Review: 2020 Hyundai Palisade - The Best SUV From Korea
The Palisade is quickly becoming Hyundai’s best selling SUV. But why?
Engine – The only engine that is available with the Hyundai Palisade is a 3.8L V6 that produces 291 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque. It’s not turbocharged so peak torque and power is higher up in the rpm range which means a bit of revving to get the most out of the engine. When it does get going, the engine feels robust and more than capable of pulling the Palisade’s 2,022 kg weight. The Palisade is also capable of pulling up to 2,267 kg (5,000 lbs) of weight which puts it in line with other 3-row SUVs.
Fuel economy is not bad for such a big SUV with a naturally aspirated engine. EnerGuide rates the Hyundai Palisade AWD at 12.3 L/100km (19.1 mpg) in a city and 9.6 L/100km (24.5 mpg) on a highway. Pretty good numbers and unlike other 3-row SUVs, the Palisade doesn’t require premium fuel.
Transmission – Mated to the engine is an 8-speed automatic transmission that never misses a beat. Shifts are smooth and relatively quick for an automatic transmission. There’s not much to say about the transmission because it is a good transmission and does what it’s supposed to do.
Braking – Strong brakes with an easy to modulate brake pedal inspire confidence when bringing the Hyundai Palisade to a stop. There is a bit of brake pedal travel but that makes it easier to modulate which makes for smoother stops. Emergency automatic braking with pedestrian detection are standard features across all trim levels of the 2020 Palisade.
Handling – Taking a corner too quickly induces a lot of understeer and highlights the Palisade’s hefy weight. However it doesn’t feel like it’s riding on stilts. It doesn’t drive like the more sporty Mazda CX-9 but it doesn’t feel boring either. It’s in the middle.
Ride Comfort – In terms of providing the utmost comfort, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade shines. The suspension soaks up bumps with ease whether they’re big potholes or cracks on a highway. The seats further add to the comfort by providing good support as well as a soft cushion for you to sit in.
Interior Space – The Hyundai Palisade replaces the Hyundai Santa Fe XL which was the 3-row variant of the regular Santa Fe. Because the Palisade is on a longer platform, the amount of interior space is plentiful. Front and second row occupants have plenty of room even if they are tall adults. The second row can slide forwards and backwards as well as tilt the seat backs. The third row is a bit tight for taller adults but you’d be fine there for a short drive. Getting in and out of that third row is a breeze thanks to a simple one button push on the second row seats which automatically slide forwards.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Being a family oriented vehicle, the Hyundai Palisade is a quiet SUV. Engine, wind, and road noises are kept in check thanks to the well insulated cabin. There is also a “Quiet Mode” for the stereo system. What this does is mute the rear speakers if you have children sleeping in the back seats. A nice feature to have on those long family trips.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Hyundai vehicles in recent years have offered a lot of standard features with a reasonable price. The Hyundai Palisade is no different with a host of standard and convenience features such as Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, heated seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision alert with emergency automatic braking, and bluetooth to name a few.
Opt for this Ultimate trim as tested and you get the features that one would expect from a top trim SUV such as surround view cameras, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front and rear second row seats, heads-up display, blind spot sensors with blind zone cameras, a 10.25” touchscreen infotainment, and wireless phone charging to name a few.
Exterior Design – The Hyundai Palisade is a bold looking SUV. It’s hard to miss the large and striking grille with LED daytime running lights that run from the top to bottom. In fact, the entire exterior lighting has funky touches like the integrated turn signals in the mirrors and the rear taillights that have a fading LED light design. You can spend hours soaking in all of the subtle design cues.
Interior Design – The interior also has a few unique design cues but not to the same extent as the exterior. The most striking design is the gear selector which takes inspiration from the Hyundai Nexo. The rest of the interior design is fairly normal with physical buttons for climate controls and some infotainment controls.
One funky design that brought out my inner child is the design of the cupholders. They can allow for more space in the center console or, at the touch of a button, can spin to provide a place for you to put your drink.
The FWD variant of the Palisade starts at a reasonable $38,499 CAD ($31,550 USD) while this top Ultimate AWD trim as tested comes in at $53,999 CAD ($46,400 USD). The range in pricing mirrors that of the Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 but the Pilot does have a slightly higher starting price. So where does the Palisade stand? Right in the middle. It’s not as fun to drive as the Mazda but better than the Honda. However, it is a better family SUV than the Mazda but not quite as good as the Honda. The Hyundai Palisade is the best of both worlds.