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2020 Hyundai Palisade First Drive Review: The Name of the Game is Value

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade takes Hyundai’s strong value proposition and applies it to the mid-size SUV segment.

Hyundai has been on a roll when it comes to sport utility vehicles. Everyone loves the Kona, the Tucson and Santa Fe have been redesigned, and the Venue is looking forward to making life difficult for the Nissan Kicks. And then there’s the 2020 Hyundai Palisade.

Unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Palisade takes the throne in Hyundai’s SUV lineup. Larger than the Santa Fe and offering three rows of seats, the Palisade squares off against some tough competition in a segment where consumers want space and tech, but also comfort and refinement. Its main competition will come from the upcoming redesigned Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, the Volkswagen Atlas, the Chevrolet Traverse, the all-new Ford Explorer and last but not least, the new Kia Telluride. The latter is essentially the Palisade’s brother. They share the same engine and architecture, but design and pricing structure vary.

If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can seat 8 passengers and can’t stand the idea of a minivan, this is a good time for you. Automakers have put a lot of effort in designing their three-row offering and there’s no shortage of quality models available. The 2020 Hyundai Palisade falls in that lot.

2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior

It’s not exciting or revolutionary in any way, and if you’re familiar with Hyundai you won’t be surprised one bit about how the Palisade behaves, feels, and even looks inside; but Hyundai designs some quality products and there’s no reason to change a proven recipe. The 2020 Palisade makes full use of that recipe.

What we find in the 2020 Hyundai Palisade is an impressive value proposition first and foremost. We also find a quality interior that looks and feels expensive and refined, more so than the Palisade’s starting price would dictate. We also get an engine that gets the job done, a strong infotainment game, all the tech you think you need, and a lot of features at a reasonable price. What we don’t get is as much space as some of the SUV’s direct rivals.

Again, this is no different from the Kona, the Tucson or the Santa Fe. None of those models beat out their competition on pure versatility. They do very well in their segments because they provide a ton of bang for your buck with better-than-average quality everywhere.

2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior

As I stepped inside the Palisade for the first time, my attention immediately turned to the quilted leather in the door panels and the upper portion of the seats. Audi immediately comes to mind. It’s not tacky or overbearing, it’s just elegant and luxurious. Granted these seats aren’t standard, but they give a lot of credibility to the top-of-the-line Palisade Ultimate.

5 questions about the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade answered

2020 Hyundai Palisade Versions and Trims

There are four versions of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade available in Canada. Let’s break it down in simple terms.

Hyundai Palisade Essential – $38,499

– Hyundai Smartsense active safety
– 8-inch touch-screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
– Heated front seats
– Heated steering wheel
– 18-inch wheels

Hyundai Palisade Preferred – $45,499

– AWD standard
– Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
– Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
– Safe Exit Assist
– Keyless entry with push-button start
– Three-zone climate control
– 20-inch wheels

Hyundai Palisade Luxury – $50,199

– 10.25-inch touch-screen with navigation
– Harman/Kardon premium audio
– Leather seats
– Power folding third-row
– Blind View Monitor
– Surround View Monitor
– BlueLink

Hyundai Palisade Ultimate – $53,999

– Premium Nappa leather seats
– Head-up display
– 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
– Exclusive 20-inch wheels

All-wheel drive is standard starting in the Palisade Preferred and available for an extra $2,000 in the base Palisade Essential. Hyundai think nine out of 10 buyers will choose all-wheel drive and we believe them. There’s really no point in not getting it so our advice is don’t be in the other 10 percent.

All 2020 Hyundai Palisade models are powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine making 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds and an 8-speed automatic manages torque distribution. For towing purposes, the Palisade is among the leaders in its segment.

2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade

There are a variety of drives modes available to customize the way the Palisade behaves, but you won’t see that much of a difference between the Comfort and Sport modes. There’s also ECO and Smart available but keep it in comfort and let the Palisade do what it does best. Snow, Mud and Sand modes are available, and we did see the difference it made on a slippery surface. Most won’t need to use Mud and Sand, however, as we picture Palisade owners sticking mostly to the highway and urban boulevards, but Snow Mode will be handy in winter.

The Palisade is in no way fast, but it does have good passing power and decent quickness off the line. Better yet, it’s not too noisy when pushed and the gearbox makes itself invisible in every situation. This is an SUV built around comfort and part of that means removing any sort of jerkiness or hesitation from the engine and gearbox. You do feel a bit disconnected from the road which was slightly surprising given how other Hyundai SUVs tend to be on the sportier side in their respective segments. The Palisade isn’t at all and seems to leave that to the Kia Telluride.

2020 Hyundai Palisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior

On The Road in the 2020 Hyundai Palisade

On the flip side, comfort is up there with the Honda Pilot and other comfort-focused mid-size SUVs. Cruising along the long stretches of winding Idaho roads, the Palisade felt in control and confident. It glided along and offered us a cabin worthy of a luxury utility vehicle. It’s very quiet, the layout is clean but nice, and it doesn’t make it hard to spend hours behind the wheel. The fact that the gearbox selector is a set of buttons make for a very uncluttered design and contributes to the airy feeling found in the cabin.

The Ultimate’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is a nice touch that adds another reason to go with the top model in the Palisade lineup. Family-friendly features such as Driver Talk which amplifies the sound of the driver’s voice in the third row as well as Quiet Mode that mutes the speakers in the back are nice additions. There is a ridiculous amount of cupholders, 16, but the Subaru Ascent still has it beat in that department. There are also 7 USB charging ports spaced along the cabin.

Space is fine upfront and better than the Atlas, Highlander and Pilot in the second row. The third row is better than average, especially in terms of head room, but the Pilot and Atlas have it beat. Cargo capacity is where the Palisade doesn’t measure up. We love that it has those power folding seats, but they fold down to reveal just over 1,200 liters of total space. The Atlas, Pilot and Highlander offer considerably more. With all three seats in place, the Palisade is missing about 20 liters to compete with the most spacious models in its segment. It’s certainly not a huge difference, but it puts the Palisade middle of the pack in terms of overall versatility.

It’s still spacious, however, and it leads the way in a range of other areas that matter including having all of the safety and connectivity features you’re looking for, plenty of towing capacity, and an added touch of refinement that makes it feel a bit more upscale than some of its other competitors.

What The 2020 Hyundai Palisade Does Best

– Comfort
– Interior quality
– Towing capacity
– Plentiful connectivity and safety technology
– Good pricing structure
– Strong standard equipment list

Areas of Improvement

– Cargo capacity
– Sportiness

Other Reviews to Check Out

Volkswagen Atlas
Honda Pilot
Ford Explorer
Kia Telluride
Mazda CX-9

2020 Hyundai Palisade Images
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior
2020 Hyundai Palisade Interior


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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email


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