2020 Hyundai Palisade Review

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a brand new mid-size SUV that is capable of seating up to 8 passengers. It replaces the Santa Fe XL as the flagship SUV of Hyundai's current lineup. Given Hyundai's latest track records of delivering exiting vehicles at affordable prices, I am excited to see its take on the 3-row SUV craze.

Thanks to Hyundai Canada, I was given the chance to test drive the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate for one week. Below is my unbiased review.

The exterior of the Palisade is unlike anything else on the market. The boxy, muscular frame is accompanied by unusual lighting configurations and sleek character lines. The front fascia of the Palisade echoes that of the Santa Fe, but looks more premium and grown-up. The cascading grille is larger and features a more intricate pattern. A thick chrome trim bridges the center grill to the lower air intake for a continuous look. Just like on the Santa Fe, the slim upper light housings, where you would normally find the headlights, actually house the LED turn signal lights. The headlights, along with the fog lamps are located inside the tall lower light housings. LED bars in both the light housings are vertically aligned to form the crescent-shape daytime running lights. The unique light signature gives the front fascia of the Palisade a very distinctive look.

On the side, Hyundai designers manage to make the car look light on its feet, despite the fact that the Palisade is a proper three-row SUV. A couple visual tricks were employed to achieve this. First, the door panels and wheel arches are carved for a layered look. Second, the D pillar is designed to blend in with the tinted third-row window and the rear windshield for a panoramic side graphic. A thin chrome trim separates the side graphic with the C pillar. The design creates a floating roof effect that keeps the side profile of the car from looking rear heavy. Each of the side mirror is decorated with not one, not two, but three turn signal lights. The large 20" multi-spoke alloy wheels on our tester look classy and expensive.

The back of the Palisade mirrors the front fascia with tall tail lights and the same crescent-shaped signature lights. The rear profile looks extra wide with the frameless rear windshield and the large metallic skid plate. The chiseled liftgate keeps the rear profile from looking bulky. The Palisade has a low coefficient of drag of 0.33. That is comparable to a much smaller sedan. The low coefficient of drag is achieved with a fast A-pillar angle, aero undercover panels, air defectors, as well as an integrated rear spoiler.

In my opinion, the Palisade is one of the best looking three-row SUV in its segment. The bold exterior is unique and more premium than the price tag would suggest.

The interior of the Palisade continues to impress. The clean, minimalist design reminds me of the Hyundai Nexo. Sweeping lines give the front deck a sense of width. That, in conjunction with the lack of a physical shift gear make the front cabin look even more roomy than it already is. Unusually high quality materials are appointed for the cabin. Those include quilted Nappa leather for the door inserts, patterned aluminum trims for the dash and the center console, beautifully crafted metal grilles for the speakers, and high quality switchgears for most of the controls.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive. Both seats are heated and vented. Riding on an all-new SUV chassis, the Palisade provide exceptional second and third row roominess. The second row cabin either comes with two captain chairs or a three-seat bench. The captain chairs in our testers are just as comfortable as the front seats. They come standard with seat warmers, but can also be equipped with ventilated seating surfaces.

There are two buttons on the second row seat to allow for one-touch operations of folding the seat back and moving the seat forward. The lower button is accessible for children with limited reach. The opening allows for easy access into and out of the third-row seat. For more convenience, the third row offers power-folding/unfolding and reclining seats. The third row cabin is a much more comfortable space to be compared to the Santa Fe XL. It might be somewhat restrictive for taller passengers, but teens and shorter passengers should find the seats quite comfortable even for longer rides.

It is clear that Hyundai is paying special attentions to the rear passengers. The Palisade features an industry-first roof vent design that can provide focused or diffused air to the rear passengers. I have seen similar designs in vans or on buses, but this is the first time I have seen it in a midsize SUV. Other thoughtful features include dedicated climate control and privacy screens for the second row passengers. A large, fixed-glass rear sunroof provides a sense of openness for the rear passengers.

Few midsize SUVs have interiors as high-tech and comfortable as the Palisade. In later chapters, you will also see that the Palisade offers tremendous practicality in terms of storage.

The infotainment system of the Palisade is centered around the 10.25" touchscreen in widescreen format. The frame of the display is beautifully crafted to integrate with the upper deck. Hyundai's infotainment system has always been one of the best in the business, and the latest iteration has gotten even better. It is intuitive, responsive, and modern. On the right of the screen are seat belt indicator lights for all passengers in the car.

The 12.3" digital TFT instrument cluster offers various view modes depending on the drive mode selected. Palisade also offers a class-exclusive Blind View Monitor, which provides rear facing side views whenever the turn signal is activated.

The optional Heads-Up Display projects a virtual image onto the windshield, helping the driver to better keep his or her eyes on the road. Driving information such as speed, Smart Cruise Control status, navigation, Blind-Spot Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, speed limits, Lane Following Assist and audio system data is projected at a virtual distance for maximum legibility.

Palisade offers abundant technology, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Two Bluetooth devices can be connected simultaneously, with one for a mobile phone connection and the other for audio streaming. There is also the optional Palisade Blue Link service. It brings connectivity directly into the car via smartphones with functions like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Recovery.

There are seven available USB outlets throughout the cabin, including two USB outlets on the front seatbacks for the second row occupants. If that is not enough, or if you prefer not to use the messy charging cords, there is also an optional Qi wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones.

Innovative features like the Driver Talk in-car intercom system, which allows the driver to communicate separately with the second and/or third rows of the vehicle via the audio system, or the  Rear Sleep Mode, which allows the driver’s row to listen to their selected audio without that same audio being transmitted to the second- and third-row audio speakers make the Palisade an ideal SUV for larger families.

When it comes to audio technology, the available premium sound system is well-suited to the Palisade’s upscale interior. It is rich and balanced for a pleasant listening experience.

Safety and Driver Assistance
The Palisade offers a great number of advanced safety technologies standard. They include:
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection
  • Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
  • Lane Following Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist
  • Safe Exit Assist
  • High Beam Assist
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go
  • 360 degree surround-view monitoring system
The following features is also available:
Rear Occupant Alert (ROA). - The system monitors the rear seats using an ultrasonic sensor that helps to detect the movements of children and pets. It is designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten in the car.

It earns the Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS, and is expected to receive a 5 star safety rating from NHTSA.

The Palisade is powered by an Atkinson-cycle 3.8L V6 with dual CVVT. The engine produces 291hp of horsepower and 262lb.ft. of torque. The powers are sent to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Compared to other SUVs in the segment, the Palisade offers more horsepower and torque. For such a big car, the engine provides an above average acceleration in a linear fashion. 0-100km/hr happens in 7.8 seconds.  The shift-by-wire system is smooth, and also includes automatic park logic that shifts the vehicle into park when the engine is off and the driver opens the door.

The car comes standard as a Front Wheel Drive vehicle, but is also available in the HTRAC All Wheel Drive configuration. The HTRAC AWD system utilizes an electronically controlled clutch to actively split torque between the front and rear axles. The driver-selectable HTRAC modes help provide confident control in all weather conditions.

The suspension system does a great job of finding the balance between body control and ride comfort. The steering is easy, but does provide some level of feedback. It is a car designed to hall people in comfort and style. For the intended purposes, the Palisade does an excellent job. For a car this size, the fuel economy rating is slighting above average. It is rated at 12.3L/100km city, 9.6L/100km highway, and  11.1L/100km combined. Our one week city test drive averages at 12.7L/100km.

Cargo Space & Storage
The Palisade provides plenty of cargo space thanks to its rather boxy design. There is 509L of cargo space behind the 3rd row, 1297L of cargo space behind the 2nd, and 2447L behind the 1st. The 3rd row seats can be folded and unfolded by pressing the corresponding buttons in the trunk. The 2nd row seats can also be folded via the buttons, but can only be unfolded manually. There is a underfloor compartment that is large enough to stow the cargo cover and the emergency car jack. Both the 2nd and 3rd row seats can be folded completely flat. In addition, the height of the floor makes loading and unloading long items very easily.

Inside the cabin, there are plenty of storage options for smaller items. The center console features a floating deck design to allow additional storage space below deck. There are two large storage compartments in the center console. One comes with a sliding cover, and houses two cup holders and a wireless charging pad. The other one is under the center arm rest and houses two additional charging ports. The cup holder design is particularly innovative. The inner retaining walls can be retracted to allow larger items to fit inside the compartment. Other storage options include multiple side door pockets, elastic pockets behind the front seatbacks, a glove compartments, and 4 dedicated cup holders for the third row passengers.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is perhaps one of the most exciting 3-row SUVs entering the market. After being criticized for being late to the SUV market, Hyundai proves that sometimes being a second comer has its benefits. Riding on a brand new chassis, the Palisade is more stylish, comfortable, and high tech than most of its rivals. One of the best attributes of the Palisade is, however, its price. With the MSRP starting at $39k and topping at $54k, the Palisade is a lot of car for the money. If I am in the market for a 3-row SUV right now, the Palisade would be on the top of the list.

Test Vehicle
2020 Hyundai Palisade Ultimate
$54526 CAD as tested
Moonlight Cloud


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