2020 Hyundai Palisade Review

2020 Hyundai Palisade - Palisade seats eight, inspires many


Now arriving at Hyundai dealerships throughout Chicagoland; an all-new three-row crossover riding upon all-new underpinnings easily distinguishable from smaller crossovers within the company's ever-expanding portfolio.  

Its name, Palisade, and this 2020 model year three-row hauler welcomes up to eight riders with enough USB ports (up to seven total)  to satisfy the sometimes fickle needs of second and third-row gadgeteers.  Android Auto and Google Car Play come standard allowing phone and App interplay through the center, in-dash screen.  It's the South Korean automaker's new flagship crossover classified as a mid-sizer, but skewing towards the spectrum's larger reaches.

The five-door Palisade competes with established three-row nameplates including Ford's Chicago-built Explorer and Toyota's popular Highlander as well as newer party crashers such as Volkswagen's Atlas and Subaru's Ascent. Palisade targets growing families seeking an expanded, versatile interior coupled with a dependability factor.  Overall, Palisade overachieves with handsome, expressive exterior and extreme attention to detail.

Hyundai's all-new three-row crossover also better distinguishes itself from its two-row 2020 Santa Fe sibling, both in dimensions and name.

In the outgoing 2019 model year, the 'Santa Fe XL' (extra-long) severed as Hyundai's three-row crossover, while 'Santa Fe' designated two rows.  However, from 2013 to 2018, Santa Fe 'Sport' represented a two-row crossover, set apart from the three-row 'Santa Fe.'

Palisade measures three inches longer, three-and-a-half inches wider and two-and-a-half inches taller than the outgoing Santa Fe XL. Wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) stretches by four inches enhancing handling. It's constructed from a uni-body, car-like structure with class-leading chassis rigidity improving ride quality and interior quiet.

Available self-leveling rear suspension, part of our mid-line tester, also contributed to the smooth on-road driving factor.  Front McPherson struts team with a rear multi-link design adding to a subtle, balanced experience.   Thirsty?  Sixteen cup holders await quenching the meanest of thirsts.

Three trim levels (SE, SEL, top-trim Limited) all enjoy front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive optional.  Entry SE includes eight-passenger seating standard with a 60/40 split second row.  The posh Limited includes a pair of captain's chairs in row two comforting seven riders total.  Middle trim SEL offers Captain's Chairs standard and three-row seating as a zero-cost option.

Even our mid-trim SEL tester included a luxury-tinged ambiance inside and out one could only image two decades earlier when this South Korean brand strived to pry away from a Dollar Store reputation.  The 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, one of the industry's longest, transformed the mindset while sales and dependability climbed.

The sole engine available: an all-new, naturally-aspirated, workman-like 3.8-liter V-6 power plant generating 291 horses and connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  

'Idle, Stop & Go,' Hyundai's designate for the more generic start-stop engine technology, comes standard. This fuel-extending system quiets the engine at prolonged stops, and restarts the powertrain once the right foot returns to the accelerator pedal.  If desired, the system may be disengaged via an interior push-button, but Palisade's design is less intrusive than many recently tested designs with minimal engine rumble when restarting.

Upscale Limited trims come standard with an intercom with audio streaming through rear speakers, allowing driver's an audio link to third row suspects (optional in SEL). A less technical but highly effective visual tool; a wide, narrow beveled mirror dropping down from the ceiling caddy helping to spy upon unsuspecting backrow bandits.

Palisade's large, bold cascading front grille gets outlined by a hexagon-ish frame sporting a satin chrome finish and horizontal machined slates.  Strap-like side door handles also include a satin chrome finish. Small narrow, square in-row LED bejeweled turn-signal bulbs flank the grille creating a brow-like effect while flashing an amber hue.  Both top large, lantern-like vertical-opposed projector bulbs with additional LED highlights and a huge C-clamp-like swath of LED daytime running lights.

Tail lights also borrow a horizontal plan integrating turn signal blinkers.  Side view mirrors also employ amber flashes in a sizeable fashion as secondary turn signal indicators. Additional side chrome framing begins at the lower A-frame, running upward to highlight two rows of side windows and turning downward at the C-pillar, creating a frameless effect for the cargo region/third-row area.

Our SEL all-wheel drive started at $35,200 with a $43,155 bottom line including a $1,045 destination ding. Also included, a $2,200 convenience package( 20-inch wheels, auto-leveling rear suspension, rear occupant alert and third-row USB outlets); $2,400 premium package( heated second-row seats, power folding-unfolding third row seats, leather seating surfaces) along with a $900 power sunroof and $1,250 in-dash wide screen with guidance package.  A front-drive SE starts at $31,550.

A row of large chrome-tinged buttons (hazard, radio, navigation, map, seek)  below the 10.25-inch widescreen-format touch screen serve as quick commands.

Connecting the lower center dash to beverage holders between front buckets is a smooth 45-degree 'floating console bridge,' home to several driver functions.  Towards the top and stretching the width of the slightly curved ledge, a narrow, ventilation system with dual temperature zone dials at each end.  In between the twist dials, a row of buttons activating fan direction and speed below a narrow digital window.  Below the ventilation system and towards the left side of the palate is the electronic eight-speed push-button transmission. Each illuminating gear position has its own designated rectangle, P is the only one set off left while R, N and D ride in a vertical direction.

Centering the console in all-wheel-drive editions, a circular dial to select one of six drive modes; including AWD Lock delivering 50-50 front-rear torque helpful during slippery conditions. An open region under the ledge is accessible via driver and shot-gun rider for stowing small personal items.

The SEL's high-resolution eye-pleasing, easily interpreted-at-a-glance three-dimensional instrument panel features two circular gauges and multi-panel digital window in between.

With third row 60/40-split seat backs prone, an impressive 18 cubic feet of space is open for storage business.  In addition, a wide under-floor cargo region is accessible behind third-row seating holding about 10 Jewel/Mariano's plastic bags filled with goodies. Fold down all backrests and 86.4 cubic feet await for transporting sizeable items.

With the rear hatch open (providing ample head room), third-row seatbacks power down and up via side push buttons.  Second row 60/40 split seats also flip down through the push of a button. The power back hatch includes two operating speeds: opening in 6.0 seconds or 4.5 seconds.

Accessing the third row is complimented by second row seatbacks that tilt forward while cushions simultaneously slide forward once pushing a button atop the seatback or along the bottom side.  The design is so effortless, a post-toddling four-year old may execute, instilling the confidence of a true grown up.  A mid-level molded side grip built into the frame adds entry ease as do ceiling handles.

Once contorting into the 'way back,' my six-foot frame had ample head room with acceptable leg room.  Three preteens could exist in row three, but no more than two grownup types.

The 18.8-gallon tank holds regular, unleaded fuel.  This V-6 engine returns average fuel economy with all-wheel drive versions generating 19 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway.  Add two more miles highway when selecting front-drive.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

Price as tested: $43,155

Engine: 3.8-liter V-6

Horsepower: 291

Wheelbase: 114.2 inches

Overall Length: 196.1 inches

Overall Height: 68.9 inches

Overall Width: 77.8 inches

Curb Weight: 4,284 pounds

Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway

Assembly: Ulsan, South Korea

Powertrain warranty: 10-years, 100,000 miles

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.