Experienced by Kimatni D Rawlins
Dubbed after “a line of high straight cliffs, especially near water,” it made perfect sense for Hyundai to invite us to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the launch of their family focused 2020 Palisade premium SUV. Cascading mountainous terrain, idyllic landscapes and the inviting Lake Coeur d’Alene instantly turned on my adventurer mode. In addition, the town was buzzing with moms, fit fathers and their active kids which is the target market for this newfangled Korean SUV.
Designing any fresh-to-the-scene vehicle is challenging since the marketplace is populated with so many options. But Chris Chapman, Hyundai’s Senior Chief Designer, has done his job respectfully and manifested an SUV that is uniquely attractive and large enough for either seven or eight passengers. Starting with the stunning split LED headlights, the Palisade is appealing in every fashion. Its jeweled grille is aggressive, massive and framed in a chrome-like surface over a plastic boarder. This same technique underlines the lower bumper for a very special fascia combination.
During the technical presentation COO Brian Smith stated that the flagship Palisade is a fun expansion for the brand which went from five SUVs to seven including the NEXO Fuel Cell and impending Venue crossover. This is ideal timing since Hyundai has witnessed 10 straight months of increased retail sales with May accounting for the strongest SUV month. Owners can also rest easy knowing that they are backed by a 5-year/60,000 new vehicle warranty and a 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty. Although, VW is offering a 7-year vehicle warranty for the Atlas, which is a direct Palisade competitor along with the 2020 Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, Ford Explorer and Chevy Traverse to name a few.
My drive partner and I selected a Hyper White exterior and Black/Black interior Palisade Limited AWD model featuring exclusive 20” rims for the day-long drive evaluation. Outfitted with all the bells and whistles, a fully loaded Limited model can top out at $46,400 while FWD SE base pricing starts at $31,550. Hyundai offers the Palisade in seven exterior hues and four décor selections to outfit the cabin. The interior is spacious and striking with various flashes of digital prominence. The quilted Nappa leather seats for example match the decorative doors while cordless phone charging and a whopping seven USB slots will keep all passengers charged and connected. The second-row seats, whether captain chairs or the bench, move back and forth and the third-row offers a reclining feature. Two adults will fit comfortably back there but not three. From the trunk area the powered third-row can also be folded flat with just one touch of a button which alleviates the need of standing there and holding it.
The Palisade’s power is just right as I didn’t feel any lag when accelerating. Moreover, the vehicle steers pretty flat without visible signs of body lean. The SUV rolls with a 3.8-liter V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC paddle shifters which are placed appropriately on the multifunction steering wheel. The GDI V6 gives you 291-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque that translates well on the pavement. The Palisade can tow 5,000 pounds and achieves 22 combined mpg (FWD). Full speed braking was pretty impressive as well. I’m a fan of the new auto leveling rear suspension which is always looking for the right vehicle posture. What I’m not a fan of is the push button gear selector seen in Genesis vehicles and Aston Martins. Give me the standard shift knob please. Hyundai said they took this route for the added storage beneath the console.
The FWD-biased HTRAC AWD has predictive capabilities and can send up to 50% of the torque to the rear. But no more than that. A Drive Mode Select rotary dial allows the driver to choose SNOW, SMART, COMFORT, ECO or SPORT Mode. AWD LOCK does what it implies and locks the vehicle with a 50/50 torque distribution for basic off-roading scenarios. SNOW mode specifically starts the vehicle in second gear, filters throttle inputs and shifts torque distribution 80% to the front and 20% to the rear for optimized wintry conditions. Somehow SNOW mode is also adaptive enough to differentiate the various snow surfaces and adjusts accordingly.
Of course the ride was joyful and entertaining with harman/kardon’s 12-speaker and 630-watt premium audio system, 10.25” navigation screen and 12.3” full digital instrument cluster that shows video of the street scene when the turn signals are enacted. Ambient lighting is also a plus as well as dual auto temperature control. While my partner rode in the back we played with the Driver Talk In-Car Intercom that allows you to speak into the system so your loud kids can hear you through the speaker without having to shout.
More than a few protection features include Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert and Safe Exist Assist which will block the rear door from opening if a passenger tries to jump out in the lane of an approaching vehicle. Downhill Brake Control, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Surround View Monitor will also give you a better piece of mind behind the wheel.
“The new 2020 Hyundai Palisade clearly evokes design imagery worthy of Hyundai’s flagship SUV, with new levels of all-road, all-weather capability, technology, safety, roominess and efficiency, all packaged in cutting-edge design,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “This new Hyundai SUV is the ultimate family vehicle for practical, comfortable daily use and memory-making road trips whenever the appeal of the open road should beckon.”