3-Row SUVs are the minivans of the 21st century with more ground clearance. Today, they are the bread and butter for each brand and they offer several different variations. Hyundai Palisade was not the first official attempt, but it was the first serious offering to compete in the 3-row segment, so much so that it has been one of the top choices since it was released, just like its corporate sister, the KIA Telluride.
The Palisade received a mid-cycle update in the previous years, but the differences are quite minimal, especially for an untrained eye. There was no reason to change the golden formula, other than a few small tweaks to fine-tune it. The most significant one is the wider, more angular chrome grille with a diamond-shaped pattern that gives the Palisade a premium look. The headlights were also updated with the mid-cycle update, but it still has the traditional Hyundai crossover look with a two-piece headlight design.
From the side and the rear hatch, the Palisade remains largely unchanged. The rear bumper was revised with a new matte chrome skid plate, giving the Palisade a little bit more premium look. There aren’t many design gimmicks, the exhaust tips are real, and what you see is what you get here. The tailgate is quite big and goes all the way to the bottom of the vehicle, which means it offers a lot of storage space for larger items and easy to load heavier items.
In typical Hyundai fashion, the Palisade comes with a clean and modern dashboard design. Just like the exterior, there are no drastic changes in the interior. That said, Hyundai decided to use higher quality materials, especially on hard-touch plastic surfaces, especially the HVAC buttons. The interior offers a great balance of physical buttons and digital screens, unlike newer entries in the segment where they move all features to the digital screen.
The center console offers a very large storage area where you can also deploy the cupholders if you need them, but for the most time, you can move them out of the way and maximize the storage capacity. You also get a wireless charging area. The only gripe that I had is the shifter buttons, and that’s the main reason why I would choose the KIA Telluride’s shifter column. That doesn’t change the fact that Palisade offers one of the most livable interiors just like its corporate cousin.
The infotainment system used to be the class leader for so many years, but it starts to fall behind as other manufacturers started to catch up in many different ways. The larger 10.25-inch unit comes with the latest Hyundai software, and it offers great resolution with minimal input lag, but the 360 and rearview camera resolution would have been better. Also, it’s time for Hyundai to step up and offer wireless smartphone integration which is much more convenient than the traditional wired connection. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be used in full screen for the best experience.
On the positive side, the digital gauge cluster works very well, though it is not the most customizable option, features like the Blind View Monitor are one of the biggest selling points that put the Palisade ahead of the competition. Another neat feature is the Highway Driving Assist with lane centering and lane changing features. It does not offer semi-autonomous driving, but it is really close when you are on the highway. It might not be the newest kid on the block, but the Palisade still puts other manufacturers to shame when it comes to the driving assist features.
Like any other 3-row SUV, the interior space and usability are extremely important for families. The Palisade comes with 8-way adjustable power seats with 4-way lumbar support. I like the fact that it offers the same adjustability for both driver and passenger seats. The seat comfort is quite good, and the seating position is high, offering great visibility and a commanding feeling behind the steering wheel.
Even though the second-row seats are less adjustable, it still offers a very comfortable ride. The captain’s chairs are available with the higher trims, but you cannot choose an 8-seat configuration with the top trim. The Palisade stands out when it comes to the creature comforts, it is one of the few entries that offer not just heated seats, but also ventilated seats for the second-row seat passengers. You will also find HVAC controls for the rear seat occupants, and USB ports which can be useful during long trips.
The third row is where it gets very interesting. Unlike the second-row seats, it offers a power-folding third row, which can be a great or really bad feature depending on your lifestyle. I think the main reason why Hyundai wanted to keep this feature is to offer a more premium feeling, but it just takes more time compared to manually folding the seats. This feature is unavailable with the KIA Telluride no matter which trim you choose. Getting in and out is relatively easy, and due to the boxy profile, it offers a decent amount of space for third-row passengers. It is not as comfortable as a traditional minivan, but it is one of the best 3-row entries available if you are looking for the most amount of third-row legroom and headroom.
So power-operated third-row seats are nice to have for those people who are patient enough to wait, but at a cost. It offers slightly less cargo space than the Telluride, as you have to put the electric motors somewhere in the trunk. The Palisade offers 18 cubic feet (510 litres) of cargo space behind the third row, 45.8 cubic feet (1297 litres) with these seats folded and a total of 86.4 cubic feet (2446 litres) behind the driver’s seat.
The drivetrain is the main reason why Palisade can’t really compete in the premium segment. There is only one engine and transmission option, and that’s a 3.8L naturally aspirated V6 engine that generates around 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The engine is matched with Hyundai’s in-house torque-converted 8-speed automatic transmission, which is also used in other Hyundai, KIA and Genesis models. Of course, the Palisade comes with standard AWD for the Canadian market.
The V6 engine is advertised as one of the most powerful engine options in the non-premium market, and it is a very smooth engine just like the transmission. The drivetrain focuses on driving comfort more than overall performance, but you can choose different driving modes for optimal results. It still doesn’t change the fact that this is a family-oriented vehicle, and the acceleration is just adequate. The Palisade can tow up to 5000 lbs which is a common feature with the modern 3-rows. The HTRAC AWD system can send power to the front and rear axles based on the terrain mode you choose, but it is mainly a front-biased AWD system that sends power to the rear wheels when needed.
That’s what makes the Palisade quite appealing to the audience. People don’t care about the driving dynamics, or how responsive the chassis is, or even how powerful the engine is, especially in this segment. Hyundai did a great job understanding what modern 21st-century minivan buyers need and offered a family hauler in a non-minivan body layout to make it look attractive. Just like when it was first released a few years ago, the Palisade is still one of the better choices for families looking for neat features, great interior space, upscale interior design, a smooth driving experience, premium looks for the right price.
|Engine||Naturally aspirated V6, 3778cc|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||8-Speed automatic & AWD|
|Max power||291 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|Max torque||262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm|
|0-100 km/h||6.6 sec|
|Curb Weight||4423 lbs – 2006 kg|
|Fuel Economy (as tested)||19 MPG – 12.5L / 100 km|
|Price (as tested)||$59,756 CAD|