.

    • 0 avatar
      Menar Fromarz

      Seriously. What a whiner. He bought it LAST MONTH. Note to prospective purchasers: Go on Fuelly, see what real people in the real world get on a rolling average. Then decide if its in your acceptable range for economy. If not, find something else, or not, but just be ok with your choice. Frickin hell, we live in a world of entitled babies (note: not the real word I want to use), facing off with an society of apologists.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I trust Fuelly even less than EPA estimates. Who knows where those numbers are coming from. I can’t see the accountability.

        I’m surprised that people are defending this error as insignificant. Yes, we all know that actual fuel economy is primarily determined by vehicle size and driving style. That doesn’t change the fact that these ratings are very important to the government, to automotive marketers, and to many of the consumers.

        I drive manuals, stick to the speed limit on the highway, and rarely use air conditioning in the city, so my overall combined fuel economy has been better than the EPA highway rating for the last two vehicles I’ve owned. That doesn’t make the ratings irrelevant.

        I do think that talking about a class action lawsuit at this early stage is silly though. I expect the direct compensation will be suitable without the lawyers receiving millions while the affected consumers each receive a coupon for $50 off their next GM vehicle.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’m currently test driving gen 1 Sequoias as my next do-it-all vehicle (and future baby carrier), I even made a very brief foray into looking at these GM fullsize CUVs. It makes an interesting comparison to a GM Lambda, the two are closer than one might suspect in a number of measurements:

    Sequoia 4wd MPG: 15c/18h
    Traverse AWD MPG: 15c/22h

    Overall Length
    Sequoia 203.9″
    Traverse 203.7″

    Curb weight:
    Sequoia 4wd: 5300lb
    Traverse AWD: 4956lb
    Cargo volume (all seats folded/3rd row folded/all seats in use)
    Sequoia: 128.1/65.3/26.6
    Traverse: 116.3/70.3/24.4

    Towing:
    Sequoia 4wd: 6500lb
    Travese AWD w/ towing: 5200lb
    (My guess is that the Toyota with its RWD w/solid rear axle and much torquier V8 is happier at its max than the Traverse)

    Ground clearance:
    Sequoia: 10.6″
    Traverse: 7.2″

    So the big win is as expected fuel economy on the highway due to massively better aerodynamics and a smaller displacement motor with tall gearing, but it is perhaps not as big of a gap as one might expect, and their similar weight equalizes things around town, where the V8 works less hard compared to the lacking-in-low-rpm torque V6. Where I think the CUV argument falls apart a bit is supposed packaging advantages when compared to BOF SUVs. Having sat in all rows of both vehicles, I’d call it a draw in terms of legroom and layout. And as we see, cargo capacities are very similar, with an edge to the Sequoia in max cu ft. Caveat time: Sequoia’s third row doesn’t fold flat into the floor, they have to be removed and stored to achieve max. volume. The Traverse probably handles better with less lean, but I have to say the Sequoias I’ve driven are very civilized and smooth compared to my measuring stick of my ’96 4Runner. The Sequoia is (to me) ultimately the much more versatile vehicle owing to its massively better offroad capabilities. This is a non-factor to most buyers.

    basically entirely off topic, just ‘sperging out with some number crunching :p

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Now, one time not too long ago I mentioned the gen 1 Sequoia as a good, cheaper used car buy and I think everyone came and yelled at me.

      -Too old
      -Used up
      -Rust
      -Inefficient
      -Bad interior quality

      And something else about the engine having a problem.

      Got it!
      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whos-ready-party-like-2008/#comment-6196497

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Condition is indeed everything, last night I drove a ’06 with only 85k miles but it was a smoked in, rattling mess, with a lot of surface rust on the undercarriage. Today during my lunch I drove an ’07 with 138k miles with a super detailed carfax (local owner maintained it at the dealer). This thing may as well have been new, it did not at all feel like it was almost 10 years old in the slightest. Perfect shifts, smooth ride, spotless interior with minimal wear (cloth seats on this one).

        On Northern trucks yes frames should be inspected (Dana Corp screwed the pooch with rustproofing I guess). And yes the interior build/materials feels like a mix of old Toyota with some GMT800 mixed in. Comfortable, but nowhere as pleasing to look at as my old 4Runner (IMO). Controls are strangely scattered about, panel gaps are on the large side. A matter of habit perhaps, but I was able to immediately find everything on the 4Runner. Mirror control are near driver’s right knee on the center console as an example. There was a recall for lower balljoints, similar failure pattern to my generation of 4Runner, but easily addressed. 05-07 trucks have air injection pumps that fail, this can be bypassed to no detriment to performance, CEL can be fooled. VSC modules crap out, factory recall for this as well, I think Toyota picks up the tab? So a few things to watch out for, but nothing catastrophic. Even my fabled 4Runner has its short list of Achilles Heels.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Are you quite opposed to a Denali or similar? I’m guessing probably, just wonderin’.

          Agree on the condition aspect – I see many more totally ratty ones than not. One of those cases where you need to find a Grandparent’s Last Ride. Like in two-tone pearl over graphite with gold badges :D. Or green over tan leather with gold badges!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            GMs would be a pretty logical choice, but man once you try a roll down rear tailgate window in an SUV you can’t go back! That narrows the field down to three: Sequoia, 4Runner, Tundra CrewMax. I made sure to test it on the Sequoia, sure enough: perfectly non-turbulent airflow on the highway at 65+mph with the moonroof open and the rear window all the way down, not loud whatsoever. Priceless option IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That makes perfect gtem sense! LOL

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, first off, I doubt that it was a customer who was dis-satisfied. It was a plaintiff’s lawyer who saw an opportunity and who knows that the first lawyer to file one of these cases usually gets “control” of the whole mess and a bigger share of the multi-million dollar attorney fee pile.

    That said, something as large as these CUVs claiming to get 24 mpg in AWD form with a gasoline engine would certainly attract the fuel economy shopper’s attention. Since, as others have noted, it’s pretty hard to do better than 22 mpg on the highway with a vehicle of this size and type. Even my ’08 Honda Pilot is lucky to get 22 mpg under ideal highway conditions (i.e. less than 65 mph, reasonably flat terrain and not fully loaded).

    As for those who argue that the EPA tests are meaningless because they don’t replicate real-world experience; I disagree. At least the EPA test is a uniform yardstick applied to all vehicles. However, I am concerned that Ford’s “ecoboost” turbocharged engines seem to fall much farther from the EPA mark in real-world use than other engines of similar power ratings. No doubt it is possible to program any engine for optimum fuel economy when following the EPA test driving profile — but the answer to that may be to change the test not penalize the manufacture who “teaches to the test” without the sneaky stuff that VW did with its diesels. Perhaps, for example, the acceleration profile of the EPA test is more gentle than the way most people drive. So, under the test, a small turbocharged engine stays off boost; but in the real world most drivers invoke the boost to get the acceleration they want. The answer, in that case, would call for the test to make the cars accelerate more rapidly. Then small displacement, boosted engines pushing heavy vehicles might not do so well.

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