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Hyundai Palisade: Bigger Than It Looks (But As Good As They Say)

  • The 2020 Hyundai Palisade will arrive this summer, replacing the Santa Fe XL. 
  • With seating for eight, it will likely be a top choice for larger and/or growing families. 
  • Hyundai says the Palisade is their flagship SUV as it offers a “host of technology features.”   

You know how some cars seem a lot smaller in real life than they do in photos? The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is probably one of those vehicles. Hyundai says it’s a mid-sized SUV, but boy does this thing look massive. It’s a big, rectangular solid sort of ride that looks like the crate they shipped it in. The new Palisade replaces the Santa Fe XL and offers seating for up to eight, which means it’s going to be an ideal choice for larger families.

And while it might not have much style, being a Hyundai, it’s as practical as the day is long.

How Big Is The 2020 Hyundai Palisade?

For comparison, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade is about the same size as the outgoing Hyundai Santa Fe XL, the Toyota Highlander, Honda’s Pilot, the Nissan Pathfinder, and the Ford Explorer. So yeah, mid-sized. And, like its competition in this red-hot market, the Palisade is biased more towards infotainment and safety features rather than high output engines and the ability to traverse the deserts of Moab.

Hyundai calls it “Intuitive Utility,” and that’s as good a way to describe it as any. Who wants to fiddle around learning about the ins and outs of your new SUV – it should be simple and easy to figure out, no?

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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is available with 20-inch wheels. Photo: Hyundai Motor America.

The Inside Treatment: Nappa Leather & Wood Grain

The interior is designed to give you a sense of relaxation and comfort, and who’d want anything else on a long drive to see relatives, or returning home after some hand-to-hand combat at a big box store. The 2020 Palisade offers two leather options, one of which is quilted Nappa leather. The instrument panel has an available wood grain trim that does a nice wraparound throughout the interior.

The second row allows for one-touch operation – boop – it’s forward and out of the way for easy access to the third-row seats. Oh, and that third row offers power-folding/unfolding and reclining adjustments. If you’d like, there are second-row captain’s chairs available with ventilated seating surfaces. Hyundai threw in a “conversation mirror” for the driver. They naïvely claim this “allows the driver to clearly see passengers in the rear,” but what it’s really there for is for mom and/or dad to keep an eye on you kids, and if you don’t simmer down, I will turn this 2020 Hyundai Palisade around, I swear!!!

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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade offers 45.8 cubic feet of space behind the second row, and 18 cubic feet behind the third. Both fold down for additional space. Photo: Hyundai Motor America.

Safety & Security: Like A Bank Vault

The suite of safety tech includes a Blind View Monitor, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go. You get in a fender bender with this thing, and you should probably give up on driving all together.

Another nifty feature is this thing called Safe Exit Assist. The system uses radar to detect if cars are approaching and cautions passengers trying to exit the vehicle. It’s even more on top of things than that. If you try to open the door when a car is approaching, an audible and visual warning pops up on the center cluster. Safe Exit Assist will go so far as to keep the rear doors locked until an approaching vehicle has passed. Once the road is clear, you can deactivate the child locks on the rear doors.

The high-strength steel chassis for the 2020 Hyundai Palisade uses special underbody and side structures, along with multiple load paths to better disperse crash energy in the event of a collision.

Infotainment & Technology Features: Now With Mini-Pockets

Infotainment and connectivity and displays are just this side of mission control in the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Audio and navigation are on a 10.25-inch touchscreen, coupled with the 12.3-inch TFT center instrument cluster. The instrument panel gauge cluster is integrated with navigation and is coupled with the heads-up display. Two Bluetooth devices can be connected simultaneously, there are seven USB outlets, and “mini-pockets” to hold all sorts of digital devices. There are 16 cup holders, because this is America.

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Qi wireless charging pad are standard. The sound system is a Harman Kardon outfit with Clari-Fi and QuantumLogic Surround Sound tech.

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2020 Hyundai Palisade interior layout. Photo: Hyundai Motor America.

2020 Hyundai Palisade: Power & Performance

Another tech feature Hyundai gave us more information on is HTRAC with Snow Mode. HTRAC is Hyundai’s all-wheel-drive system with selectable modes (Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow). Snow Mode gives you special traction tuning for slippery conditions by adjusting front and rear power distribution; left and right wheel slip; and engine torque and shift patterns to give you the best possible footing on the road.

Naturally, Sport mode sends more torque to the rear wheels.

Speaking of drivetrain stuff, the Palisade has an Atkinson-cycle 3.8-liter V6. The engine, complete with Hyundai’s dual Continuous Variable Valve Timing system and direct injection, kicks out 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Not exactly high performance, but it should be enough to get the job done. An eight-speed automatic with a final drive ratio of 3.648:1 sends everything to the tarmac.

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Noise reduction measures on the 2020 Hyundai Palisade are numerous, and include under-hood insulation, sound-deadening carpets, and acoustically-laminated front glass. Photo: Hyundai Motor America.

Pricing & Availability

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Trim levels include SE, SEL, and Limited. Plan for a range between $31,550 (SE FWD) to $46,400 (Limited AWD) then tack on another $1,045 for destination. Colors include Beckett’s Black, Hyper White, Lagoon Silver, Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy, Moonlight Cloud, and Rainforest.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle formatFollow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

2020 Hyundai Palisade Gallery

Photos & Source: Hyundai Motor America.