I recently had the chance to drive the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited, which is a Hyundai crossover that costs nearly $50,000. That’s big money for a Hyundai, and especially big money for a crossover from Hyundai, as Hyundai’s priciest successful crossover to date has been the small Tucson.
But the Palisade is here, and it’s surprisingly a bit of a bargain. This became evident the moment I first stepped inside the Palisade, which is when I realized that the interior is a step above its mechanical sibling, the Kia Telluride, which I tested earlier this year. The two SUVs share their underpinnings, including their 290-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, but the Telluride is intended to be more of the "fun" and "sporty" model in this duo. The Palisade, then, is aiming a bit more at the "upscale" crowd.
And, indeed, it succeeds. The interior of the Limited model I drove is handsome, with leather upholstery that’s quilted and elegantly stitched in places. The dashboard is nice, the trim is surprisingly upscale, and Hyundai has avoided cheap gloss black plastic many automakers use in favor of nicer, higher-quality stuff. Looking around the Palisade, you might think it’s a luxury SUV more than a family crossover.
But, indeed, it is a family crossover, and Hyundai has nailed that part of things too. The Limited model I drove has all the usual safety gadgets — automatic forward collision braking, many camera angles, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display — but it also touts an impressive array of new, thoughtful features. Consider, for instance, the "Driver Talk" feature, which amplifies your voice to third-row passengers so you don’t have to turn around and yell at kids who won’t behave. There’s also a feature that will shut off rear speakers, so you can still listen to music while driving home without disturbing your sleeping kids in back. And entering the third row is tremendously easy, with the literal push of one single button — of which there are two options, for taller or shorter third-row climbers.
On the road, the Palisade drives reasonably well. The high point is unquestionably the quiet engine, whose noise never seems to enter the cabin, even under full acceleration. Less impressive are steering and handling (mediocre, but completely acceptable for the class) and acceleration, which is only just average among the segment. The ride quality is above average, though not quite luxury car level, but seating position and visibility is good.
Visibility, in fact, is especially good thanks to a trick feature that turns on blind spot cameras when you activate the turn signals. It’s an amazing touch, one of the best I’ve seen, and it functions by instantly turning on high-resolution camera displays in the gauge cluster the moment you turn on your signals. Your blind spot is dramatically lessened thanks to this fantastic feature, which I wish would find its way into all cars.
In the end, the Palisade is a tremendously late arrival for Hyundai, who had only previously stepped into this segment years ago with the unsuccessful and mediocre Veracruz crossover. But now it’s finally here, and it’s an excellent entrant — and it really does feel like bargain luxury SUV, when you consider its massive amount of technology and impressive features. No, it doesn’t say "BMW" or "Lexus" on the front, but from the inside you might be surprised how little you notice the difference. Find a Hyundai Palisade for sale