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GM halts crossover sales over MPG label misprint

by Justin King

The company has blamed overstated MPG ratings on an \"inadvertent error.\"

General Motors has issued a sales halt for nearly 60,000 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave crossovers sitting in dealer inventory.

The action is not related to a defect, but rather a misleading fuel-efficiency sticker attached to each 2016 vehicle. The labels are said to show ratings "1-2 mpg higher than it should have been," according to a dealer memo cited by Automotive News.

"GM is stopping sale of the affected models until a corrected label is printed and affixed," dealers were told.

The automaker has blamed an inadvertent "data transmission" error that led to incorrect figures on both front- and all-wheel drive variants. The FWD crossovers should show city/highway ratings of 15/22 mpg, however the window stickers currently list 17/24 mpg.

The botched labels shed light on an unexplained downgrade in the crossovers' mpg ratings from the 2015 to 2016 model year. All are equipped by the same 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission, but the rating mysteriously dropped from 17/24 mpg in 2015 to 15/22 mpg for 2016. The AWD variants followed the same trend, falling from 16/23 mpg to 15/22 mpg.

A GM spokesman told AN that changes were made from 2015 to 2016 that resulted in the mpg discrepancy, however the company has not yet disclosed specific details. The explanation will certainly be met with skepticism, as mpg downgrades are nearly always associated with overestimate corrections.

The EPA last year issued new guidelines designed to improve MPG accuracy. The changes include recommendations for tire wear and vehicle break-in, while calling for 'road load' tests to be performed at 70 mph rather than 50 mph. Notably, the suggestions are not yet binding and merely foreshadow formal rule changes that could take years to put on the books.

GM reportedly notified the EPA voluntarily when the error was discovered. The agency has asked for more information, hinting at a deeper investigation.

It is too early to tell if regulators plan to punish the company for the screwup. Tens of thousands of mislabeled vehicles have already been purchased, and some buyers will likely push for compensation.

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