Model tested: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited AWD
Engine: 3.8-liter V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Torque: 262 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 19/city, 24/highway, 21/combined
Base price: $46,400
As tested: $47,605
Overview: The all-new 2020 Hyundai Palisade is the Korean automaker’s first foray into the hypercompetitive midsize, three-row-SUV market segment. This midsize three-row SUV — which features seven- and eight-passenger configurations — shares its structure, drivetrain and most other features with its sibling, the multiaward-winning Kia Telluride. However, the Palisade boasts its own distinct persona. With heavyweights like the Honda Pilot, VW Atlas, Audi Q5 and Acura MDX, plus all-new versions of the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander in its crosshairs, its pleasing interior, polite road manners, strong feature menu and seriously competitive pricing make the Palisade a very worthy adversary.
Walkaround: The large signature grille and vivid LED running lights create an intimidating sight in the rearview mirror. However, LED headlights aren’t available on the base SE trim. Also, the SE and midlevel SEL trim ride on 18-inch wheels, while the Limited — our test driver this review focuses on — rides on 20s. The Palisade features accented chrome trim as an essential design element. According to Hyundai, the “misaligned” chrome trim showcasing the C-pillar is meant to suggest strong, interlocking components.
Interior: The Palisade’s highly functional interior offers quality materials with excellent fit and finish. The Nappa leather in our Limited model test driver was simply beautiful. The cabin boasts numerous storage spaces — including an alcove below the center console thanks to the Palisade’s compact electronic drive selector. Abundant passenger space — especially in the third row — is a hallmark of the Palisade. An average adult male can actually reach there without being a professional contortionist and sit in genuine comfort. That’s thanks to highly adjustable sliding and reclining second-row seats — offered in both bench and captain’s chairs. The Palisade also provides a generous 18 cubic-feet of storage behind the third row.
Behind the Wheel: All versions of the Hyundai Palisade are powered by a refined, 3.8-liter V6 married to a smooth-shifting, eight-speed automatic. There’s plenty of power for normal driving, with predictable acceleration and timely shifts, but when loaded with passengers or towing the 5,000-pound maximum, some drivers may desire additional ponies. The Palisade offers both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations; plus several driving modes including ECO, Comfort, Sport and Smart, which automatically selects a mode based on driving habits. While AWD vehicles also have a snow mode, the Palisade’s HTRAC AWD system utilizes an electronic clutch, sending up to 50 percent of available power to the rear wheels. Under slippery conditions, HTRAC offers a 50/50 lock mode that evenly dedicates torque between the front and rear wheels. The suspension mellows out rough roads without impacting cornering ability and delivers reassuring stability.
Bottom Line: With a 100,000-mile warranty and base price within a few hundred bucks of the Pilot, Highlander and Telluride, the Hyundai Palisade is competitively positioned — and definitely worth your time to check out.