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