2018 Los Angeles Auto Show – 2020 Hyundai Palisade Coming Soon to a Suburb Near You
Flagship SUV Features Bold Styling and Three Rows of Seats
Hyundai is jumping into the family SUV game once again, following up on the short-lived Veracruz and passable-but-bland Santa Fe XL with the bold 2020 Palisade. With seating for up to eight, the Palisade shares a lot of styling DNA (but little else) with the 2019 Santa Fe, as it rides on an all-new platform specific to the three-row SUV. Thanks to a variety of new features, it just might give Hyundai a viable rival to the industry’s best midsize/large family crossovers.
Hyundai's road to success in the U.S. has been a rocky one, founded at first on cars with questionable quality but bargain-basement prices and moving on to machines that are 9/10ths as good as their rivals for 7/10ths the price. But lately, the brand has been on a roll, with excellent vehicles and excellent prices. Is the Palisade a happy new phase for this company's soap-opera
The Bold and the BeautifulThe Palisade very clearly takes lots of inspiration from Hyundai’s current SUV themes, with a huge hexagonal grille dominating the front end. Like the Santa Fe and Kona, the Palisade has high-mounted parking lamps arranged in a thin razor swipe on the front edge of the grille. Bookending the grille are two-element headlamps, optionally fired by LEDs.
However, unlike the exuberant Kona, the front end of the Palisade is very restrained, with a smooth front bumper profile mercifully free of phony air vents and non-functional “cooling ducts.” It’s an elegant first impression that befits a flagship SUV.
In profile, the Palisade leaves a large silhouette. The bold front end is very square-jawed, with prominent sculpted wheel arches and relatively simple bodyside surfacing. The most interesting styling feature in the side view is the 2020 Palisade’s window trim. Rather than merely surrounding the window openings in chrome, the Palisade features a thin strip of shiny stuff that traverses the top of the C-pillar and the leading edge of the rear quarter window. It’s a surprising styling feature, a simple change that we really like. It also prevents the Palisade from looking too much like a Chevrolet Tahoe, given its squarer styling compared to other crossover SUVs.
The rear-quarter view reminds us just a bit of the similarly sized Kia Telluride, which rides on the same platform as the Palisade. Similarities lie in the massive rear taillights and upright rear glass, although the Palisade’s wraparound rear glass distinguishes it from its corporate cousin. There’s little fault to find in the rear view—we like the large, unapologetic Hyundai logo and “PALISADE” script on the tailgate, and it looks as though the SUV’s tailpipe opening is genuine, not a tacked-on piece of plastic.
All My ChildrenThe Palisade is incredibly spacious inside, with more first- and second-row legroom than the Honda Pilot and more third-row legroom than the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder. At 18 cubic feet, there’s also more cargo space behind the third row than Highlander, Pilot, and Pathfinder, and with the third row folded, there’s an impressive 45.8 cubes. The Palisade is also substantially larger in every interior dimension than the Santa Fe XL it replaces.
The Palisade is available with pleasant Nappa leather and smooth woodgrain trim, rendered in high-quality materials—the days of bargain-basement Korean interiors are long gone. The wraparound dashboard design reduces claustrophobia, and a floating center console opens up a little storage space underneath for purses, parking garage cards, and the like.
The Palisade also boasts USB outlets in each row of seats (seven in total), and there’s a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument display to complement the 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, and there’s an available wireless charging pad as well. Audio options include an available Infinity audio system with Clari-Fi and Quantum Logic surround sound. A heads-up display keeps pertinent information within easy access, without needing to look away from the road.
Helping parents keep an eye on their kids are a rearview conversation mirror and safety belt minders in each seating position, informing the driver when there’s a belt unbuckled. For rear-seat comfort, the Palisade offers HVAC vent diffusers, reducing drafts and noise while evenly distributing the climate-controlled air. One-touch folding second-row seats provide access to a spacious third row that can recline or fold for more cargo space.
PassionsGiving the Palisade a bit of verve is a Hyundai-familiar 3.8L V-6, optimized in this application to run on the Atkinson cycle for improved efficiency. The company estimates the 2020 Palisade will boast 291 hp and 262 lb-ft, the latter best in class among standard engines. An eight-speed automatic is likewise standard, outclassing the competitors’ standard six-speeds or CVTs (in fairness, the Honda Pilot is available with a nine-speed auto in higher trim levels).
Available in front- or all-wheel drive, the Palisade gets aluminum front steering knuckles and rear carriers, and a new front control arm design reduces unsprung weight. Hyundai also claims best-in-class torsional rigidity, a claim we’re wont to believe following our experiences in the robust-feeling Santa Fe. The Palisade is an eight-seat family crossover, so we’re not expecting legendary levels of nimbleness, but it should still be a pleasant handler.
Guiding LightKeeping the Palisade securely on the terra firma is a suite of driver-assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and prevention, and blind-spot monitoring and collision prevention with lane centering. There’s also a rear seat alert system, reminding drivers to check the back seats for parcels or the odd toddler. Predictably, there’s a pillow store’s worth of airbags: dual front, dual side, three-row side curtain, and driver-side knee. Extensive use of high-strength steel helps improve the SUV’s crashworthiness, and Hyundai expects top safety ratings from both NHTSA and the IIHS.
Predictably, pricing for the 2020 Hyundai Palisade has yet to be released. But the smart money rests on it demanding about 20 percent more than an equivalent Santa Fe. A base Palisade SE should start at about $30,000, with a fully loaded Palisade Ultimate demanding $45,000 or more. As always, we expect Hyundai to represent something of a value compared to its competitors, but with class-comparable quality in most of its new models, buyers probably won’t have to sacrifice anything for that discount.
The Santa Fe will arrive in dealers next summer.