Car Reviews

Hyundai aims high with the 2020 Palisade 3-row family crossover SUV

If you like the way this SUV looks, you’re probably going to like everything else about it.

Bold design will ensure that the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade is mistaken for nothing else on the road. Hyundai

With the debut of the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade, the automaker fleshes out its SUV family. Kona is the small model, Tucson is the compact model, Santa Fe is the midsize five-passenger model, and Palisade is the family-size eight-passenger model.

All but the Tucson, the oldest of the bunch, are cut from the same design cloth. The styling works perfectly on the Kona. It takes some getting used to on the Santa Fe. It might be a little too much on the Palisade. Then again, I complain that all SUVs are starting to look the same, and the new Palisade won’t be mistaken for anything but a Hyundai.

This is a sizable SUV, coming up just short of a Honda Pilot in terms of key exterior dimensions while riding on a wheelbase that is 3.2 inches longer than the Honda’s. The front overhang is tidy, the rear overhang appropriately longer, and blacked-out rear roof pillars give the appearance of panoramic rear glass and a floating roof. Hyundai says the coefficient of drag is a remarkably low 0.33 Cd.


Looking past the front end, I see some Chevy Tahoe and Ford Explorer in this design, and the vertical LED taillights evoke a late 60s Cadillac Eldorado. But maybe I’m just over-tired as I write this. A set of 18-inch aluminum wheels are standard, but you’ll want the optional 20-inch wheels to help fill the space beneath the gray overfender trim and body stampings.

Especially in higher trim levels, the 2020 Palisade’s cabin is downright luxurious.

Palisade is the roomiest Hyundai SUV yet

Aiming to provide a sense of relaxation and comfort, the new Hyundai Palisade’s interior provides seating for eight people in three rows of seats.

Up front, the driver and front passenger are separated by a center console bridge with electronic transmission controls and lower storage in a tray near the floor. Premium Nappa quilted leather upholstery is available, along with heating and ventilation.

Hyundai promises “exceptional second- and third-row seat room.” Second-row captain’s chairs are an option, and are also available with heating and ventilation. A power folding and reclining third-row seat is also available, and one-touch second-row seat operation helps to make it easier to get into and out of the third-row seating area.


Everyone gets USB charging ports, and nobody will go thirsty thanks to the Palisade’s 16 different cup holders. A conversation mirror allows the driver to keep an eye on everyone, and roof-based diffuser vents give occupants added control over the climate at individual seating locations.

Cargo volume measures 18 cubic feet behind the third-row seat and 45.8 cubic feet behind the second-row seat. Compared to the Palisade, the Honda Pilot offers a little less behind the third-row, and a little more behind the second row.

Hyundai makes critical safety technologies standard for the 2020 Palisade.

Technologically advanced, with safety a clear priority

Hyundai SmartSense is standard for every 2020 Palisade. It includes the usual suspects, and a handful of unexpected extras:

Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality

Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection

Forward automatic emergency braking

Blind spot collision avoidance assist

Rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist

Lane following assist

Safe exit assist

High-beam headlight assist

Driver monitoring system

Additionally, every Palisade is equipped with a reversing camera and a seatbelt connection warning system that is active for every seating position, letting the driver know if someone aboard the SUV isn’t properly buckled in.

A Rear Occupant Alert system is available for the Palisade. Designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten and left in the SUV, it also works if kids are playing in the Palisade and accidentally lock themselves in. An ultrasonic sensor can detect movement and will honk the horn and send an alert to the driver’s smartphone.


Another new feature is a Blind View Monitor system. When the driver signals a lane change, cameras provide a video view of what’s along the side of the vehicle, shown within the instrumentation.

The Palisade’s infotainment system offers a 10.25-inch display, and includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a free three-year subscription to Blue Link services, and the ability to pair two different smartphones at the same time. Seven USB charging ports make sure everyone aboard has plenty of juice, and wireless device charging is available.

Upgrades include a navigation system and a premium audio system with QuantumLogic surround sound and Clari-Fi digital music restoration. A 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display is also available, along with a head-up display that conveys a wealth of information projected right onto the windshield ahead of the driver.

A Driver Talk in-car intercom system allows the driver to converse with people in the second- and third-row seats, projecting his or her voice through the stereo speakers. If people are sleeping in those areas, a Sleep Mode turns off the rear speakers, allowing the people up front to continue enjoying music while those in the back take a nap.

The free three-year subscription to Blue Link is exceptionally generous. By comparison, in a Buick Enclave or Chevrolet Traverse you get just one month of similar services. Highlights include safety functions like automatic collision notification and alerts related to vehicle speed, driver curfew, and geographic boundary limits. Conveniences include a car finder if you’ve forgotten where you parked the Palisade, remote starting with climate control to heat the cabin before driving on winter days, and more.


Additionally, Blue Link is compatible with popular smartwatch and home assistant technologies: “Alexa, turn on the Palisade and warm the interior to 72 degrees.”

A 291-horsepower V6 engine is the only one offered in the 2020 Hyundai Palisade.

New V6 engine, available all-wheel drive

With the Palisade, Hyundai debuts a new vehicle platform that it will share with its corporate sibling, Kia, which will use it for the equally large Telluride SUV. It might also serve as the basis for a future pickup truck, which is a segment Hyundai has long considered entering.

A new 3.8-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 powers the Palisade, equipped with dual continuously variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. It makes 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, using shift-by-wire transmission controls. It includes automatic park logic that shifts the SUV into Park if the vehicle is turned off and the driver opens the door without selecting Park first.

Normal, Sport, and Smart driving modes adjust the powertrain’s behavior. With the optional all-wheel-drive system, the Palisade gains a Snow mode. For maximum performance on various surfaces, the AWD system is equipped with a locking differential.

If you like the look, you’ll like the Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai is gambling that expressive, even polarizing, design is the right path forward in a world where cars, trucks, and SUVs increasingly look and drive the same. At the same time, styling is typically high on the list of what actually sells a vehicle.

Based on what I learned about the new Palisade during its reveal at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, if you like the way this SUV looks, you’re probably going to like everything else about it.


Hyundai will build the Palisade in Korea, and it goes on sale this summer. Pricing and more details will be available closer to that time.