Let’s start with size, because the Palisade is larger than any SUV currently offered in Hyundai’s lineup, including the Santa Fe XL. It’s considered a midsize SUV and will compete with vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent and others. Hyundai is aiming to attract buyers who might have passed on the Santa Fe XL due to its smaller size compared to other mid-sizers. The Palisade can be had in a true eight-seat configuration, however, a captain’s seat second-row option can make it a seven-seater.
To move all the extra heft around, Hyundai has dropped an updated 3.8-liter V6 engine into it, which now runs on the Atkinson cycle. It’s a curious choice for a big vehicle meant for utility and towing, but the engine makes 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. No upgraded engine options are available, and it will be mated to Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive will be standard, but all-wheel drive is optional. The Palisade uses Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system with a few different selectable modes, which changes the torque distribution depending on the conditions (up to 50/50 front to rear). It rides on a modified and enlarged Santa Fe platform that we’re told will have some similarities with the upcoming Kia Telluride.
Looking at the large and proud new Hyundai, it has a few bits here and there to make it stand out from the crowded midsize SUV horde. Hyundai is definitely latching on to the headlights-in-bumper styling, which ends up making the daytime running lights a bit squintier. It doesn’t look bad per se, but it’s definitely different. It hardly even bears mentioning, but the large grille on the Palisade makes for but another big car with a big face. Around back is where Hyundai went a little off the beaten path. The metal surround taillight design is worthy of a double take. All around, the Palisade just feels a good bit larger than the Santa Fe, but carries its own look.
The interior is where things really start to come together for the Palisade. It’s safe to say that Hyundai just keeps getting better and better at putting together a high-quality and luxurious-looking place to live in. We love the sweeping center stack look and array of metal buttons. Most of the materials feel premium to the touch, and it feels spacious inside.
The large SUV is the minivan of today, meaning this vehicle better have solid family-friendly and tech features galore. You’re definitely covered on the technology side of things. A 10.25-inch wide format touchscreen perches atop the dash, while the instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch fully-digital display. You can connect two Bluetooth devices at once … in case the driver wanted to talk on the phone and the passenger wanted to blast their tunes at the same time. Seems like a solid scenario to setup, right? Anyway, Hyundai is also transitioning away from traditional gear levers, with the Palisade getting a button setup. Seven USB outlets, 16 cupholders and a partridge in a pear tree are all included (OK, fine, the last one is a lie). But hey, that’s a lot of cupholders. All the typical driver assistance features come standard in the Palisade, with adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist being a part of that list.
A pretty trick in-car intercom system is employed by the Palisade to talk to kids. Parents can communicate to both rows at once or speak to the second and third row independent from one another. There’s also a “rear sleep mode,” which sounds like it balances the audio fader such that all the sound only comes out the front speakers to allow rear passengers easier sleeping. The third row itself is sufficient enough for smaller adults and isn’t a total pain trying to get in either. Other cool tech includes an available heads-up display, wireless charger, and Clari-Fi audio system. Hyundai integrated a rear occupant alert system into the Palisade, which can detect children or pets in the rear seat. The system will first notify the driver with a message in the center cluster, then if it still detects someone in the rear seat after you leave the vehicle, it will honk the horn and send your phone a message. Of course, GM offered such a system on its vehicles first, but Hyundai’s adds some thoughtful additions. A safe exit assist system will automatically lock the doors if it senses an approaching vehicle from behind, another piece of mind feature for worrisome parents.
Hyundai wouldn’t give us any specifics on price other than saying it will be competitive with others in its segment. Production will start in Ulsan, Korea soon and be available in the U.S. during summer of 2019.