Strong Representative in The Compact Class
Compact SUV’s both in luxury and non-luxury segments make up the hottest automobile market in Canada and on most markets worldwide. Each major brand keeps a close eye on this segment and works to make sure to have a strong product in its portfolio.
Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand is no exception. QX50 is Infiniti’s best-selling compact crossover and had been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year. In this model year, it is still a brand-new and sought-after model. We tested a 2020 QX50 with the Sensory trim level with standard all-wheel drive.
Packed with an attractive style (somewhat subjectively speaking), the QX50 is a strong contender is the busy and very competitive segment of luxury SUV’s consisting of the brand-new Lincoln Corsair, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, GMC Terrain, Cadillac XT5, Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, and BMW X3 and more.
The timing was perfect as our one-week test drive started almost at the
same time with Toronto’s first snowfall around mid of November.
As soon as I sat behind the steering wheel of the QX50, I immersed into
the congested evening traffic of the GTA.
Engine and Powertrain
We were also curious about QX50’s new high-tech variable compression (VC) turbo engine developed in-house by Nissan, the mother company. Despite all the excitement and publicity about the EV’s and alternative powertrains, the internal combustion engine is not only still alive, but also to stay with us for about another two decades or more. Infiniti’s VC engine is an industry first and looks like a milestone of innovation for a conventional powertrain. You do not notice much (if not at all) difference while driving this vehicle.
Nissan engineers used a special multi-link between the connecting rod
and crankshaft, and a small electric motor, that changes the compression ratio of
the engine seamlessly between 8:1 on the low side and 14:1 on the high side.
This is a very good compromise between power and torque (on demand) while keeping
very low consumption when you do not need too much power.
The 2.0L, 4-cylinder turbo engine delivers 268 hp and 280 lb-ft of
torque coming at as low as 1600 rpm. It generates enough torque to make you
feel driving a powerful vehicle. Mated to a CVT transmission, which doesn’t
look like a CVT. “Predefined” steps lock the gears at certain points thus mimicking
a traditional planetary gearbox.
Except for the white quilted leather seats and some other minor features, the Sensory version is well-equipped and deserves to be a luxury vehicle except the heated rear seats which are not available even as an option. I assume that Infiniti will take care of this during the mid-cycle model refresh in two or three years.
The cabin is comfortable and feels luxurious. The rear passenger legroom is one of the best in this class. The cargo area has grown significantly over the previous generation. If offers now 881 liters of space and because the sliding rear seats and can be expanded to 1048 liters.
Designing the appearance and functionality of infotainment systems in modern cars turns more and more to a challenge. Drivers want to access the information on the screen quickly and easily with minimal distraction. Infiniti’s InTouch Dual display infotainment system splits duties between two touch screens presumably to keep it simple. The upper screen handles the navigation map and phone functions, but inputs are made on the lower touchscreen. There’s also a small rotary controller. However, it has limited functionality and use. Here, Infiniti must revisit this topic and better have a look at competitors, such as BMW’s i-Drive. The graphic designs ad resolutions of the two screens are different too. They do not look like parts of the same whole. Furthermore, neither Carplay nor Android are available, features that become more widely available even in non-luxury brands, such as Nissan Altima of the same group. This is another area Infiniti needs to look at for the next model refresh.
In general, we loved both the interior and exterior design of the QX50.
Naturally flowing lines from the hood to the slim LED headlights, elegant use
of chrome, the signature double-arch grille and distinctive D-pillar kink.
On the road, the ride was well-balanced between firm road-holding and comfortable cruising. I drove with winter tires on snowy or icy roads most of the time. And you can assume that in summer on the dry surface, the ride quality would increase further. This feature is a must when you pay a price north of 60 grand for a compact SUV and Infiniti did a very good job in this area
Unfortunately, the same perfect calibration does not apply to the steering. You expect a stronger connection between the driver and the front wheels. This is probably due to Infiniti’s steer-by-wire system, with a computer between you and the road. Human beings are not satisfied easily. Even if this system is continuously developed and now in its fourth generation, more direct steering would add to the sportiness and the driving pleasure of the QX50. It works seamlessly with driver assistance and semi-autonomous driving technologies like the ProPilot Assist system that comes standard on Proactive and higher trims.
ProPilot system, as we had extensively tested during our long-range test drive with the Altima, uses a myriad of sensors including the blindspot monitors and forward cameras to maintain a pre-selected distance from the car in front of you while simultaneously keeping you centered within the lane.
After about six hundred kilometers of driving on the highway and the city, we reached an average of 9.7L per 100 km in wintry conditions and winter tires. I think that the modern, VC turbo engine deserves most credits for the impressive fuel economy. (NRC measurements are (Premium Gasoline ) 10L/100 km city, 7.8 L/100 km highway, 9.0 L/100 km combined)
With prices starting at just over $44K the QX50 comes standard with quite a lot of kit including AWD, 19-inch wheels, LED lighting, a huge panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning, and a remote engine starter.
Our tester had Sensory (second to the range-topping Autograph) trim level with an MSRP of $57,098. Add to this $1,200 for optional triple clear coat paint, and $2,095 for freight and PDI, the full price reaches $60,393.
If you target a luxury, compact crossover, QX50 is definitely a wise choice with a powerful yer fuel-sipping engine, impressive road-holding and long-term reliability of Japanese engineering and product quality.
10 years ago, nobody would believe that Koreans could make a luxury sports sedan that challenges with German cults. Genesis G70 is one of the best entry-level luxury sedans today with several awards, including 2019 North American Car of the Year. It is not an easy thing to achieve, as its competitors have been on the market for more than 30 years, such as BMW 3, Mercedes C, Audi A4, and Lexus IS.
Especially in the last 5-6 years, we have been seeing Genesis trying to compare with premium European brands. However, it is still missing an SUV/CUV and they are still pushing three different sizes of sedans into the North American market, where sedan sales are falling, while crossover sales are on the rise.
Regardless of the segment of a car, Koreans find the easier way to rise against the Germans, by working with a German automotive designer, Peter Schreyer, who was one of the three presidents and chief design officer at Kia/Hyundai from 2006 to 2018. If you take off the Genesis badge, this definitely looks, feels and drives like a premium German car with few important flaws. In this review, we will elaborate those flaws as well as which parts it outperforms it is competition.
Exterior and Interior
Genesis G70 looks not only premium but also, they were able to keep sporty design elements in the exterior. A chrome grille, LED headlights, 19” alloy wheels are some of the main factors why it can look premium, sporty and luxurious at the same time without being cheesy. We think this is one of the better-looking entry-level sedans, but this is a subjective matter.
Interior wise, they tried to keep it simple, but premium. Seats are comfortable, but at the same time, they are well-bolstered. Overall interior quality is excellent, everything sits perfectly with no weird gaps or cheap plastics. Unlike the bigger Genesis’, it has some sportiness. The dash and door panels have aluminum panels, soft-touch plastics, and leather. Everything is laid out perfectly, as soon as you get inside the G70, you can get used to the car quickly. Our overall impression about the interior is, they find a great equilibrium of ergonomics, being sporty, and luxurious at the same time as its German competitors.
One problem is the rear legroom. It is extremely tight in the back. Our test pilot is 6’1” and he is unable to sit in the back with his seat position in the front. This could be an important disadvantage as the overall legroom is less than the current generation Honda Civic, which is a smaller class. The trunk size also isn’t the best, it is not deep and the overall size is below the class dimensions. If overall interior space an important factor and you like this car, you may want to check out its sibling, called Kia Stinger.
Engine and Drivetrain
Base trims come with a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. If you want the full G70 experience, it comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.3L V6 engine that has 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Our tester had the bigger engine and we can easily say you should choose this engine over the 2.0L, as this one has much flatter torque curve and impressive acceleration. Both engines are matched with an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission and an All-Wheel-Drive system. Our tested had the 3.3 L V6 engine and we are impressed with overall powerband and ease of use. It is not the fastest in its class, but super smooth and torque comes at the low rpm, you don’t need to change gears to accelerate. However, this “luxury” comes with an expense of gas consumption, as our tests show 14.5L/100 km overall fuel economy which is above average. With similar driving circumstances, we were able to see below 12.0L/100km with the BMW M340i, which has a comparable power figure. So, fuel consumption is significantly high and this is something needs to be improved. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you may want to choose the 2.0L 4 cylinder turbocharged engine.
Like the other latest Hyundai and Kia models, this one comes with an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission. It is identical to the other Genesis models and Kia Stinger as well. We have to say shift changes are not the fastest though, especially downshifting. It is falling a little bit behind the BMW’s 8-speed in terms of shifting and overall smoothness. After driving Hyundai Palisade, which has the same transmission with slightly different gear ratios, this one is definitely tuned differently, and downshifting is not as slow, but still not on par with the competition. Of course, this is not an equivalent of an M series, but it has definitely sporty characteristics which this 8-speed may not be the best option, as it is not lightning fast. However, it is able to provide a smooth and comfortable driving experience, and perfectly capable of handling spirited driving.
Unlike the underwhelming transmission, we are pretty impressed with the All-Wheel Drive system, as this is a rear-biased all-wheel drive. In Normal mode, it sends 60% power to the rear, but if you switch to the Sport mode, it sends 80-100% power to the rear, which means it can also be a rear-wheel-drive in some situations, which is extremely fun to drive. It doesn’t want to understeer too much when you are on the limit like most of the regular all-wheel-drive systems, as they are more 50/50 biased. The engine is placed longitudinally, it has always been fun driving a vehicle with a longitudinal engine, as they always offer rear-biased and better driving experience, even with all-wheel drive.
Features and Driving Impressions
Genesis G70 has a long specification list, depending on the trim. The good thing is, it is pretty flexible when it comes to choosing a trim, as it doesn’t force you to change the engine. If you are strictly looking for a smaller engine, you can still choose the top trim, though you cannot choose a bigger engine with the absolutely base trim, which shouldn’t be a problem for potential buyers. If you like to see and compare the specs, please click the link (https://www.genesis.com/ca/en/luxury-sedan-genesis-g70-specifications.html).
As expected from a luxury brand, Genesis offers the all-wheel-drive as a standard feature in Canada. (Unlike the USA.)
There are some important features missing in G70 though, which have been available in German competitors for many years. Those are Auto Start-Stop feature, blind view monitor and no digital instrument cluster. It is disappointing not to have the digital cluster and blind view monitor in a premium brand where it is already available in the latest Hyundai Palisade. Although we enjoy using Hyundai/Kia’s infotainment system, we would like to see Genesis specific or different infotainment system. As the infotainment system is actively used by the driver and passengers, this is where Genesis could have been different from a Hyundai, in order to make the user feel more premium.
Pricing and Conclusion
When we test drove the G70, we immediately felt this is a multi-functional luxury sedan that offers sporty design and driving features. They found a great balance between being luxurious and trying to give you performance at the same time, and this is extremely hard to combine them at a reasonable price. Of course, you have to sacrifice to have both luxury and performance-oriented driving offered in one package, because it is not going to offer anything best in its class, but it does everything really well. Overall, Genesis G70 is an amazing car for what it is, considering the price-performance ratio is excellent. You get the top trim for almost the same price you get the German competitors base trim. G70 starts at $42.000 CAD and if you want the V6, it starts at $56.000 CAD. Top trim costs $58.000 CAD which also comes with limited-slip differential.
Unfortunately, as mentioned in the introduction, Genesis tried to penetrate the premium market with three different sedans, instead of SUVs and Crossovers. Although they did a great job with the G70 which offers excellent value for a luxury sedan, this may not help Genesis as an overall brand as global sedan sales are on the downfall, whereas SUVs and Crossovers are selling like a hotcake. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were in 1990s, but we believe the timing is wrong to fully focus on a luxury sedan model lineup. We are hoping Genesis comes with at least one or two different types of SUV/CUV or a Crossover to challenge with German competitors.
Our takeaways are:
+ Excellent price-performance ratio
+ Rear biased All wheel drive system
+ Engine performance
+ Excellent interior quality
– Overall rear legroom, interior space
– Underwhelming transmission
– Missing some premium features such as auto start-stop and
digital instrument cluster
Nissan Altima has always been a strong contender in the midsize sedan market in North America. With Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, it is a reliable Japanese brand, competing also against Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion. Unlike GM, Ford, and FCA, which all focus more and more on SUV’s, Japanese brands not only stay in the sedan segment but also build better cars (and SUV’s) with every generation.
The Altima, in its sixth generation, is Nissan’s first AWD sedan in the North American market. This is an intelligent AWD system that can sense different driving conditions for optimum torque distribution. Normally, it is a front-drive setup, but as the conditions require, up to 50 percent of the torque can be transferred to the rear wheels. It is even more important for Canada, where harsh winter conditions matter and AWD is a strongly demanded feature. Nissan also states that with the Altima, they had the highest investment for a platform over two decades. With an all-new 2.5 liter, direct-injection 4-cylinder engine delivering 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque mated to the Xtronic (CVT) transmission, this is not only a modern car but also can offer a more affordable alternative to an SUV.
I am not a fan a CVT’s and did not like much this type of transmission in my previous test drives. However, this new generation gearbox not only gives a driving pleasure similar to conventional planetary transmissions but also very good on fuel too, as you will read later.
Nature Of Our Trip
I and my business partner had planned a business trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia with a stopover and private visit in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This was probably not the best alternative considering the unpredictable November weather in the Atlantic provinces. However, despite the long-distance, we could not resist the freedom and flexibility a road trip offers.
Our roadmate was a Nissan Altima, provided by Nissan Canada in “Sunset Flair Chromaflair” colour and in the range-topping Platinum version with all-wheel drive.
We left our office on Monday, November 4th afternoon. It was difficult to stay away from the evening rush hour traffic. We spent almost one hour to reach Oshawa, the “eastern gateway” of GTA. In this stop and go traffic, the first obvious advantage was having a car with automatic transmission. In fact, after so many years, I cannot think of any other alternative. And of course, if you flow in the heavy traffic with an average speed of 40 to 50 kilometers per hour, comfortable seats and good sound isolation make a difference too. So we started paying attention to Nissan’s so-called “Zero-Gravity Seats”.
Nissan says that “there’s a whole lot of science behind it. In fact, they’re inspired by the weightlessness of space. In a weightless environment, the human body assumes a neutral spinal posture—a natural position where the least amount of stress is placed on our bones and joints, so we’re less likely to become tired. Nissan engineers used these findings and—over the course of a decade—developed Zero Gravity Seats, fundamentally changing the entire seat design to optimize comfort on longer drives. To reduce muscle fatigue the human body naturally slumps, which then increases spinal bending, puts pressure on the lower back, and leads to even more fatigue. Built with 14 different pressure points to put you in a neutral position, the Zero Gravity Seats’ unique shape and patented structure provide continuous support from your hips all the way up to your shoulders. This natural, ergonomic design helps to maximize blood flow and keep your energy levels up. Before Zero Gravity Seats were put into production, the seat concept went through extensive testing using a driving simulator, real-world long. Distance and
overnight evaluations, as well as biomechanical analysis. Testers included men
and women of different heights and body types. Even medical tests were
taken—like blood samples measuring lactic acidity levels—to confirm a reduction
in muscular strain and fatigue.”
With this bold, long and promising statement in mind, we were excited to have our own experience during this about the 4,000-kilometer-long drive. I revisited this topic at the end of our article.
Driving in Ontario and Quebec
Once we left GTA behind and heading towards Cobourg, the traffic started flowing much more smoothly and soon it was dark.
After a short stop for dinner in Belleville, we set Montreal as our next stop. The Altima easily swallowed kilometers. With two fuel stops and the advantage of having two drivers, we reached the outskirts of Levis and Quebec City (we later decided not to stop in and around Montreal) and had a three-hour sleep break at a parking lot with 820 kilometers behind us. The front seats, in fully-reclined positions were comfortable enough to have a “power-nap”.
The road quality along Highway 401 in Ontario and Autoroute 20 in Quebec were very good. We almost did not see any road repairs or lane reductions and the route was ready for the upcoming winter.
I specifically enjoyed driving the section between Montreal and Riviere de Loup. Under heavy rain and the dark early hours in the morning, the Altima firmly stuck to the road surface and confidently moved forward. I gave credit also to Hankook Kinergy GT all-season tires on 19” alloy wheels. Thanks to its high silica compound these tires had a good grip and traction on the wet surface at speeds between 110 to 120 km/h. Later we were going to love these tires even more as you will read further in this article. The high beam assist was a very functional help in dark and somewhat empty roads. It always switched to the low beam every time a vehicle from the opposite direction entered our vision and I could concentrate more on driving the vehicle.
Driving in New Brunswick.
As the night gives its place to daylight, we had left Riviere de Loup behind and heading towards the provincial border between Quebec and New Brunswick. As a testament to the size of our country, we switched from Eastern to Atlantic time zone and suddenly “lost an hour time”.
Breakfast in Edmundston
Not far from the border, but 1,100 kilometers from
Toronto, the city of Edmundston was our next “natural” stop.
A small Francophone city with a population of about 16,000 people, Edmundston is the centre of the Madawaska Region northwest of the Province.
During the early colonial period, the area was a camping and meeting place of Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) Nation during seasonal migrations. From the mid to late eighteenth century, one of the largest Maliseet villages had been established at Madawaska and had become a refuge site for other Wabanaki peoples. The Maliseet village was originally located near the falls at the confluence of the Madawaska and Saint John Rivers. Currently, the City of Edmundston surrounds a federal Indian Reserve (St. Basile 10/Madawaska Maliseet First Nation). Originally named Petit-Sault (Little Falls) in reference to the waterfalls located where the Madawaska River merges into the Saint John River, the settlement was renamed Edmundston in 1851 after Sir Edmund Walker Head, who was Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick from 1848 to 1854 and Governor-General of Canada from 1854 to 1861. Originally a small logging settlement, Edmundston’s growth is mostly attributed to the city’s strategic location.
We were hungry and tired. After a quick Google research, we arrived at the Blue Lotus Café in Downtown Edmundston. Opened in July 2007 and thus more than 12 years old, this place serves breakfast and lunch and a popular place among the locals. We had also some nice conversation with the young and friendly couple running this business. The breakfast was delicious, and we were happy with this thoughtful escape from the routineness of a franchised coffee and donut place.
Following a quick discovery, we hit the road for Fredericton, the provincial capital. On Highway 2, aka TransCanada Highway, it was relatively quiet. I had the impression that this highway was built too early and to accommodate the “traffic of the future.” However, the low volume of traffic was also due to the low season.
In Fredericton, our long-time friends Semra and Irfan invited us for lunch at Wolastoq Wharf, a seafood restaurant. In North Devon Region close to St. John River and across the downtown, the restaurant is easy to reach and has parking too. The food was fantastic, the service was very friendly and professional. Once you are in Atlantic Canada, you always give priority to seafood and in this regard, this restaurant was a perfect choice.
Following the lunch, we hit the road again. After another 430 kilometers via Highway 2, 104 & 102, we arrived at our hotel in Halifax.
We drove a total distance of 1,813 kilometers from Toronto to Nova Scotia’s capital. Our average consumption was 7.6 liters, which was very good for a midsize, AWD vehicle. Also, the seats proved to be very comfortable. Nissan’s Zero-Gravity Seats made a difference. However, our advice for the next generation seats would be: “Make them a lit bit wider. You have enough space to put wider cushions.
Halifax, the capital of Canada’s Ocean Playground is a
Nova Scotia’s marquee port-of-call is situated on one of the deepest and largest natural, ice-free harbours in the world. Welcoming guests for more than 260 years, Halifax offers the exciting pulse of Atlantic Canada’s largest city, coupled with the culture and heritage of one of Canada’s most historic communities.
It is a major business centre and known for its maritime history. In the evening, we had a look at downtown from hilltop Citadel, a star-shaped fort completed by the British in the 1850s. Waterfront warehouses known as the Historic Properties remind us to Halifax’s days as a trading hub for privateers, notably during the War of 1812. In the 20 Century, Pier 21 witnessed the arrival of nearly one million immigrants from all over the world between 1928 and 1971.
This historic building now is the Canadian Museum of Immigration and to me personally, it is the number one place to visit in Halifax.
Following a series of business meetings on our second day in Halifax, we had a seafood dinner at the Five Fishermen Restaurant in Downtown. The restaurant is housed in a building that was originally constructed as a schoolhouse in 1817. Across the street is St Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest building in Halifax, built in 1750, the year after Halifax was founded.
Chef Greg, a native of Toronto, comes from a family that was built around the dinner table. It was a time to unwind, laugh and indulge with great food so it comes as no surprise that he decided to become a chef at the young age of 16. Chef Greg’s lifelong love affair with food began at an early age. Growing up in Toronto he was exposed to different cuisines from around the world. His future was clear at the age of 16 years old when he started following famous Canadian chefs and was attracted to the various cultures in the city.
We ate on the ground floor which was relatively quiet.
Like Halifax, I had visited this place 11 years ago for the first time. The iconic lighthouse and the rocks around it were spectacular. The weather was sunny but quite windy. Since the Swissair 111 disaster in 1998 where 229 souls perished just a few hundred meters off the coast, visiting this place reminds me of this tragedy.
Returning to Halifax, we chose Athens a Greek restaurant for lunch. Specializing in Greek and Italian dishes, this family-run place offers a memorable eating experience at affordable prices.
Murat, our third partner, who had joined us on Wednesday evening by flying from Toronto to Halifax was the first driver of the day as we left Halifax. As we navigated to the 240-kilometer portion between Amherst NS and Fredericton NB, we drove through a snowstorm. This section was another and much tougher test for our Hankook tires. The Altima handled this treacherous section of the route pretty well. Intelligent all-wheel-drive combined with good tires on 19” wheels (even if these are not winter tires) created a safe driving for us. Without Murat as an experienced and cautious driver, this would still be more difficult.
The pro-pilot assist system shut down as expected in this bad weather. While this was no surprise to us it is time to say something about this driving assistance feature.
As with all other manufacturers, Nissan designs these systems very carefully with the safety of the passengers in mind. Nissan states that Pro-pilot assist is NOT a self-driving feature. Even in good weather with no visibility issues, the Pro-Pilot has its limits. You can leave the streering wheel “free” for up to 15 seconds only. Unless you grasp the steering wheel, a visual and then an acoustic warning pops up, then the car brakes. Nothing wrong with that. It is also a good reminder about how far fully autonomous vehicles (AV’s) are from today. Considering the changing weather, a very long transitional period with human drivers and AV’s sharing the road and other safety issues, fully AV’s are decades away.
Upon arrival in Fredericton under snow, we rewarded
ourselves with a lunch at Boston Pizza.
During this long trip, and for the first time in a test drive we tested three different navigation systems: Altima’s standard onboard navigation, Car Play for i-Phone and Android Auto for Samsung.
Twenty years ago when Renault took control of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both companies by then had said: “From a design point, a Nissan car would be interesting only for those, who see a motor vehicle for the first time.”. Since then, things have changed significantly. Attractive design inside and out is a feature of Nissan cars.
Our top-of-the-range tester in Platinum trim had an MSRP of C$35,098. The only option was the three-coat-paint for C$300. Adding C$ 1,815 freight and PDE, the total price comes C$37,213.
This is a good value for money considering a fully-equipped midsize sedan with AWD. Japanese quality and durability come standard.
Article And Pictures by Varol McKars
For more and most up-to-date information, please visit www.nissan.ca
The car was provided by Nissan Canada
The travel costs were sponsored by:
Academy Travel Services Inc. and Nova Scola Education Consulting Inc.
Hyundai is arguably the most passionate automobile brand of this century. Starting with the “dirt-cheap” Pony in North America about 40 years ago and with a quality level below average, the Korean company today (we should better say the Hyundai-KIA Group) produces cars and SUV’s with top quality and sold all over the world. And we should add Genesis, the group’s rising luxury nameplate.
Engine and Drivetrain
Hyundai’s newest and biggest SUV comes with a 3.8L naturally aspirated V6 that produces 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Without the turbocharging, the engine delivers the torque at the high rpm ranges, so you need to rev the Palisade out to go fast. We would say, this car is borderline fast, as it weighs more than 2.5 tons, the V6 engine is barely enough for it. We wish it comes with forced induction, even with slightly smaller displacement would be fine but it would have offered way more usable and flat torque band. In our tests, we see 12.5L / 100 km average fuel consumption, which is not too bad for a 3-row huge SUV that weighs over 2500 kgs.
Hyundai decided to match this 3.8L V6 engine with their 8-Speed torque converter automatic transmission and as soon as you start driving, you realize it is 100% tuned for comfort. It takes a lot of time to downshift, even if you use paddle shifters, there is a lag which causes 1-2 sec delay to accelerate. Having a slightly underpowered engine and slow response transmission is not the best combo for short burst acceleration, which you shouldn’t expect to be the fastest in the straight line anyway. Quite frankly, the transmission is extremely smooth and it doesn’t “hunt the gears” to get better fuel economy.
The Palisade comes with an all-wheel-drive except for the base trim. Unlike in the USA, it comes with more off-road modes, although this is not a rock crawler, it is quite capable in light off-road situations. The Canadian version comes with Mud-Sand-Snow modes which tune the drivetrain in different ways. For instance, in Sand mode, it keeps the revs high, and distributes the torque 50:50, and mimics if it has a limited-slip differential. Hence, it transfers the power to the wheel with more traction and brakes the wheel with less traction. No matter how capable this system is, it is still front-wheel biased and rear wheels activate when the front loses traction, which helps the fuel economy overall.
Our tester comes as Luxury, the second-highest trim level.
Features and Driving Impressions
As a cost-cutting strategy, the Palisade shares the same platform with Kia Telluride, but also with Kia Sedona and Sorento. So, you should not expect any sporty driving experience, because as soon as you start driving this vehicle, you feel it has zero sporty pretensions. Also, it is a huge 3-row SUV, but you don’t feel like you are driving a huge vehicle as the suspension is tuned well enough so it feels like a car more than a truck driving dynamics. Driving smoothness level is also paired with lots of new technologies, which is one of the strongest points of the Palisade. As typical with recent Hyundai models, the Palisade offers the best bang for the buck in its class.
Hyundai offers four² different trim levels. If you want to get the all-wheel-drive (which you should), you need to skip the base trim. Our tester was the Luxury trim, which was missing few more features compared to the top trim called “Ultimate”, such as better looking rims, LED tail lights, Nappa leather, 4-way lumbar support, ventilated rear seats, head-up display, wireless charging pad, 12.3” instrument cluster, double sunroof (additional sunroof for rear seats), and LED interior lights. You can choose captain chairs in the top two trims, which is a huge plus for people who want their rear-seat passengers to be more comfortable, and it would be easier for people to get access to the third row without folding down the second-row seats.
Nevertheless, the Luxury trim is more than enough as you can save $3000 by opting for those features out. The Luxury trim comes with regular leather seats, driver memory seats, power seats for both sides, heated rear seats, 10.25” infotainment system, Harman/Kardon premium audio system and so on. As always, Hyundai’s adaptive cruise control and infotainment systems are really good. It is so good that it makes you want to buy this vehicle as it comes with even more advanced adaptive cruise control system, so it recognizes that you are driving on the highway and it allows you to keep your hands off the steering wheel for several minutes, not like 5 seconds for most brands. At the same time, lane keep assist is able to keep the car centered, it is not like bumping it inside the lane when it’s out. So, this is a revolutionary step going forward. It stops and starts moving smoothly and this is one of the best parts about driving a Palisade. Another interesting feature is, when you use your right/left indicator, it automatically switches the camera on that side, so you will see what’s going on in your instrument cluster. This safety feature was awarded as the best by AJAC.
Overall interior space with material quality and craftsmanship is one of the best in its class. There are lots of soft touch-plastics and some hard touch plastics on the dashboard. Although we are not a fan of shifter buttons as you have to make sure you pushed it properly every time, or you can go the way that you shouldn’t, that’s why there are tons of interior space and they utilized that well. The third row has plenty of space, not as good as a minivan but one of the best in 3-row SUV segment.
One thing that Hyundai must change or improve, not only in Palisade, but all in their model lineup is the blind spot monitoring system. It is extremely annoying and intrusive. It beeps so loudly the first thing you want to do is disable it. Palisade’s blind spot cameras make this system obsolete; you don’t really need it. But if you don’t have that camera option, then you are pretty much stuck with this annoying system. Another bummer is especially if you are an Android smartphone user, you won’t get a full-screen experience like Apple users. We had some connection problems with Android Auto but we believe this was a problem unique to our tester.
When we check the other alternatives in this class, surprisingly the strongest contender is its cousin, Kia Telluride. Although they use the same platform, they look completely different. Hyundai / Kia tried their best not to use the same parts except the drivetrain, which means the Telluride also has underwhelming but comfort biased drivetrain. Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot get really old and they will be renewed soon, but they keep their values better than Hyundai. Subaru Ascent is also a strong contender with its symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, but it comes with a CVT transmission which may be boring for some people. Hyundai comes with torque converter 8 speed instead, which is more preferable. Ford Explorers’ new generation is also on the market for a few weeks (and we expect to test drive it soon). With a higher MSRP. Overall, Hyundai was able to enter the 3-row SUV market with a great price-performance proposition.
Conclusion & Pricing
With a stronger-than-ever product portfolio consisting of cars, CUV’s and SUV’s, the Korean automotive giant looks confidently into the future. The Palisade is a testament to this self-confidence.
Our takeaways are:
+ Great comfort and driving smoothness
+ Advanced adaptive cruise control and great infotainment
+ Good fuel economy despite being a heavy vehicle
+ Great bang for the buck in its class (at a price of higher
depreciation – almost premium German brand level)
Things need to be improved
– Intrusive Blind Spot monitoring system
– Underwhelming engine and transmission
– Shorter warranty in Canada, compared to the USA.
Article And Pictures By Dan Gunay and Varol McKars