Hyundai’s biggest SUV is a 2020 SUV of the Year contender
- Tremendous value
- Stylish interior
- Packaging, storage solutions
- Adequate engine
- Tight third row
- Oh … that grille
Need a big family minivan but can’t abide the thought? The Hyundai Palisade might be your solution. With smart packaging, room for seven, and lots of thoughtful features, the Palisade delivers sufficiently macho looks while providing well for your family.
Before we get to the inner workings of the Palisade—a platform cousin of the Kia Telluride—can we just talk about the value story here? With an as-tested price of $47,605 USD, this Palisade Limited AWD is loaded with every (and I mean every) doodad, doohickey, bell, and whistle. If the Palisade carried a BMW or Lexus badge, it would cost 75 grand, easy.
Features editor Scott Evans described this mainstream SUV as “near-luxury,” adding that “the style, materials, and feature content are enough to go toe to toe with anything Buick or Acura can offer. The interior is nicer than some luxury vehicles.”
For a big SUV, the Palisade’s engine unfortunately feels a bit “soggy” (per Evans) in getting up to speed. Features editor Christian Seabaugh noted drivers will need to do “more planning when it comes to routine passing maneuvers. Thankfully, throttle response is adequate, and the transmission actually does a good job at upshifting and downshifting quickly.”
The Palisade’s ride more approximates that of a floaty minivan than a bumpy SUV. I found the suspension’s composure over big, small, and sharp jolts, bumps, and undulations to be impressive for a big vehicle—but there was tire howl around even the gentlest curves. Added MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina: “You can feel the suspension working harder until it sort of gives up, and you have more body movements at high speeds.”
As for those in snowy climes with downhill or uphill driveways or dirt-road access to their cabins, the Palisade comes with all-wheel drive, a locking center differential, and downhill speed control.
Then there’s its looks. The Palisade’s Predator-with-an-underbite visage is a challenge to confront every morning. “It’s as if the designers did the front end during a night on the town in Gangnam-gu,” guest judge Johan de Nysschen said, “and inspired by the glitz and glam, they didn’t know when to stop.”
Inside the Palisade, however, de Nysschen was more complimentary: “It has an attractive, modern interior design with good packaging.”
Senior production editor (and noticer of all things practical) Zach Gale was keen on the smart interior solutions: “The storage under the center console will become extremely useful for buyers. On a test drive, you won’t think much of it, but over time? Trust me.”
The center console inlay detail approximates the foil head of a Remington electric shaver—a joy for the fidgety. In regard to the seats, one person’s “firm” is another’s “shockingly uncomfortable,” as Seabaugh pointed out. What road rot the suspension doesn’t absorb is transmitted directly through the seats to the occupants. “Did you forget the cushioning, Hyundai? I’m ready for a massage.”
The second row, with its seats that slide fore and aft, feels slightly roomier than the Ford Explorer’s. The third row—the crucible for seven-seat SUVs—is a challenge for the Palisade, with adults’ knees up rather high. Smart touch: Built-in grab handles in the second row help people get to the way back. But road noise creeps in, Evans said: “The rear cabin is a bit boomy, and I’m often checking to see if a rear window is cracked open.”
Clever touches include phone pockets, smartly located USB ports, and a turn-signal-activated instrument panel screen that shows a camera view of your blind spots as you change lanes.
Overall, this is a crossover for the practical buyer, Detroit editor Alisa Priddle said: “Thoughtful touches, not driving dynamics, are the reason to buy this.”
|2020 Hyundai Palisade HTRAC|
|Base Price/As Tested||$34,295/$47,605|
|Power (SAE net)||291 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||262 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||7.1 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.3 sec @ 89.1 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||129 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.74 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||28.3 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||19/24/21 mpg|