by Roger Biermann
Based on the same underpinnings as the Kia Telluride, Hyundai's new Palisade is set to take over from the departing Santa Fe XL in mid-2019. Its big, bold styling and three-row seating should shape it up to be an American family favorite - or at least that's what Hyundai is hoping for, having developed the car primarily for the US market. Boasting a larger footprint and seating for up to eight passengers in three spacious rows, the Palisade has second-row captains chairs available to seat seven as well. With three trims making up the new lineup, sticker prices range from $31,550 for the base trim to $44,700 for the range-topper. Powering all Palisades is a new aluminum 3.8-liter V6 engine with outputs of 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a Hyundai-built eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a choice of standard front-wheel drive and an optional HTRAC electronic all-wheel-drive system. Finally, Hyundai has a genuine rival for the Honda Pilot and Volkswagen Atlas, and with a fresh-of-the-line look and feel, the Palisade has genuine potential for rising up in the midsize-SUV ranks.
The Hyundai Palisade is an all-new model from Hyundai, set to replace the Santa Fe XL midway through 2019 as a 2020 year model. It brings with it larger proportions, space for up to eight passengers in three rows, and a new 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Other new features include a Mercedes-Benz-like interior design with a digital instrument cluster and a large infotainment screen blended into one large array.
The Palisade signifies a new era for Hyundai's design team, with dominant styling unlike anything else we've seen from the brand before. The centerpiece of the front end is the bold grille, the epitome of masculinity which is a fresh take on Hyundai's hexagonal cascading grille. Tall and broad with dual cross-bars and chunky metallic surrounds, this is a look that not everyone will like. Framing the grille on either side are split composite headlights, the upper section comprising LED daytime running lights and turn signals, with the main clusters located in a square-profile lower array. Housed within the rugged wheel arches are standard 18-inch alloy wheels, but optional 20-inch alloys are available that suit the size of the Palisade far better. Rectangular taillights, and a metallic lower diffuser housing dual tailpipes, off-set the parting view.
The Palisade, compared to the previous incarnation in Sante Fe XL form, is a lot larger and heavier this year. It is stretched three inches longer for a total length of 196.1 inches, and it sits wider by 3.6 inches than before, with an overall width of 77.8 inches. Standing 2.4 inches taller, the Palisade's 68.9-inches height is the same as the Kia SUV, while the Honda Pilot is just a fraction taller. The SUV's wheelbase has been accorded four extra inches, now spanning 114.2 inches, which is slightly more than what the Pilot is equipped with. With 7.9 inches of ground clearance, the new Palisade bests the 7.3 inches of its Honda counterpart. Curb weights range from 4,127 lbs in its lightest guise to 4,387 lbs depending on trim and drivetrain configurations, which is around 200 lbs heavier than the Sante Fe XL in its respective setups.
For the all-new Hyundai Palisade, nine distinctive hues make up the 2020 color palette, available to all trims and at no additional costs. These include Hyper White or Cream White, Lagoon Silver, Rainforest, Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy, Moonlight Cloud, Becketts Black or Black Noir Pearl. We like the Lagoon Silver, as it accentuates the aggressive lines of the Palisade; it also camouflages the rather tacky grey-clad border featured around the grille which looks too obvious when contrasted against any of the other colors.
The Palisade's V6 engine has more of a penchant for the mid to high range, as acceleration down low can feel rather lackluster. The 3.8-liter GDI 6-cylinder engine spurs the Palisade from 0-60 mph in a strong-but-steady 7.2 seconds, which is identical to the Kia Telluride and Mazda CX-9. It's not quite up to the challenge of beating the Honda Pilot, which gets there in just 6.5 seconds. Still, it's Sante Fe XL predecessor didn't do any better, so it's not particularly disappointing.
When equipped with the optional Tow Hitch, the Palisade flexes its muscles enough to tow a maximum of 1,650 lbs without trailer brakes; with the trailer brakes included, it manages a hefty 5,000 lbs. Both the Honda Pilot and the Kia Telluride can do the same. Additionally, the Palisade's roof rails offer a load capacity of 220 lbs for kayaks, bikes, or additional vacation luggage.
While overseas there's a diesel variant available, the US gets just one gasoline-powered Palisade derivative. Under the large hood rests a 3.8-liter Lambda II V6 engine, an all-aluminum motor developing 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, offering both more power and torque than most of its rivals. Power by default is routed to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift function, while there's optional HTRAC electronically controlled all-wheel drive available too.
The powertrain feels refined and optimized, delivering enough power to get the hefty Palisade on the go with ease, though off-the-line acceleration can feel somewhat feeble initially. This means pulling away from a standstill in town can be an unenthusiastic endeavor, but otherwise, once on the move, driving around town and cruising down the highway couldn't get more easy-going; power is ample and always at hand, and the transmission is discreet, yet effective.
The Palisade's eight-speed automatic transmission comes equipped with six drive modes, ranging from Comfort and Sport to Eco, while Sand, Mud, and Snow modes cater for off-road excursions. Though those modes exist, the Palisade's ground clearance won't allow the overly-adventurous type of off-roading that one would get in a Jeep, but the electronic all-wheel-drive system does adjust well to changing road conditions and surfaces, and the odd dirt road.
An independent multi-link rear suspension setup is standard, and while it errs on the firmer side of things - likely in order to accommodate a full complement of eight passengers without being overladen - it manages changing road surfaces, lumps, and bumps impressively well, ironing most of them out sufficiently. With a curb weight of over 4,000 lbs, though, the heft of the Palisade isn't well disguised. The steering weight changes based on each drive mode, but even in its heftiest tune, there's almost no feedback through the wheel. Changes of direction are well affected, but there's always a sense of weightiness to the handling of the Palisade. The on-center feeling is decent, however, and the Palisade does track straight even at highway speeds. Those accustomed to bulkier machines will find this one to be very polished and acquiescent.
With hankering V6 power and a hulking curb weight of more than 4,000 lbs, it's no surprise that fuel efficiency isn't a Palisade strength. With city/highway/combined driving cycles the front-wheel-drive equipped variant returns EPA estimates of 19/26/22 mpg respectively; the all-wheel-drive variant drops highway and combined figures slightly, to 19/24/21 mpg. The large SUV features an 18.8-gallon gas tank, which, when filled to capacity, allows the standard front-wheel-drive to range ahead 413 miles before running dry. Many would like to see a substantial improvement in fuel economy within this particular segment, as most estimates here are relatively similar, with the Kia Telluride returning only marginally better figures of 20/26/23 mpg.
Three inches longer overall, and with an extra four inches between the axles, the interior room in the Hyundai Palisade is substantially improved from it's Santa Fe XL days. Front occupants won't notice too much of a difference, but second- and third-row occupants certainly will. The third row draws particular acclaim as it can host most average-sized adults quite comfortably - a rarity in the segment. Headroom is generous as well, with more than enough for even taller adults available. Legroom, on the other hand, is a little more limited; but, there's some relief in available seat adjustments, as the second row of seats can slide forward, too. While the Palisade's exterior is styled boldly, the interior is far less divisive. It's simply designed, spaciously laid out, and most importantly - it feels one hundred percent premium, with an abundance of soft-touch materials and high-quality plastics used in moderation. It's no Range Rover or Volvo XC90, but for this segment, it feels and looks good.
The base Palisade will seat eight people as it is fitted with a standard second-row bench; second-row captain's chairs are standard on higher trims, reducing that number to seven. First- and second-row seats have ample space for even tall adults, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. Both head and legroom are generous, even though adults taller than six-foot may need to adjust the seating slightly for space around the knees - thankfully, third-row seating is generous too, and adults can easily fit behind the second row, as the second row can slide and adjust marginally. There's also a clever one-touch system to gain access to the last row. The array of seat adjustment up front also sees the driver in a good position with decent levels of visibility too. Considering the size of the Palisade, visibility will always be slightly impeded - a hazard of being an SUV - and yet Hyundai has pulled off a decent job of it here.
Cloth upholstery is standard in the SE and SEL trims where it features in either Black or Gray. The SEL is fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gets the option of Nappa leather seating appointments via its exclusive optional packages; Nappa in Black, Gray, or Beige - they all look great in this cabin. The Limited model comes standard with Nappa leather seating appointments, but only in Black or Beige. It also receives quilted leather door panel inserts, and 64-color LED ambient interior lighting to add to the tranquil mood.
The additional three inches in total length of the Palisade over the Santa Fe XL bodes well for cargo volume potential. Behind the third row of seats, there's now 18 cubic feet of cargo space - up from 14 in the XL - which is large enough to accommodate vacation luggage for a mid-sized family. With the third row folded - and we appreciate that the seats fold completely flat into the floor - there's 45.8 cubic feet to play with. With the second row folded as well, that figure swells to a cavernous 86.4 cubic feet. The cargo area is broad and easy to access, but with the rear wheel arches protruding somewhat into the cabin, a little interference can be expected when loading larger items from the rear.
There's an abundance of space available for small-item storage in the Palisade's cabin. The standard door pockets are large, there are seatback pockets everywhere, and there are no fewer than 16 cupholders - many of them with an anti-tip design. The center console also features large storage bins, thanks to the push-button gear selector freeing up space on the console. This is an ideal people carrier, with little nooks and crannies for every member of the family.
Standard features are bountiful in the Palisade, even in the base SE trim; drivers are presented with a 3.5-inch multi-information LCD display, a tilt-and-telescoping haptic steering column, and a manually-adjustable seat. In the standard eight-seater trim, the SE is fitted with a second-row one-touch slide function for easy third-row access. The SEL gets proximity key entry with push-button start and key fob remote engine start, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control. Seven occupants can be accommodated with second-row captains chairs installed in place of a three-seater bench. Additionally, a leather-wrapped steering wheel greets the driver along with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with heating, which is also featured on the front passenger's seat.
For the Limited trim, a 12.3-inch full-digital instrument display with selectable viewing modes, a heated steering wheel, and Nappa leather seating surfaces are installed. It also features a full-color head-up display, and gets driver-seat memory functions, ventilation, and extendable thigh support. Eight-way power-adjustability is added to the front passenger seat with ventilation too, and the second-row captain's chairs are luxuriously equipped with heating. The third-row seats are power-folding and reclining, and there's a wide dual sunroof with a sliding sunshade in the rear, and 64-color LED ambient interior lighting to round out the feature-rich cabin.
On base models, the Hyundai Palisade makes use of an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen off-set from the instrument cluster in a single dual-screen setup, mimicking those seen on recent Mercedes-Benz models. The line-topper gets an upgraded 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen paired with a 12-inch digital gauge cluster that completes the digital dash. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are standard on all models, as are USB and auxiliary inputs, and Bluetooth smartphone connectivity. There's also AM/FM/SiriusXM/HD Radio capabilities and up to five USB outlets spread throughout all three rows in the cabin. Higher trims also get access to a QI wireless charging pad. Hyundai has really thought out of the box too, and included some clever features such as a Driver Talk in-car intercom system to the second- and third rows of seating, and a Rear Sleep Mode that disconnects transmission of audio to the rear speakers, so that sleeping passengers can remain undisturbed. A premium 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system with QuantumLogic Surround and Clari-Fi music restoration technology is standard in the top-spec trim.
As the Palisade is an all-new vehicle, it's difficult to draw conclusions as to its potential reliability. J.D. Power accorded the new SUV with an above-average predicted reliability rating of three-and-a-half out of five, and though there have been no recalls or reports of early issues yet, only time will tell. It does, however, come with Hyundai's comprehensive five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty, and a ten-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty, which always bodes well for the trust Hyundai has in their vehicles.
The Hyundai Palisade has not yet been tested by either of the major government authorities, but with high levels of standard safety tech, manufacturers and buyers alike will be hoping for top scores; Hyundai has claimed that the Palisade will achieve IIHS's Top Safety Pick + and five-star NHTSA ratings.
In addition to seven standard airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and roll-over-sensing side-curtain airbags for all three rows, there's an abundance of advanced safety features even at the base level. In the entry-level SE, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist with lane following assist, driver attention warning, rear parking assist, smart cruise control with stop/go, is included, and a new rear-occupant alert system makes its debut. This is to prevent animals and children being accidentally locked in the car. The mid-level SEL adds on to the list of feature by throwing in blind-spot collision-avoidance assist and safe exit assist. As the cherry on the cake, the line-topping Limited makes ultrasonic rear occupant alert standard, as well as rear-cross traffic collision-avoidance assist, highway drive assist, and forward parking assist. The SEL can option these advanced features on as well.
The all-new 2020 Hyundai Palisade is an impressive evolution from the Sante Fe XL; it now positions itself alongside venerable class brands such as the Kia Telluride and Honda Pilot, from an already favorable position in its previous guise. For the family-oriented buyer, the Palisade offers impressive comfort, ample passenger room and consideration, convenient technologies, and most of all, top-class safety and driver-aids. While rivals may offer better performance with their beefier engines and sportier handling, the Palisade prioritizes a comfortable and easygoing ride, ideal for extended family road trips. It's also a competitively practical SUV, boasting a trunk capacity of 18 cubic feet behind the third-row seats, and a maximum towing capability of 5,000 lbs. The Palisade Offers superb value for money in its standard features and performance, even with average fuel economy ratings, and, even with a higher MSRP, we believe the Palisade ranks highly amongst its competitors already. It's a well-rounded vehicle, offering all one would need from a contemporary SUV and more, and is bound to establish a benchmark in the segment for some, if not all, of its design features.
Starting off the pricing an MSRP of $31,550, the Palisade SE costs a mere $200 less than it's Kia counterpart. In the middle of the range, the SEL is priced at $33,500, with a big jump to $44,700 for the Limited. The optional all-wheel-drive system will require a further $1,700 to be added to your invoice. These prices exclude Hyundai's destination charge of $1,095, as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees.
Even when equipping all the available options to the line-topping Limited, the total price will stay just below the $50,000 mark; in fact, optioning in the Tow Hitch and all other available accessories will only add up to an extra $1,225.
The all-new 2020 Palisade lineup comprises three advancing trims; inaugurated by the low-tier SE and followed by the transitional mid-tier SEL, and consummated by the top-tier Limited. All are stock equipped with a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel-drivetrain. An HTRAC all-wheel-drive system can be added optionally.
The Palisade SE kick-starts the lineup with a 3.5-inch multi-information LCD display, a rearview camera, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, and as the standard eight-seater variant, a three-seater second-row bench with one-touch slide function. Infotainment is taken care of by an eight-inch touchscreen display with an AM/FM/MP3-capable audio system, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Even at the entry-point to the range, hands-free Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-volt power outlet, and five USB-charging ports are made available. Keeping things safe and actively aiding the driver, the Palisade boasts forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keep and following assist, driver attention warning, rear occupant alert, smart cruise control with stop/go functionality, and rear parking sensors.
The SEL adds to the stock features by including keyless entry and ignition, remote engine start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and heated front seats. Designed as a standard seven-seater trim option, the SEL has second-row captains chairs. It also adds to safety and driver-assists with blind-spot collision-avoidance, and safe exit assist technology.
The Limited goes all out with a 12.3-inch full-digital instrument cluster display, full-color head-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, driver's seat thigh extender, and lumbar support. The second second-row captain's chairs are also heated, and third-row seats are power-folding and reclining. A wide dual sunroof with sliding sunshade, and 64-color ambient interior lighting add to the charm of the plush cabin. Infotainment is upgraded to a 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen display, and a premium 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system replaces the standard fare. Eight USB-charging ports, in-car intercom, navigation, and multiple Bluetooth device connections are catered for. As if Hyundai couldn't think of more tech to add, they also equipped the Limited trim with a surround-view monitor, blind-spot monitoring, ultrasonic rear occupant alert, rear cross-traffic collision-alert, highway drive assist, and forward park assist.
The most noteworthy add-on for the SE trim is the $395 Tow Hitch package, which allows the Palisade to tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs. Other cosmetics and minor extras can be selected too.
For the SEL, a $2,200 Convenience Package is available, which equips the Palisade with 20-inch alloy wheels, an auto-leveling rear suspension, LED taillights, front parking assist sensors, a hands-free smart liftgate with auto open, a seven-inch high-resolution cluster display, ultrasonic rear occupant alert, third-row USB ports, and a 115-volt power outlet.
A Power Sunroof Package ($900) can also be optioned on, which comprises a power sunroof and LED interior map lights. Additionally, the Premium Package, which costs $2,400, adds leather seating and interior surfaces, bi-LED headlights, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, driver seat memory function, heated second-row seats, power-folding and sliding third-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.
There are no specific optional packages available for the comprehensively equipped Limited other than the aforementioned tow hitch installation. A handful of menial standalone accessories are evidence as to how well-specced the Palisade genuinely is.
The Limited would be the ideal trim option from the range, but with a pricing point just short of $45,000, the SEL - which is around $10,000 less - is the more sensible buy. And, apart from the SE, the SEL has access to most of what the Limited has anyway via the options cache. Additionally, the SEL allows for a choice for seating, either seven on second-row captain's chairs, or eight, with a second-row bench. The SEL is an excellent choice, but - that said - we do recommend opting in the Convenience and Premium packages for the leather-appointments and added driver-assists in particular. For buyers inclined to be more adventurous, or those living in adverse weather-afflicted states, go with the all-wheel-drive configuration too.
The Hyundai Palisade shares most of its underpinnings and powertrain constituents with the Kia Telluride, so not much difference can be expected from these two well-rounded SUV's. In front-wheel-drive guise, the Telluride performs with better fuel efficiency than the Palisade in the same configuration, returning 20/26/23 mpg. However, in all-wheel-drive guise, the Palisade offers greater highway performance, with two figures above the Telluride. Both models otherwise feel pretty much the same in terms of acceleration and overall throttle responses. Both also offer a maximum tow capacity of 5,000 lbs; however, the Telluride gains the advantage in cargo capacity with 21 cubic feet offered behind the third-row seats. The Palisade offers a few more standard and optionally available features with its higher-level trims than what the Telluride does, but both models are similar enough for the decision to come down to preference in taste. Overall, the Palisade represents greater luxury, and the Telluride focuses more on practicality. We would pick the Palisade based on it's fresh, out-of-the-box character alone.
The Honda Pilot falls within a similar pricing range to the Palisade, and it comes stock with a smaller 3.5-liter V6 engine, making only 20 ponies less than the Palisades 3.8-liter. Not only is the Pilot faster with that engine, but it is also slightly more fuel-efficient. The front-wheel-drive variant returns 20/27/23 mpg in all-wheel-drive guise; however, the Pilot performs less efficiently in city driving conditions by a single figure, yet two figures more efficiently on highway drives. The Pilot exhibits some impressive handling prowess - it's not sporty, but handles bends better than the Palisade, something only the Mazda CX-9 pulls off as well within this segment. It too holds a max tow capacity of 5,000 lbs, but offers marginally less trunk room, with a cubic foot and a half less than in the Palisade. The new Hyundai provides more on-board features at the higher-level trims compared to the luxe tier trims of the Pilot, and the Honda's tech and driver-assist features aren't quite as refined as the Palisades. Still, the Pilot supplies a higher quality ride with greater performance and handling dynamics, along with a more premium feel and a longer history of reliability, which all together outweigh the Palisades noteworthy advantages.