To say that the Hyundai Palisade is going to be an instant success would be an understatement. With its in 2019, Hyundai has made a statement that they are serious about competing in the full-size crossover market currently dominated by Japanese and American manufacturers. Several years ago, Hyundai had dabbled with the idea of the Veracruz and later the Santa Fe XL, but the brand remained focused on cars while the market was quickly shifting towards SUVs. This created a problem for Hyundai as their sales and market share began to slide.
Changes needed to be made and Hyundai committed to adding to their SUV lineup. With the release of the popular Kona (reviewed here), they demonstrated where their crossover design language was headed, and how serious they were. The Kona then became a sales success. With the Palisade, Hyundai did not hold back when it came to design, safety, technology and value. This vehicle has shown consumers that compromises do not need to be made when purchasing a three-row SUV at a great price.
On test here is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Luxury, sitting below the top-level Ultimate model. Hyundai had estimated that the cheaper Preferred would be the volume seller but they have been pleasantly surprised by a better-than-expected take up rate of the top two trim levels. Customers have been more than happy to spend a bit more money for the many additional features that come as standard on the Luxury and Ultimate trim levels.
The Palisade stands out of the crowd for better or worse; you either love the exterior design or hate it. The large grill stands out and makes a statement, and you won’t mistake this for anything else on the market. LED lights that run vertically to the lower stacked headlights highlight the grill even further. Massive 20-inch five-spoke wheels on all season tires are standard, and if you run winter tires you can downsize to 19-inch wheels to save a few dollars. Regardless, the Palisade gets attention wherever it goes.
The interior is where the Palisade leapfrogs over the majority of its competition and if you choose the Ultimate model, it can go toe to toe with some luxury brands. Our Palisade Luxury has been outfitted with second row bench seating that allows seating for eight. Leather seating is standard on the top two trims while cloth covers the seating on the lower models. The Ultimate goes one step further with Nappa Leather. White leather is the option here, while I personally would have chosen the darker tone as stains really come through on the lighter color. Soft touch materials run from front to back with the exception of the lower doors and panels.
The cabin design is well thought out and everything is easily accessible to the driver. Ergonomically, Hyundai did their homework. One piece of technology that Hyundai borrowed from Honda is the blind spot monitoring camera. However, they have improved it by having the system show both driver and passenger side blind spots. Hit the turn signal and a high definition camera shows a view of the respective blind spot in the digital instrument cluster.
Passengers are also pampered with heated and ventilated front seats. Second row occupants get heated seats and the third row has reclining seats; access to the third row is easy as can be. Seven USB ports and four 12-volt outlets are fitted throughout A 12-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system puts out the tunes and is controlled by a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen that includes standard navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the Luxury trim buyers will get the following and much more; a 360-degree surround view monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Parking Distance Warning, Safe Exit Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Font Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Attention Warning and Auto Levelling Rear Suspension. Many of these are not available to the Palisade’s immediate competitprs and if they are, they are options rather than standard fare.
Power comes through a naturally aspirated 3.8-litre V6 with 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. This is a smooth powerplant matched to an equally smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Leave the transmission in “Comfort” or “Smart” for everyday driving for a relaxed and smooth commute. Select “Sport” and the Palisade jumps off the line with authority, which will surprise owners given its size and weight. All-wheel-drive is also standard on this model.
Interior space in the Hyundai Palisade matches or exceeds its immediate rivals with 509-litres of cargo capacity behind the third row and 1,297-liters behind the second. Putting the rear seats down is as simple as pushing a series of buttons behind the third row. The tailgate opens automatically when the driver holding the key fob stands in close proximity, with no awkward foot waving in an icy parking lot. The tailgate also has two speed settings; fast and slow. Our tip is to set it to “fast” and never look at it again.
Fuel economy estimates are 11.9L/100km city and 8.8L/100km highway, with a combined estimate of 10.5L/100km. The idle start/stop function is a feature I normally turn off, as most shudder when engaging off and on. In the Palisade, I actually left it on as it was one of the smoother iterations that I’ve experienced. Our average over a week’s worth of testing was 11.3L/100km.
The Palisade is a well thought out SUV inside and out. However, it could benefit from a more powerful engine that could be optioned in higher trim levels. A turbo V6 could give that extra push that some drivers are looking for. The dual sunroofs are nice, but with competitors showing up with panoramic sunroofs, natural lighting is limited. It doesn’t help that the Kia Telluride (reviewed here) which is the sister SUV riding on the same platform, has a panoramic sunroof.
Hyundai Canada prices the Palisade at $38,499 for the base Essential model, which still comes with Hyundai SmartSense, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has a heated steering wheel and front seats as standard equipment. All-wheel-drive is an extra $2,000 on the base model. Our tester comes to $50,199 and adds all of the standard fare that most buyers want. The fully-loaded Ultimate comes in at $53,999 with no additional options.
When the Hyundai brand puts its best foot forward, they can compete with the best in the industry and the Palisade is only further proof of this. For those that are looking to move multiple people comfortably, with all of the latest technology and safety features available, you owe it to yourself to add the Palisade to the top of your shopping list.