By on November 28, 2018

Image: Hyundai

It’s been a rough couple of years for Hyundai of America, but the automaker’s crossover-stacked product strategy is now bearing fruit. It’s not alone in this. The addition of new utility models like the subcompact Kona helped the brand shrug off slagging car sales, posting crucial monthly sales gains in 2018, just as the large Ascent crossover helped keep rival Subaru on a good sales footing.

While there’s change afoot among Hyundai’s car offerings, it’s big vehicles that fill both coffers and imaginations, and the Korean brand needs a large (but not too large) three-row utility to stimulate sales and profit in the North American region. Hyundai feels the Palisade is just the ticket. In fact, you’re already forgetting the Santa Fe XL nameplate as you read this.

The Palisade was hardly a secret when Hyundai sprung the name on us earlier this month. Nor was the midsize crossover’s design — previewed not just by the awesomely named HDC-2 Grandmaster concept released earlier this year in South Korea, but by the all-new 2019 Santa Fe, which replaced the long-in-the-tooth Santa Fe Sport.

Image: Hyundai

With the Palisade, Hyundai carries over much of the smaller ute’s design language onto a larger canvas. Its square-rigged, unabashedly two-box proportions makes its predecessor look like a marshmallow, but falls short of turning the new vehicle into a Korean Tahoe. There’s curves to be had here, most notable in the outline of the thickly-framed grille.

One can’t help but notice that the word “bold” shows up more than once in the automaker’s write-up. That’s no accident.

Few three-row crossovers deserve to be called groundbreaking, and the Palisade doesn’t count itself among those rare selections. Still, the model is striking enough to warrant attention that wouldn’t be afforded to its bland predecessor. Up front, the crossover dispenses with a traditional lighting array, preferring a Kona-esque slit setup with driving lights on the bottom, turn signals up top, and highly visible LED running lights running the height of the face. A strong, high character line connects headlamps to taillights, adding a sense of imposing strength to the crossover’s flanks, while the cut-out fender bulges add increased muscularity. Meanwhile, chrome trim flows along the top of the door frames and cascades down the C-pillar.

Does it slim down the vehicle? Maybe, maybe not, but it does help break up the wall.

Image: Hyundai

As for actual muscle, the Palisade’s specs certainly seem adequate. Beneath the hood, a lone powerplant — Hyundai’s direct-injection, Atkinson-cycle 3.8-liter V6 — generates 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. These figures stack up well against rival six-cylinders, including GM’s 3.6-liter V6. Power travels to the front or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic.

Compared to other top-selling three-row crossovers, the Palisade sits mid-pack pack in terms of length (196.1 inches) and near the top of its class in terms of wheelbase (114.2 inches, tied with the Nissan Pathfinder and behind the Ford Explorer). Cargo volume behind the rear seat is 18 cubic feet, or 45.8 cubes with the third row folded. Hyundai definitely wants you to know that the Palisade is larger in every external dimension than the Toyota Highlander, as well as the Santa Fe XL.

Yessir… this is definitely a crossover marketed to Americans.

Image: Hyundai

While no one expects Palisade buyers to venture too far off-road, the model’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system adds a Snow mode to the pre-existing list of Normal, Sport, and Smart modes. The automaker claims that the system boasts a wider range of front-rear torque distribution than other AWD systems, though without details, this shouldn’t be treated as gospel.

In terms of convenience, each of the seven (not eight, keep in mind) passengers receives a USB plug-in. Sixteen cupholders populate the Palisade’s parched interior. Up front, driver and front-seat passenger will find a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, while the driver gazes at a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. A head-up display projects pertinent information onto the windshield for those wishing for more to look at.

Because the name Palisade conjures up images of easy, coastal living, the vehicle’s Driver Talk in-car intercom system tries to make speaking a breeze. There’s two modes to this system: rear seat conversation and sleep mode. The former function allows the driver to communicate, via the audio system, to second- or third-row passengers, while sleep mode ensures backseat passengers don’t have to hear the front-seat duo’s tunes.

Safety? There’s a bevy of it, standard. The list includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Assist (which sounds an alarm if there’s a vehicle approaching a door that’s about to be opened), High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.

As for cost, that’ll have to remain a mystery until closer to the Palisade’s on-sale date. The crossover, which carries much of Hyundai’s U.S. hopes on its burly shoulders, arrives at dealers next summer.

[Images: Hyundai Motor America]

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52 Comments on “2020 Hyundai Palisade: Are You Ready to Fall in Love, America?...”

  • avatar

    Interior is nice. The front…may take some getting used to. And that chrome strip on the c pillar is so jarring and out of place.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Something tells me it will list at 50-Large, and then have the better part of 10 grand in “incentives”.

    • 0 avatar

      The (best selling in the segment) Ford Explorer starts at $32,365, the Toyota Highlander at $31,330, the Honda Pilot at $31,450. I seriously doubt this will start that much higher than they do.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        True John-and maybe I should have said the “top of the line version”. With that being said there isn’t an SUV on the planet that sells at the “start” price. Looking at the final (LIST) price of the MSRP of the “Limited Santa FE XL” I bought a little over a year and half ago is at $38,000.00.

        The transaction price wasn’t anywhere close to that.

      • 0 avatar

        The Highlander is actually the bestseller this year if you separate out the police interceptor sales.

      • 0 avatar

        Mr Taurus,

        my observations in the area where I live that for every Explorer there are 4-5 Highlanders. Heck, Just by looking at my company’s parking lot I see 3/1 ratio. May be somewhere else explorer sells well, but not here.

        • 0 avatar

          Ah, the power of anecdotal observation. My observations are the opposite of Mr Slavuta’s. I see multiple Explorers for every Highlander.

          Looking at actual sales data, neither of us are correct. However, YTD, the Explorer does outsell the Highlander.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I would appreciate if somebody can explain the advantage of Atkinson-cycle engines in such an application?

    • 0 avatar

      Greater efficiency. Why its here, I don’t know. It’s usually used in conjunction with electric power, as in Hybrids like the Prius, C-Max, etc.

      I dont claim to know exactly how it works, but here is more info:

    • 0 avatar

      All these modern Atkinson cycle engines are not always Atkinson cycle. Basically they use the can phasers to allow for higher valve overlap. It reduces pumping losses at the expense of compression.

  • avatar

    One would have to forget about the Veracruz before they forgot about the Santa Fe XL.

    Overall, this seems like an also-ran. Forgive the cynicism, but I see nothing that makes it a stand out or a compelling choice. Did Hyundai need this? Of course, but they’ve failed with two other 3 row CUVs, maybe the third time is the charm?

    • 0 avatar

      Doesn’t this make you think that if Pontiac or Oldsmobile were still alive that this would be one of their versions of the Traverse/Enclave?

      • 0 avatar

        The way that C-pillar goes with that rain gutter, the first thing I thought of was the window behind the rear doors of the mid-1970s GM B-body hardtop sedans. Maybe it’s just the color.

    • 0 avatar

      The “failure” was due to poor packaging.

      While not expecting Explorer or Highlander sales volume, wouldn’t be surprised if the Palisade ends up outselling the likes of the Ascent and Atlas.

  • avatar

    I did not want to comment until JohnTaurusFordTempoKiaAmantiUberDriver&CommentorOnEverySingleArticleWithAtLeastAdozenCommentsOrMoreOnMostArticles gave his opinion about this first, and now he has.

    JohnTaurus93Tempo93KiaAmanti2003, tell us all your entire life story, from who you are dating, to what you are doing at any given minute, particularly on any Friday or Saturday night, to your full spectrum political, religious, economic, social and philosophical views, and much, much more of your personal viewpoints and opinions and experiences.

    We all await your sharing, often up to dozens of times/comments in a single article on TTAC, and many dozens per day, with extreme anticipation, because we want to know you and your life with specificity, because you and your viewpoints are that important to the TTAC sphere and global community.

    Tell us more and more and more…

  • avatar

    I’ve been looking forward to this and the Telluride. I liked the 2019 Sante Fe I test drove but could use something bigger with a nicer interior and this fits the bill.

    After 6 months you’ll be able to get $5k or more off if any of Hyundai’s other vehicles are any indication.

    • 0 avatar

      J T is THE MAN on this site.

      He dislikes you greatly. Last week he ripped me in the comments because in one of my comments I used your term Chinesium. Adding words to common lingo are forbidden if they come from that evil DW.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m pretty sure “Chinesium” was coined by AvE on Youtube, so DeadWeight’s claim to it is about the same as mine, i.e. none.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey now, I don’t think DW was the originator of “Chinesium.” I could be mistaken and this is a much better known term but I brought it over here from the South Main Auto channel on youtube where the proprietor Eric O has a serious bone to pick with the nasty Chinese-made parts that have consumed the aftermarket replacement part market.

  • avatar

    Hyundai has come a long way, amirite?

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    Looks like a half assed Infiniti.

  • avatar

    A fellow tech on commented he was doing an engine replacement per a Hyundai campaign. (Since the auto press isn’t allowed by their sponsors to use the word “recall” anymore.)

    I asked him to “Tell me more!”

    He replied “About which campaign? Apparently there are four of them.

    My interest in Hyundai has sagged since then, having mistakenly believed they were close to hitting Toyota and Honda levels of quality. (Although their resale value has always been poor).

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    If this is around the size of a Pathfinder, then it’s a midsize CUV. Not in the same league as a Patrol, Landcruiser or even a Tahoe.

    The only issue I have is the lousy looking front end. Disgusting describes it.

    The engine choice I not to fond of. It’s a pity Hyundai/Kia only have the 2.2 diesel. A high performance diesel would be nice for a heavy vehicle.

  • avatar

    I’m no Hyundai fan, but you have to admit they’re killing it with their styling. This looks good from every angle, except from directly head on. Everything looks premium inside and out. Compare this styling to what’s coming from Honda, Toyota, and GM lately.

  • avatar

    There is a price, a low price, that I might consider that. And then need to put a bag over it’s face.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I don’t understand the logic of having captains chairs in the second row and an obvious 3-seat configuration in the wayback (that’s definitely an Odyssey-style headrest in the middle in the photo above). Seems like a huge sacrifice in flexibility.

    I’m guessing they will the bench will be available, but a lot of competitors don’t even offer it on the top trim (looking at you, Subaru, though I’d never consider one myself).

  • avatar

    Absolutely hideous.

  • avatar

    Grotesque outside, rental car inside.

  • avatar

    Nothing here is exciting me. I’ve never been a fan of splitting headlights and indicator lights. The interior seems incomplete and I don’t really like the center stack. I’m kinda diggin the vertical lights on the front, but I also am pretty sure that will be super annoying coming up behind me, day or night. I guess it all will come down to price.

  • avatar

    It falls just short IMO. Not bad, but something missing. The new Santa Fe, on the other hand, is a home run in the looks department and people seem to be buying them. Though, I’d wait until they work out any new model kinks.

    • 0 avatar


      The new Santa Fe is the more handsome design in large part due to it being a cleaner/less fussy design overall.

      But the Palisade does look better in live shots than the rendered images.

  • avatar

    Looks like a hearse, especially with that chrome strip.

  • avatar

    For what it’s worth, based solely on these pics, I’d say this is, by some margin, the best looking CUV ever created. Just enough Range Rover to not look like soap bar, but not so much as to look like a parody of a square jawed box.

  • avatar

    Despite the article, the name “Palisade” does not conjure up images of easy coastal living. For anyone in the NY area, it’s more like the hills in Jersey you angrily look at while sitting in traffic on the GW Bridge.

  • avatar

    I like most of it, but the front end looks like a 2003 Tacoma wearing braces…

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