Say hello to Hyundai’s new flagship suv

The Hyundai Palisade is the new flagship of the range, so it needs to be very good. It has a distinctive face that sets it apart from other Hyundai models and clearly can’t be mistaken for another brand. However, it’s not its striking fascia put on an otherwise familiar big SUV shape that’s important here, but the amount of room inside and how pleasant it is to travel in.

With seating for up to eight people, the Palisade offers one more than some competitors, and if you fold down all of its seats, you can get a pretty van-like loading bay. It also looks and feels well appointed inside, with no dramatic design touches - It’s just clear, functional, and minimalist.

It needs to face tough adversaries that have several generations of models behind them and, with it being a completely new nameplate, it may struggle a bit. Its exterior appearance blends a funky face with a more traditional overall aesthetic, but the interior may feel reminiscent to what you may see in a high-end German brand like Mercedes, Audi, or BMW, and its rivals will struggle to match the same feel inside their cabins.

Update 06/12/2019: Hyundai has released pricing for the all-new 2020 Palisade, and it looks like our estimates were spot on. Check out the details in the “Prices” section of our review below!

2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior Styling

  • Santa Fe styling
  • It’s Hyundai’s flagship model
  • Generally conventional appearance
  • Larger than Santa Fe XL
  • Longer than the Toyota Highlander
  • Wider than Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder
  • 114.2-inch Wheelbase
2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior
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While the Hyundai Palisade’s exterior may be dominated by its slightly unusual fascia, which uses vertical two-part daytime running lights that are split into two distinct clusters on each side stacked on top, as well as a massive grille, it is otherwise a very conventional looking vehicle with few other design flourishes.

The small top cluster only houses the running lights and indicators, and it’s the lower (larger) cluster that has the low and high beam projectors (as well as the larger part of the daytime running strip).

The grille is also bold and compliments the headlights well. It’s big, sure, but it’s not huge by modern standards, and its pattern looks quite sophisticated - something that helps boost its presence and first impression wow factor.

Had it not had the Hyundai badge so prominently displayed, it could have ended up being confused with an actual premium model.
2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior Interior
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Moving from its strange face to the side, there is definitely a hint of Mercedes GLE in the shape of the C-pillar from a front three-quarter view - the pillar is swept forward and behind it the side glass melds into the rear screen for that floating roof effect that’s very trendy among car designers these days. Viewing it from a rear three-quarter perspective, however, it shows hints of Cadillac Escalade, particularly with the noticeable shiny trim around most of the side glass.

From the back, it certainly looks unique (although strangely similar to some SsangYong models), with vertical light clusters emphasized by a shiny piece of light trim that runs down and then is continued by a smaller piece that’s integrated into the reflectors mounted lower on the bumper.

In this way, the designers have tried to mirror the same idea they did on the front, but for the rear end and it certainly looks better than when front and rear have completely different styles.

2020 Hyundia Palisade Exterior Dimensions

The Palisade also impresses with its sheer presence, being some 196.1 inches / 4.98 meters long, 77.8 inches / 1.97 meters wide and 68.9 inches / 1.75 meters tall. That makes it 3.6 inches / 9.1 cm longer than a Toyota Highlander, but shorter than the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder and 2019 Ford Explorer by 2.4 inches / 6 cm and 2.6 inches / 6.6 cm respectively and about the same size as the 2019 Honda Pilot.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior Design

  • Plush-looking, upmarket interior
  • Seating for up to eight
  • Best 1st and 2nd-row legroom than most competition
  • 2nd-row legroom leads the segment
  • Falls short on headroom
  • 45.8 cu-ft Cargo Room
  • 18 cu-ft cargo room behind third row
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
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If the Palisade’s exterior hasn’t impressed you, then maybe its luxury car like interior will. Design wise, and from a perceived quality standpoint it thoroughly deserves its place as the flagship Hyundai.

The dashboard layout is conventional, but there’s a certain air of quiet sophistication about it that may shock some people who have a 1990s - 2000s view of the Korean brand.

It’s all excellently assembled, materials look and feel premium (for lack of a more descriptive term) - this must be evidence of the positive effect of having a luxury sub-brand. On models equipped with leather upholstery, the doors have a quilted effect pattern on them to mimic what you might see on something that costs much more than the Palisade.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
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Interestingly, Hyundai has chosen not to give its flagship model fully digital gauge cluster. No, it isn’t common among Hyundai models, but maybe its most exclusive offering could have offered it - but the instrument binnacle is not devoid of screens as there’s one in between the dials able to show trip computer information, as well as navigation and even a feed from the Palisade’s various outside cameras.

Hyundai does say a 12.3-inch fully digital TFT center instrument cluster screen “offering various view modes and differentiated drive mode illumination” is available, but it’s not shown in the official photos.

The infotainment is displayed on a 10.25-inch screen positioned atop the center stack. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is offered.
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
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The Palisade’s automatic “shift by wire” transmission selector is comprised of four buttons that cater for the usual park, reverse, neutral and drive positions. While I normally don’t really like these solutions, this time the buttons are clearly labeled and not of different shape - it doesn’t match the reassurance of pulling on a stick, but it’s well implemented here.

Space is ample for people in the first two rows and the in third row (which, remember, can seat three people), legroom may be a bit tight if you’re a tall adult. However, even third-row occupants have cupholders and USB charging ports.

Hyundai is keen to point out that the Palisade has more legroom for the first and second rows of seats compared to the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Ford Explorer and, with the third row erected, it manages to beat its rivals for cargo room.

There’s also a head-up display (HUD) available for the Palisade and thankfully it’s not one of those cheap looking ones that have an additional plastic screen - this one is projected straight onto the windshield to give the drive full-color eye level information about speed, cruise control status, as well as the status of the active safety aids and navigation.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
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Storage spaces are plenty, scattered around the cabin - the Palisade even has a floating center console with additional space underneath where Hyundai has fitted two power supplies. You can also open center console itself for additional storage, and there are useful elastic nets behind both front seats.

It’s also billed as a very safe vehicle, with a wide array of standard fit crash mitigation and prevention systems.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior Dimensions

2020 Hyundai Palisade Cargo Room

2020 Hyundai Palisade Drivetrain And Performance

  • So far just V6 engine announced
  • Front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel drive optional
  • Standard eight-speed automatic
2020 Hyundai Palisade
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No turbochargers under the hood of the Palisade, with the only engine on offer being the 3.8-liter V-6 direct injection engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle.

Peak power is rated at 291 horsepower and is achieved at 6,000 rpm, while its peak torque of 262 pound-feet comes in quite high, at 5,000 rpm.

This puts the Palisade at a disadvantage compared to rivals that do offer forced induction power plants, and since its torque peaks so high, the unit may have to rev higher to keep up with turbo competitors. The eight-speed automatic gearbox it comes with could be kept busy if you constantly ask it for power, but I don’t want to detract from the quality of the box itself - it’s made in-house (not sourced from ZF) and it works just as well as the one made by the German gear factory.

The fact that the engine runs on the Atkinson cycle should, in theory, result in improved emissions and lower fuel consumption at the expense of a slight drop in performance

2020 Hyundai Palisade
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Hyundai does make a smaller displacement turbocharged V-6 it calls 3.3T GDi - that engine makes 365 horsepower also at 6,000 rpm, like the larger, non-turbo V6, but it has more torque. It comes in at 376 pound-feet and it peaks sooner, from just 1,300 rpm, giving whatever vehicle it powers a strong, muscular feel when you prod the gas. The automatic gearbox won’t feel the need to drop a cog to give you the kind of acceleration you expect as often.

There’s even a 5.0-liter V8 that Hyundai has at its disposal, but even if the Palisade is a pretty big vehicle, it’s still essentially front-wheel drive-biased, so 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet / 520 Nm could be too much for it outside of a dedicated performance version.

The Multi-mode all-wheel-drive system Hyundai calls HTRAC is offered as an option and, just like some other rivals, you can choose the mode that corresponds to outside conditions.

The automaker seems especially proud of its Snow Mode, first featured on the Palisade, it makes the vehicle especially good at going over snow - in this mode, the Palisade can lock its center differential and also control torque distribution to each individual wheel.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior
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2020 Hyundai Palisade engine specifications

Engine 3.8-liter 6-cylinder
Materials Aluminum block and head
Bore & stroke (mm) 87 X 96
Compression ratio 13.0 : 1
Displacement 3.8 liters / 3,778 cc
Horsepower 291 @ 6,000 RPM (preliminary estimate)
Torque (lb.-ft.) 262 @ 5,000 RPM (preliminary estimate)
Transmission 8-speed Automatic

2020 Hyundai Palisade Prices

2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior Interior
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We originally estimated that the 2020 Hyundai Palisade would start in the low-to-mid $30,000 range and approach the $50,000 mark in range-topping form. Now that official pricing is out, we have to admit that we were spot on. The entry-level FWD model carries an MSRP of $31,550 while AWD models add on around $1,750 to that pricing tag. Moving up the range, the SEL model will run you $33,500 or $35,200 in AWD form while the range-topping Limited model comes in at $44,700 or $46,400 with power sent to all four wheels. With these prices in mind, it’s clear that the Palisade is priced to sell and it should make life quite hard on the competition – even it’s distant cousin the Kia Telluride.

2020 Hyundai Palisade prices
Model Engine Transmission Drivetrain MSRP*
SE 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® FWD $31,550
SEL 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® FWD $33,500
Limited 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® FWD $44,700
SE 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® AWD $33,250
SEL 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® AWD $35,200
Limited 3.8L V6 GDI 8-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC® AWD $46,400

2020 Hyundai Palisade Competition

Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride
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One of the Hyundai Palisade’s main rivals will be Kia’s upcoming Telluride - both vehicles share the same chassis architecture and powertrains, and both have striking front fascias that are not quite as striking as the concept that previewed them - although, in the Telluride’s case, the difference is even greater; the concept had a completely different look which from some angles had hints of Rolls Royce to it.

It’s not a bad looking thing from the outside, but it’s really the premium look and feel of its interior that sets it apart. Otherwise, the two vehicles will be pretty similar in terms of comfort, performance, efficiency, and pricing.

Read our full review on the 2019 Kia Telluride.

Toyota Highlander

2017 Toyota Highlander Wallpaper quality
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Toyota debuted the Highlander nameplate in 2001, and the model currently on sale is the third generation that was introduced in 2014 and revised in 2017. Its main attributes are its spaciousness and family-friendly character, but it’s also surprisingly pleasant to drive too.

It also has a hybrid powertrain available, which the Hyundai Palisade doesn’t have, but none of them make the Highlander feel especially quick. If the new Santa Fe is anything to go by, the Palisade will probably be better to drive than the Highlander too, although it probably won’t feel as good on the road as a Mazda CX-9.

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Highlander

Final Thoughts

2020 Hyundai Palisade Exterior Interior
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It is not the first time Hyundai has had an SUV flagship, but I’m pretty sure you’ve already forgotten the Veracruz that used to occupy that position. Maybe that’s why the Korean automaker ditched that nameplate altogether and decided to call its new SUV flagship after a type of wooden defensive structure.

The Palisade has the looks and the premium feel to be competitive in its segment, but at the same time, it won’t be a vehicle for badge snobs. It makes a pretty good impression as a mainstream model with luxury aspirations, especially inside where it successfully manages to mimic an actual premium model.

It won’t be the sportiest thing to drive, although the press blurb does mention something about class leading body torsional rigidity, as well as an extra wide front and rear track, so it’s not going to be unsafe either. You can get it with 20-inch rims on low profile tires, and that will help handling but at the same time it will make the car not as good off-road - it depends on where you want to take it.

  • Leave it
    • May be expensive with all the bells and whistles

Further Reading

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
- image 770581
Under the hood there are a few options

Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.

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