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First Drive 2020 Hyundai Palisade Review by Larry Nutson

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2020 Hyundai Palisade
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By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Hyundai has a new king, a new flagship; the Palisade. It’s Hyundai’s entirely new entry in the 3-row midsize SUV segment. Once midsize cars reigned supreme but now it’s midsize SUVs that garner the attention of buyers in the U.S.

The new Palisade will seat up to eight, has a powerful V6, can tow a bunch, and is surprisingly luxurious for the price.

Hyundai invited members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association to spend a day driving the new Palisade. Following a product briefing we took off on the Illinois highways for Starved Rock State Park, a scenic wilderness area located in LaSalle County about 100 miles southwest of Chicago, and some quality time behind the wheel of the new Palisade.

The Palisade is available in three trims each with front- or all-wheel drive. Prices start at $31,550 for the SE trim with front-wheel drive. Above that there’s an SEL for $33,500 and a range-topping Limited at $44,700. Add $1,700 for all-wheel drive on any of the three.

The SE and SEL seat eight. Second-row captain’s chairs are optional on the SEL for seven-person seating and are standard on the Limited. If you need the versatility to haul more than just people, rear cargo area grows from 18 cu.ft. behind the third row to nearly 46 cu.ft. behind the second, and to a a touch over 86 cu.ft. behind the first row with all seats folded. Plus, you can tow up to 5,000 lbs. with a tow package being standard equipped.

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So, yes, you can move a lot with the Palisade. And the moving gets done by a 291-horsepower 3.8-L V6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic. On the day’s drive I mentioned it was just me and an associate on board. The V6 delivered plenty or performance with the Palisade moving quickly from stop. The automatic is crisp-shifting and I really liked the push-button shift-by-wire gear selector. The HTRAC AWD system has different selectable drive modes that optimize performance based on driving conditions.

The Palisade’s V6 is designed to operate with a bit of the old and a bit of the new. The engine seamlessly switches between Otto cycle and Atkinson cycle operation to deliver the best power and the best economy possible for driving conditions. EPA test-cycle ratings for FWD models are 22 mpg combined with 19 city mpg and 26 highway mpg. AWD models are EPA-rated the same in the city and 2 mpg less in the highway test cycle. On our all-day drive we easily matched and exceeded the EPA highway rating.

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From a design perspective the Palisade is boldly styled with a large cascading front grille and crocodile eye headlights. Its profile with the large C-pillar creates a strong image. LED lighting front and rear mark the overall refined look.

On the safety front Hyundai expects the Palisade to achieve a NHTSA 5-star rating and an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (plus). A complete contingent of Advanced Driver Assist Safety (ADAS) features are offered including forward collision assist with pedestrian detection as standard on all trims. Limited trims have a Blind View Monitor that displays what’s in the blind spot when the turn signal is activated. It’s great for checking for bicyclists. Safe Exit Assist detects vehicles approaching from the rear alerting the driver with an audible warning and a pop-up in the cluster. Rear doors remain locked for passenger safety.

The cabin has a very upscale look and feel with quality materials and surface finishes throughout. Overall there’s a very serene and airy sense that abounds with quilted Nappa leather seats, ambient lighting, Harmon Kardon premium audio system, and a surround-view monitor.

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The floating center console provides space below for a purse or small umbrella. Cupholders in the center console fold to make space for other objects when needed. The second row seats slide with the touch of one button for easy third row access. Power-folding third row seats are an option. A driver talk in-car intercom broadcasts the driver’s voice through the rear speakers making for easier talking to the children.

More information and details on the 2020 Hyundai Palisade can be found at

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Palisade is very roomy for a midsize SUV with 8-passenger seating and plenty of cargo space. It looks big and yet drives much smaller. Plus, it’s a great value with lots of good looks.

I’m looking forward to possibly more time behind the wheel of the new Palisade perhaps with the opportunity for some off-road evaluations. Stay tuned!

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© 2019 Larry Nutson, Chicago Car Guy