2020 Hyundai Palisade: worthy newbie SUV despite odd name

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With the debut of the Nexo as a 2019 model and the Palisade as a 2020 offering, Hyundai now sells five sport utility vehicles. The South Korean manufacturer doesn’t do much wrong. But making more SUVs isn’t much different than making more traffic.

There’s nothing good about more driving congestion. And how is it possible to find some area of the SUV segment that hasn’t been addressed?

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a worthy SUV.
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a worthy SUV. Image © James Raia/2019

Hyundai’s answer? The Palisade is the biggest vehicle it’s made. The carmaker’s flagship SUV, the mid-sized Palisade features a 3.8-liter V6 engine with 291 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage averages are 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 miles per gallon on the freeway.

Available with all-wheel drive and an easy-to-use mode for additional traction in the snow, the Palisade looks distinguished with a more pronounced front grille and vertical headlights.

But the name Palisade? What was Hyundai thinking? Its new SUV is a cliff on wheels? A tall automotive fence?

Regardless, the new SUV is thoughtfully designed for family efficiency and safety. The third-row, split-bench seats recline via a panel of buttons on the driver’s side of the rear cabin. The two center-row seats fold forward with a one-touch button. The systems are quick and ideal for incoming and exiting passengers’ ease or to provide a cavernous rear cabin.

With all seats folded, the Palisade has 86.4 cubic feet of cargo space. There are 45.8 cubic feet behind the second row and 18 feet behind the third row. Perhaps Hyundai could have named the SUV Leviathan or Mammoth.

Available in base SE, mid-level SEL, upscale SEL Plus, luxury Limited, and top-line Ultimate trim levels, the Palisade is chock-full of standard features and numerous optional equipment packages are offered. In its debut, the SUV is perched at the top of the industry in value.

Roof side rails, proximity key with push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission shift knob, heated front seats, a third-row USB charging port, a power sunroof add function and style.

A 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Sirius XM Satellite Radio and HD Radio, the Bluelink in-vehicle telematics system, 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, leather-trimmed seating surfaces, manual rear-window sunshades, multiple device connection and active noise cancellation stretch the comfort and safety equipment list.

A dual moonroof with shade auto-dimming, auto-folding side and auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a full-display rearview mirror, Nappa leather-trimmed seating surfaces and a full-color head-up display are also in the mix.

Every Palisade includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also an in-car intercom system, in case the driver needs to speak with raucous rear-seat companions.

And how about a real-time display of the car’s blind spots activated by the turn signals? And there’s also a standard quiet mode that mutes speakers for rear-seat passengers.

Such varied and comprehensive equipment immediately pushes the Palisade into strong competition against three-row competitors such as the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse and the Palisade’s cousin, the Kia Telluride.

The reviewed top-line Limited trim has an MSRP of $43,155 and vaults the Palisade to a near technology overload status. It also features a dual-pane sunroof, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, puddle lights, ambient lighting, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a surround-view parking camera, a head-up display and a blind spot camera.

Like most mid-sized SUVs, the Palisade isn’t particularly quick. But the ride is steady and quiet on city streets. And cruising at highway speeds is a worthy, comfortable journey.

So welcome the Palisade to the SUV jungle where everyone will know its name but should be more impressed by its actions.

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