2020 Hyundai Palisade – First Drive
Hyundai has been pushing its lineup upmarket for years. First, with the Genesis model, which later spawned its own luxury brand, and now Hyundai is taking the same approach to luxury with every new vehicle they add to their lineup. With Genesis as its own separate brand, the all-new 2020 Hyundai Palisade is the Korean brand’s new flagship SUV. Starting at $31,550, this 7- or 8-passenger SUV is a great value for larger families.
Something for Everyone
The Palisade comes in three distinct flavors: SE, SEL, and Limited. Each trim is available with HTRAC all-wheel drive and comes standard with a 291-hp, 3.8-liter V6, and 8-speed automatic transmission. The SE trim starts at $31,550, making this 7- or 8-passenger SUV is a great value for larger families. Even the base model comes well-equipped with features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8-inch touchscreen, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Lane Follow Assist, which helps keep you centered in your lane.
I drove the mid-level SEL trim, which includes nice touches like seat heaters and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, a proximity key with keyless start, and 4-way climate control. The $33,500 SEL trim also offers optional leather seating and opens up a number of different packages to custom tailor which additional features you’d like. Some of these features include a 7-inch digital instrument cluster display, a 10.25-inch in-dash touchscreen with navigation, an in-car intercom to communicate with passengers in the rear seats more easily, and power-folding and reclining 3rd-row seats.
Carrying an $11,100 price hike over the SEL, the Limited trim is a BIG step up in luxury and comes standard with everything Hyundai could throw at it. Plush, pillowy, Nappa leather covers all three rows of seats while heat and ventilation are standard for both rows of captains chairs. A suede headliner is punctuated by two big sunroofs over both the front and rear seats, while full LED lighting for both the headlights and taillights and chrome 20-inch wheels all enhance the visual appearance. Both the front and rear seats come standard with heating and ventilation. The Limited trim also comes with a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster along with a head-up display, and Blind View Monitor to keep tabs on everything around the Palisade.
Hitting the Road
I could continue to bore you with a list of features, but you’re probably more curious about what it’s like to drive and live with. As you’d expect, there is a ton of space inside, both for passengers and storage. Sure, it’s a big vehicle, but it feels larger inside than its footprint might suggest. And with all of the sensors and cameras on the Palisade, it’s not at all intimidating to drive or park. Hyundai also makes the Palisade available with two seating configurations for the second row. For those that want maximum comfort, you can specify two captains chairs. For those who need all the seats they can get, Hyundai will fit a second-row bench seat instead at no cost. It’s this sort of reconfigurability that I just love!
Peace and Quiet
From the moment I sat down in the Palisade’s big, comfy driver’s seat I was blown away by the overall sense of luxury. Everything you see and touch feels well-designed and well-built.
Although I suspect most people considering the Palisade will probably be shuffling kids around fairly often, when you have the Palisade to yourself, it’s library quiet inside. Going down the road, there’s a faint, far-away hum of tire and wind noise, but the cabin is just a relaxing place to be. Once I was rolling down the road, I immediately felt more relaxed, like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The Palisade just lazily glides down the road without fuss, allowing you to just chill out and enjoy the ride.
Once you’ve relaxed into the Palisade a little bit, you start to notice all of the clever little touches that Hyundai incorporated into the interior that makes it a little easier to live with. The huge center console storage compartment also hides a pair of fold-away cupholders that spring into action with the press of a button. That’s also where you’ll find the wireless charging pad for your smartphone.
Built into the sides of the front seatbacks are two USB ports for rear occupants to charge their devices, with enough USB ports scattered throughout the interior for each passenger to have their own. There are cupholders literally everywhere. I also appreciated the buttons in the rear cargo area to quickly fold both rows of rear seats.
The Sound of Luxury
When I grew bored of sitting in my own silence, I was happy to hear the standard audio system sounded great, but for those who want the best, the 12-speaker, 630-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system will knock your socks off. It includes both QuantomLogic surround sound and Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology. For those that aren’t audiophiles, it’ll make even crappy music sound better and you can hear how much better it sounds from every angle. That’s pretty neat. The Palisade also comes with a Rear-Seat Quiet mode so you can mute the tunes in the back seats so your kids can sleep while you still jam out to Motley Crue or Missy Elliott in the front seat like cool parents.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen is really intuitive and can display up to three separate streams of information simultaneously on the home screen including navigation, audio, and weather. The center console itself looks really nice and clean, thanks to push-button gear selectors in place of a traditional gear lever. You simply select Park, Neutral, Drive, or Reverse from one of the large rectangular buttons on the center console. You can also use paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to change gears if you want.
The 3.8-liter V6 makes plenty of power and the transmission shuffles the power to the ground effectively. It all contributes to making the almost 4,500-lb Palisade move down the road effortlessly. The engine never seems to break a sweat during normal driving. Fuel economy is perfectly respectable at 19 MPG in the city and 24-26 MPG on the highway, depending on if you choose FWD or AWD. During my day with the Palisade, I saw between 26 and 28 MPG while cruising on the highway, but loaded up with a family and associated gear, your mileage may vary. With a trailer hitch fitted, the Palisade can also tow up to 5,000 lbs. Going down the road, the ride is incredibly smooth and supple. You just waft down the road, barely feeling anything over rough pavement.
All in all, I was really impressed with 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Although I’d love to experience the luxury of the Limited trim, the SEL never felt cheap or like it was missing anything. The level of refinement, technology, and driveability offered by the Palisade should make it a front-runner for anyone looking at a 7-passenger SUV. To learn more about the Palisade, visit Morrie’s 394 Hyundai today.