2020 HYUNDAI PALISADE REVIEW

Cruising along the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, and it’s clear that one thing is missing: The road noise. The new 2020 Hyundai Palisade is the brand’s large SUV flagship and is cocooning in its comfort, and solitude, and its load capacity, whether human, pet or cargo is substantial. But at the end of the day, we were struck by its quiet demeanor. But that’s not all.

Currently the largest Hyundai in the driveway, it dwarfs the company’s more petite SUV/CUV offerings that include the Santa Fe, Tucson and their sedan and coupe models that include the Sonata and Elantra. It also takes current Hyundai styling and moves it forward for a more modern view of the future of the brand. From all appearances, this Hyundai brand is moving upward.

The new Palisade is available in SE, SEL and Limited configurations. We spent time behind the wheel of the Palisade Limited with its cascading grille, which is flanked by sculpted wings to add a visual strength that has appeared on the newest Santa Fe, as well. LED headlamps and Daylight Running lights add design cues that are unique in their appearance. A longish hood covers a 3.8-liter V6 engine. After examining its insides, all we can say is “watch this space.” There’s room for much more.

Past the fenders, sculpted sides are highlighted by chrome or brushed metal trim pieces. Clever use of bold C-pillars and panoramic side glass implies the third-row seating that lies behind it. Finally at the rear, LED taillight assemblies finish the look that is both handsome and unique, probably owing to the bold P A L I S A D E logo spelled out along the rear hatch. Speaking of that power liftgate on the Limited model, it has the ability to conveniently raise itself as a driver approaches it with his or her hands otherwise occupied.

Palisade in West Asheville

Under-bumper brightwork helps to set the Palisade apart, as do the bright roof rack and window surrounds along the Palisade’s flanks. At the Palisade’s roofline, a panoramic sunroof opens up to provide an airy feeling from the second and third row seating.

THE INNER SANCTUM

The inside of the new Hyundai Palisade includes a fairly heavy lift of technology that keeps it neck and neck with some competitors and totally surpasses others. Sure, there is the base cloth, mid-level leather and premium Nappa leather seating surfaces, but there is also the availability of both front- and rear ventilated seating. One-touch second row standard captain’s chairs slide forward to provide access to the three-passenger third row seat, with its power folding and reclining functions.

Hyundai Palisade 12.3-inch glass dash.

The front of the house includes a 12.3-inch full digital display cluster, with several unique features that are too good for other brands not to copy. They include the optional Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, which provide body-side views from cameras located in the side view mirrors. Viewable in the Tachometer (Left) or Speedometer (Right), or even directly in the center between the gauges, it allows a driver to see what’s directly behind them in an adjacent lane change maneuver.

Another key feature is the Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert (ROA). A unique, software and sensor-based utility, it monitors the rear seating area using an ultrasonic sensor that detects movement of children or pets. Working in two stages, it offers a reminder message, on the dashboard, to check the rear seat. If it detects movement in the rear seats, after the driver locks and leaves the vehicle, it will honk the horn and send a Blue Link alert to the driver’s smartphone. According to Hyundai, it is designed to prevent children and pets from being locked in, and can assist in releasing children who have accidentally found themselves locked in.

There is a base AM, FM, MP3 audio system, but since we were styling in the top-shelf Palisade Limited, our example included a 630-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 12 speakers and Quantum Logic Surround Sound with Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology. Finally, for those with a fear of dead batteries and a thirst that needs constant quenching, there are seven USB ports and 16 (SIXTEEN!) cupholders scattered throughout the cabin.

And did we tell you the Palisade can haul all your things too? Behind the third row, there is 18.0 cubic feet of storage space. Fold the third row forward and that area opens up to 45.8 cubic feet. Lower the second and third rows together to yield 86.4 cubic feet.

Hyundai Palisade with Folded Seats

 

SMOOTH SIDED

Although slightly brick-ish in appearance, the Palisade is gifted with a relatively slippery 0.33 Cd drag coefficient. Massaged, thanks to a swept back windshield, as well as aerodynamically-smoothed underside panels, they work to keep the Palisade’s under-chassis turbulence to a minimum. The end result is a car that is both quiet and aerodynamic, relatively speaking.

THE DRIVETRAIN MATTERS

Currently (and we say so without any future knowledge) the Hyundai Palisade is powered by a singular 3.8-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 engine with direct fuel injection. Producing 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and an estimated 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, it can be ordered in front- or HTRAC all-wheel-drive configurations. Curiously, the smaller 3.3-liter V6 found in the Santa Fe XL manages to crank out 290 horsepower. Power for both versions of the Palisade drivetrain goes to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The HTRAC system is equipped with an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. Using a multi-mode system, it allows the system to switch between terrain styles using Normal, Sport and Smart settings for control under all types of weather conditions. The Sport setting takes advantage of the Palisade’s wide stance, and sends more available torque to the rear wheels. It is best suited to conditions involving straight-line acceleration, medium or high-speed cornering and hill starts.

Placing the HTRAC in Snow Mode enabled extra capabilities that were very evident during our excursions along the Biltmore Estate’s Land Rover Driving Experience off-roading course. A full-service course, it presents almost every situation that an off-roader will likely experience once they leave the pavement. In Snow Mode, our Palisade was able to negotiate deep ruts and log climbing, as well as the ability to traverse mud-laden pits, all while sensors adjusted the vehicle’s front-to-rear torque distribution, and left-to-right wheel slippage control. Finally, there is an AWD Locking Differential function for the most difficult circumstances.

And then there’s the towing capability: in Stock mode, the towing limit is 1,500 pounds. With the added capability of the available trailer brake package, the Palisade’s towing capacity climbs to 5,000 pounds.

The Palisade never embarrassed itself during its off-roading escapades. Instead we found a competent vehicle, capable of negotiating itself up and down most hills on the course. Sure, it wore its dried dirt and splattered mud with pride, almost like a child in a suit, with dirt under his finger nails. But to think of it as a roughneck, is a bit too harsh, we say. Extra credit should go to the Hyundai NVH engineers, who did their homework to reduce Noise, Vibration and Harshness throughout the Palisade.

HYUNDAI PALISADES SPECIFICATIONS

Type:                                   Seven or eight passenger large SUV

Layout:                                Four door plus liftgate

Power:                                 3.8-liter V6 Direct Injection Engine

Horsepower:                      291 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

Torque:                               262 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm

Transmission:                    8-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC

Drive:                                   Rear Wheel- or HTRAC All-Wheel-Drive

Suspension:                        Front: MacPherson strut with coil springs and stabilizer bar

Rear:                                    Multi-link independent rear suspension

Steering:                              Motor-Driven Power Steering rack and pinion system

Length:                                196.1 inches

Wheelbase:                         114.2 inches

Width:                                  77.8 inches

Height:                                 68.9 inches

Ground Clearance:            7.8 inches

Drag Coefficient:                0.33 Cd

Fuel Economy:                   19 city mpg/ 26 highway mpg/ 22 combined mpg RWD

19 city mpg/ 24 highway mpg/21 combined mpg HTRAC AWD