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First Drive Review: Like Liesel, 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a well-developed, elegant flagship

The three-row Hyundai Palisade is the Korean automaker's new flagship SUV.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Remember Liesel from "The Sound of Music"? She was the well-developed, elegant flagship daughter of the Captain Von Trapp. Liesel was a star of the movie in her own right thanks to one rainy night in an Austrian gazebo but paired nicely with the rest of the Von Trapp family lineup to create a desirable must-see. In their case, a flock of singers destined for worldwide fame.

A parallel can be made between Liesel and the brand-new 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Designed to sit atop the Hyundai lineup as its flagship SUV, the Palisade shares many of the aesthetics with its stable mates, but clearly stands alone as the most refined model.

More than anything, the Palisade signals a turn toward a more premium brand identity for the Korean automaker. Thought is shares an engine, wheelbase, and transmission with the 2020 Kia Telluride, the Kia and Hyundai are two very different vehicles.

2020 Hyundai Palisade The Hyundai Palisade is elegant, yet adventure-ready.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

With a glance at its body style, it's easy to see who the Palisade was designed for- families who want a touch of elegance in their lives but don't want to pay upwards of $50,000 (or even $40,000) to get it.

The Palisade is a longer, wider, taller three-row SUV than the Santa Fe XL it replaces. It competes directly with the Telluride, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Atlas.

The exterior of the Palisade is fitted with premium features including standard LED daytime running lights, LED accent lighting, automatic headlamps with high beam assist, and heated power outside mirrors. Optional features include LED headlamps and taillamps, door handle greeting lights, side mirrors with LED turn indicators, an upgraded grille, and sunroof.

2020 Hyundai Palisade The Hyundai Palisade is a sister to the Kia Telluride, but the two models have distinctly different flavors.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The three-trim level Palisade doesn't fit into the Hyundai lineup like an enlarged version of the Kona, a purposeful move according to Chris Chapman, chief designer, Hyundai North America. His design vision sees the Hyundai lineup not as nesting dolls, but as chess pieces with whole sets obviously belonging together over small/large vehicle near duplication.

Under its hood is a 3.8-liter V6 engine that achieves 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The SUV, which has front-wheel drive standard, had sufficient power to get it where it is going during test driving around Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It didn't have any issues charging uphill or passing at speed on the highway. Braking is strong but not touchy and the SUV is quite stable on the road. All-wheel drive is available.

Moving inside, the differences between the Palisade and the rest of the Hyundai lineup become even more apparent, though the differences between it and Genesis , the luxury arm of Hyundai, models become fewer and farther between. The Palisade, in its SEL and especially in the Limited grade, looks and feels more premium than most other vehicles in its class.

2020 Hyundai Palisade The Hyundai Palisade is plush and elegant.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

A six-way power adjustable driver's seat is standard but more premium grades have available eight-way power driver's seat and either two- or four-way power lumbar adjustment, ventilated front seats, integrated memory for driver's seat, heated front seats, and heated second-row seats. The top Limited trim has a leg cushion extension.

Cloth seats are standard and two different types of leather are available. A second-row bench seat is standard in the base model and available in the midgrade SEL trim. Captain's chairs, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, and a power-folding/reclining third-row seat are available in the SEL trim and standard on Limited models. A proximity key, remote engine start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard in SEL and Limited trims.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Its seats are comfortable and the cabin has high-quality materials throughout, especially in higher trims.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

When it comes to the center console, Hyundai got clever. In addition to placing the available wireless charging pad in a place that doesn't detract from small item storage space or allow it to slide around, the cup holders fold out of the way to allow for an unobstructed storage experience. There is additional storage below the center stack, where charging cords can be run so they are kept out of sight.

Other neat tech includes the available 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, the Blue Link connected car system, and Driver Talk in-car intercom system. Rear Seat Quiet Mode, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto come standard.

The Palisade comes with standard or available most of the modern safety and driver assist equipment you'd expect from a new vehicle including forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, parking distance alerts, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, and blind spot monitoring.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Blind Spot Monitoring The Palisade's available blind spot monitoring system uses a camera to monitor what traffic is in your way and showcases the image on the driver's information screen when the driver switches on the turn signal.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

It also comes with a standard suite of equipment and tech, including trailer sway control, that would normally be part of an available towing package, meaning the SUV is ready to tow up to 5,000 pounds right off the lot.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is on sale and has a starting price of $31,500 for the base SE model. Its midgrade SEL will set you back $33,500 while the top-tier Limited starts at $44,700. All-wheel drive is available on all trims for an additional $1,700. On the SEL model, Hyundai sells a $2,200 Convenience and $2,400 Premium package. Drive guidance will cost buyers an extra $1,250 and a sunroof is another $900. There is a $1,045 destination and delivery charge.

Cadillac is moving the car buying experience into an interactive video-based platform as the brand works to gain new customers.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Edmunds.com is predicting hat sales of used cars will rise through 2020. At the same time, used car prices are expected to decline. That's a recipe for success for used car buyers according to Carvana. The online used vehicle retailer is predicting four trends for used car shoppers.

Mainstream Cars Stay Hot

Carvana believes that demand for used cars from mass-market brands like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan will continue. In 2019 small and mid-sized cars showed the strongest price appreciation in the used-vehicle market, a trend that is expected to continue in 2020.

Consumers Choose Quality Over Everything

According to Carvana, "A recent study from Brandwatch asked consumers what attributes were most important for brands in the auto industry, quality was the most popular option with 30% of the vote. Affordability followed, with 21% of respondents choosing it as the most important attribute. Carvana has more than 8,000 cars available on their site for local buyers priced under $15,000."

Customers Continue to Get Comfortable Shopping Online

If there's one thing America can agree on, it's not politics. It's that they generally hate going to car dealerships. Shopping for vehicles online has grown tremendously over the past decade and Carvana expects that to continue, a trend driven by the ability for customers to "do it all" from financing to browsing to scheduling delivery without ever having to talk to a salesperson.

According to Carvana, 75% of car buyers are willing to purchase a car online and 97% of car buyers do online research before a purchase.

The Digital Economy Will Continue to Transform Car Buying

Technology is making it easier than ever to buy a car. New online initiatives like Cadillac Live allow customers to talk to a salesperson without leaving their couch. Getting a 360-degree view of the vehicle is possible thanks to sights from most manufacturers, and CarFax offers reports on used vehicles.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of the winners of the U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Cars for the Money awards.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

It isn't just about which cars are good. For many buyers, it's about reaching the perfect blend of good, fuel efficient, and bang for your buck. The annual U.S. News & World Report Best Cars for the Money awards rates many of those factors, and more.

"Cars with low price tags aren't always good values," said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "A cheap car can have high ownership costs, making it more expensive in the long run. Plus, a lot of inexpensive cars don't give you a great ownership experience; it's not a good deal if it's not a good car. Every Best Car for the Money winner is a pleasure to own and a good value overall."

Within each class, the award winner has the best combination of quality and value. U.S. News & World Report measured quality using a car's overall score in the U.S. News Best Car Rankings. The overall score is based on safety and reliability data, as well as the collective opinion of the automotive press on a given model's performance and interior and how strongly each reviewer recommends the car. They measured value by looking at each model's real-time transaction prices, provided by TrueCar, and five-year total cost of ownership data, calculated by Vincentric.

Covering 11 categories, the awards highlight the cars, SUVs ,and minivans that give drivers the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes.

Here are the winners.

Best 2-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Best 3-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact Car for the Money: 2020 Kia Forte

2020 Kia Forte

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact SUV for the Money: 2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money: 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Large Car for the Money: 2020 Chevrolet Impala

2020 Chevrolet Impala

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Best Midsize Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Minivan for the Money: 2020 Kia Sedona

2020 Kia Sedona

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Subcompact Car for the Money: Honda Fit

2020 Honda Fit

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Subcompact SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Photo courtesy of Kia Motors