2020 Hyundai Palisade: This New SUV Means Business

Published on July 25, 2019 in Test Drives by Frédéric Mercier

In order to be a serious player on the North American market, automakers can no longer afford to shy away from large SUVs. The people at Hyundai know it and they want their piece of the pie, too.

Meet the all-new 2020 Palisade, a three-row SUV that replaces the old Santa Fe XL in the Korean manufacturer’s lineup and uses the same platform as the equally new Kia Telluride.

While the latter opts for a muscular appearance with big, rectangular headlights, the Palisade has a more rounded silhouette. The giant front grille features a striking chrome surround and mostly eclipses the thin LED headlights. Whether you like it or not, you have to applaud Hyundai for this bold approach.

Photo: Frédéric Mercier

A Surprising Engine
Similar to the Telluride, the Hyundai Palisade relies on a 3.8-litre V6 engine delivering 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than enough to enjoy pleasant acceleration and passing manoeuvres.

Using an Atkinson-cycle design and mated to a sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine proves surprisingly fuel-efficient. We left Montreal for a long road trip across La Belle Province and recorded an average of 9.7 L/100 km. Not bad for such a spacious SUV.

Family-friendly Interior
Speaking of space, the Palisade was designed with families in mind and, no matter where you sit, comfort is never an issue. Even the third-row seats, which automakers often neglect, offer ample legroom. Optionally, there’s a clever system that makes access easier by folding and sliding the second row forward at the push of a button.

Photo: Frédéric Mercier

Up front, the dashboard features a horizontal layout with plenty of storage—another advantage for families. The traditional shifter has been replaced by a series of buttons and a big rotary dial lets you choose between seven different drive modes. Yep, seven. Just above is a 10.25-inch touchscreen with a smartly designed and easy-to-use infotainment system.

The only real complaint inside the Palisade is that some of the materials feel cheaper and don’t match the overall quality of the vehicle.

Photo: Frédéric Mercier

More Affordable than its Cousin
Unlike the Telluride, which comes standard with all-wheel drive, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade offers a base front-wheel-drive model called Essential. It features a smaller eight-inch touchscreen as well as 18-inch wheels instead of the 20-inch units found on every other model. Pricing starts at $38,499 (plus freight and delivery charges), well below the Kia at $44,995.

If you want a bit more amenities and premium touches, Hyundai has you covered with the Luxury and Ultimate models. The latter is a regal affair with Nappa leather seating surfaces, heated and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs and a dual-panel sunroof.

Hyundai means business with the new Palisade. This vehicle is perfectly tailored to meet the needs of modern North American families.

Test drive report
Test model 2020 Hyundai Palisade
Trim level Ultimate
Price range $38,499 – $53,999
Price as tested CA$53,999
Warranty (basic) 5 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 11.9 / 8.8 / 9.7 L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas
Strong points
  • Lots of room and storage
  • Numerous technologies
  • Powerful and surprisingly efficient V6
Weak points
  • No turbo four-cylinder option
  • Some low-end plastics inside
  • Unknown resale value
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.5/5 The 3.8-litre V6 delivers good acceleration and more than reasonable fuel economy.
Comfort 4.0/5 Lots of space, even in the second and third rows. Access to the rear seats is easy.
Performance 4.0/5 The combination of the V6 and eight-speed autobox makes for pleasant sprints despite the weight of this SUV.
Infotainment 4.0/5 The system is smartly designed and easy to use. However, the 10.25-inch display doesn’t come standard.
Driving 3.5/5 For a vehicle of this size, the Palisade is a surprisingly good driver.
Overall 4.0/5 Like a breath of fresh air to the Hyundai lineup.
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