Hyundai has introduced an all-new flagship premium three-row SUV, the Palisade, for 2020, with seating for seven or eight, and lots of cargo space.
The robust midsize Palisade also brings exceptional comfort and roominess, technology, and safety, and replaces the Santa Fe XL in the lineup, with an all-new SUV chassis.
Palisade has convenient features such as power third-row seats and One-Touch second-row seats for lots of reconfiguration flexibility.
An array of technology including a 10-inch navigation display, wireless charging, seven USB outlets, second-row heated and ventilated seats, and industry-first innovative roof-based diffuser vents makes Palisade ideal for daily family use or fun road trips.
Additionally, the Hyundai Smart Sense technology brings an abundance of standard safety features.
The diffuser vents, similar to the type found on airplanes, can be focused, partially diffused, or fully diffused, and provide quieter air flow and more-uniform distribution of air.
The Palisade brings “new levels of all-road, all-weather capability, technology, safety, roominess and efficiency, all packaged in cutting-edge design,” Mike O’Brien, vice president of product, corporate, and digital planning for Hyundai Motor America, told a group of automotive journalists on hand for the recent introduction of the vehicle in Asheville, North Carolina.
And, “Palisade’s exterior and interior design clearly reflect its unique flagship identity with a premium, distinctive and bold road presence,” said Sang Yup Lee, head of Hyundai’s Design Center.
Three trims are available, with each successive one building on the previous: the basic SE, $31,550 with no options available; SEL, $33,500 with two packages and four options available; and Limited (my tester, $44,700,fully loaded). Ten accessories are offered for all trims, such as mudguards,$120; a cargo tray, $150; and a tow hitch, $395 (handles up to 5,000 pounds). HTRAC all-wheel drive adds $1,700 (my Palisade Limited had AWD).
Driver-selectable Normal, Sport, and Smart modes provide confident control in all weather conditions. Newly developed Snow Mode has special tuning for snow, to optimize available traction and driver control.
The AWD system includes a locking differential for challenging situations, and a wider range of torque distribution variability than many others, tuned to straight-line acceleration, medium- or high-speed cornering, and hill starts.
All Palisades are powered by an Atkinson-cycle 3.8-liter V-6, dual CVVT, direct-injection engine, producing 291 horsepower and 262 foot-pounds of torque – more than any SUV in its class.
Power is delivered to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic paddle shifters for manual operation. Shift-by-wire technology (flat buttons for gear selection) frees up space on the center console and includes automatic park logic that shifts into park when the engine is turned off and the driver opens the door.
My Palisade was Rain Forest (dark green/gray) with black Nappa leather seating. Six more exterior colors are available: Beckets Black, White Cream, Lagoon Silver (metallic sterling), Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy and Moonlight Cloud (medium gray/blue). Unique molding accent colors are tailored to the exterior chosen.
SE has cloth seats in Black and Gray, SEL has cloth or leather in Black, Gray or Light Beige. Choosing leather seating requires the addition of a Premium Package for $2,400. Limited has leather seats in Black or Beige.
The interior was accented by glossy black metallic denim-look trim on the dash and upper door panels, gloss black around the extended instrument/infotainment screen, and slightly diamond-textured satin silver on the console (around the controls and along the console bin with retractable cupholders, USB port, and wireless charging pad) and door armrests.
Main infotainment control buttons were integrated into a smooth satin-silver strip across the dash, with the same trim tastefully placed throughout the cabin. The door panels and upper seatbacks featured dramatic diamond-quilted perforated leather on the upper panel.
The Limited-exclusive wide, cascading grille, chrome surrounded and trimmed, was the first thing I noticed, along with the separated headlights featuring a bold vertically-connected lighting signature – Hyundai calls the effect “crocodile eyes” – with stacked LED headlights and angled LED daytime running lights.
A wide chrome strip accented the middle of the lower bumper. The powerful, creased hood met the corners of the grille, creating an impressive road presence.
Bold C-pillars and panoramic blacked-out side glass hint at the spacious third row. Chrome surrounded the window openings, then down the back of the C-pillar – a dramatic effect. The chiseled side was accented by silver door handles and silver trim on the rocker panels.
In the rear, the wide, stable stance was emphasized by vertically stacked LED taillights with the same design signature as the headlights.
Large LED turn signals on the side mirrors were jazzy as well as practical. The gloss black of the side windows extended to the rear spoiler for a high, elongated roof appearance. A dual sunroof extended over the third seat, providing a generous sense of spaciousness.
Bright twin exhaust tips were integrated into the right side of the chrome lower bumper. Limited-exclusive 20-inch silver wheels had seven double spokes for a feeling of strength.
The spacious interior was welcoming and versatile,with one-touch second-row captain’s chairs folding and sliding forward, allowing easy access to the power-folding/unfolding/reclining third row. Buttons to operate the second row are on the seatback top (also a lever on the seat cushion side) and on the cargo wall along with buttons for the third row.
All rows have USB ports, including two on the side of the front seatback and two in the pass-through bin under the front console,for a total of seven.
A conversation mirror enabled the driver to see rear passengers, and a Driver Talk in-car intercom system allowed the driver to communicate to rear passengers via the audio system. A Rear Sleep Mode allows front passengers to listen to audio with the rear speakers muted – in case the kids quiet down and nap or don’t like your choice of music.
Seatbelt connection notification to the driver is active in every seating position.
With generous under-hood insulation, special sound-deadening carpets and powertrain tuning, the cabin was quiet for enjoying conversation or excellent audio from the Harmon Kardon premium audio, including SiriusXM.
The 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen along with a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster with a variety of view modes and distinct drive mode illuminations stretched across the driver’s side of the cockpit.
A Head-Up Display on the windshield included speed,Smart Cruise Control (with stop-and-go) status, navigation, Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (with pedestrian detection), speed limits, Lane Following Assist, and audio system data.
A class-exclusive Blind View Monitor complemented the standard Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, showing a video feed of blind spots on the left or right side of the vehicle on either the left or right side of the instrument cluster when a turn signal was activated – a very handy feature, especially around corners. The navigation system supported Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Hyundai Blue Link Connected Car System was complimentary for three years, with features like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Recovery, accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror; plus MyHyundai.com, Blue Link smartphone app, Amazon Alexa Blue Link skill and Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features are available through a smartwatch app.
Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, and Safe Exit Assist were standard on my Palisade Limited. Safe Exit detects traffic approaching from the rear and cautions the driver when passengers attempt to open the door, using visual and audio warnings. The driver cannot deactivate the electronic Child Safety Lock or unlock the rear doors until the road is clear.
Rear Occupant Alert monitors the rear seat with an ultrasonic sensor to detect the movement of children or pets. The driver gets an alert in the message center when the vehicle is turned off. If the driver leaves and locks the vehicle, the horn will honk, and a Blue Link alert will be sent to a connected smartphone. Besides preventing children or pets being left behind, the system will also help in case children accidentally lock themselves in.
Palisade’s rigid structure with advanced high-strength steel in key areas is lighter and stronger for more occupant protection.
My Palisade was good-looking inside and out, very comfortable for a long road trip, versatile – lots of storage, including 16 cupholders, and mini pockets on the front seatbacks for digital devices, and multiple cargo/passenger configurations.
It was fun to drive, and surprisingly economical for a seven-passenger vehicle.
EPA mileage ratings are 19 mpg city/24 highway/21combined. I averaged 23.8 mpg driving mostly on the highway.
Carpeted floor mats added $160 to the base price of$46,400. With destination charges of $1,045, the delivered price was $47,605.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.