Review: 2020 Hyundai Palisade brings smarts to the 3-row table
The Hyundai Palisade is a replacement for the extended Santa Fe XL. While the XL was a haphazard three-row, adding a bit of stretch to the Santa Fe to accommodate a usable three-row, the Palisade was designed from the ground up to have three adult-friendly rows of seating – and it’s definitely got that.
Several things set the Palisade apart from other crossovers on the market, starting with its upscale interior, roomy seating, large cargo area, and integral safety technologies. There are a few downers, including the hefty price tag and short list of trim choices. In all, though, the 2020 Palisade sets some new standards for the popular three-row crossover market.
The Palisade is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that outputs 291 horsepower (217 kW) to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive as an option on all trim points. The transmission is comparatively smooth and the engine is about the right size for the Palisade’s bulk. There are no other powertrain options for the Palisade, though it’s likely that Hyundai will add a hybrid option sometime in the near future.
The exterior holds a strong, bold look that speaks of refinement and balance. It’s a good design and it carries over into the interior, which is suitably comfortable without being overly luxurious. This upscale feel is a good note for Hyundai and something that marks the Korean make from its cousins at Kia. Beyond the comfort and very well thought out ergonomics of the Palisade, though, attention to advanced safety as a designed-in standard is also notable.
The Palisade comes with adaptive cruise control (which works from standstill), automatic high beams, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, rear seat passenger reminder, and a drowsy driver monitoring system. These are standard features alongside other convenient perks like tri-zone climate, remote keyless entry, powered first and second-row seating adjustments, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition, the vehicle has no fewer than five USB ports throughout. Upgrade options for trim levels only go up from there.
Those items come with a price, though. The base model 2020 Palisade starts at US$31,550 (plus delivery). Add nearly $2,000 to that for AWD. Having all of that interior space and comfort is a great thing and the large cargo space (18 cubic feet/510 liters behind the third row, 86.4 cubic feet/2,447 liters in all) is a boon given that the towing capacity of the Palisade is a mere 1,650 pounds (748 kg). That’s about half the segment average for V6-powered midsize crossovers.
Fuel economy is good, on paper, at 19 mpg (12.4 l/100km) in the city and 26 mpg (9 l/100km) on the highway. Getting those numbers in the real world requires some effort however, and most should expect to see one or two MPG points lower as a standard. Our average after a week of driving was only 21 mpg (11.2 l/100km) overall. Most comparable competitors with a V6 powerplant return closer to 23 mpg overall.
For technology, beyond the safety systems, the Hyundai Palisade offers the company’s latest infotainment system. It’s a smart, easy to understand touchscreen-based offering. It's easy to use and relatively versatile, with a screen that's clear and bright with good visibility in most situations.
Out on the road, the 2020 Palisade is a decent drive. It’s not sporty or fast paced, but neither are most entries in this segment. Instead, it’s steady and confident with a good feel and plenty of oomph for running up the onramp or getting through a light. Well-placed controls help with this confidence. Off the road, the Palisade is capable of most medium duty tasks in the dirt with solid AWD (when equipped). Honestly, the Palisade is more capable than we’d expected in this regard.
The three-row segment is growing fast in the US, with some stellar options coming to market over the past three or four years. Most comparable to the 2020 Palisade, in terms of usability and upscale excellence, are the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. Both offer similar interior appeal, good fuel economy and a similar drive experience. The Palisade betters the others in cargo room and third row seating space, but lags in towing and price point. All three are thus fairly competitive, as is the Kia Telluride we have not yet tested.
Like the others, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a great entry into the decidedly not sexy family hauling segment. It offers a lot, though, and hits the key points necessary to be a winner. It looks good and feels good as well.
Product Page: 2020 Hyundai Palisade