By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The 2020 Hyundai Palisade crossover had a distinctive design. It featured a huge iteration of the brand’s cascading grille framed in what looked like dulled chrome. The LED headlamps of our test vehicle were vertical and at the corner of the fenders. The hooded extended out to the grille presenting a bold face.
Though they didn’t, the glass side windows seemed to wrap around the Palisade to the third row presenting an unbroken view. The rear was wide and the vertical LED taillights mirrored the theme of the front. In fact, the Palisade looked as good or better from the back than it did from the front. That is a sure sign of great design.
But style wasn’t the trait that impressed us most about the Palisade; it was its utility. We acquired a 74-inch tall Queen Ann swivel floor mirror. It was old, hard to handle, as in pick up, and delicate. Preparing to get it in the Palisade, we were able to power down the third- row seats. It was the same for the second-row seats. We slid the mirror in on the covered flat cargo floor and it was swallowed it with no problem. In fact, the vehicle could have taken something a few inches longer.
There was 86.4 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the first-row seats. What’s more, we discovered that the third-row seats were full powered; they could be lifted back in place with the push of a button. The second row had to be manually let back up, but it was a one-step process.
The 2020 Palisade was powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that made 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and paddle shifters. This combination got 19 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg on the highway.
Those were the numbers for a Palisade with all-wheel drive which we had. This vehicle had what we call subliminal power. It was docile under normal driving conditions. But step on the accelerator and it would aggressively move ahead, even if we were already under speed.
It had five drive modes: comfort, sport, smart, snow and eco. And you can make that six if you count that it could be locked into four-wheel drive. Introduced at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai positions the Palisade as the brand’s flagship premium midsize SUV. But its unibody construction gave it a more carlike than trucklike ride.
In the press material it said that the Palisade had a 10-inch navigation screen, wireless charging, seven USB outlets and shift-by-wire. Ours had second row heated seats and roof-based diffuser vents. According to the specs, you could tote up to 220 lbs. on the roof and tow up; to 5,000 lbs. with trailer brakes.
Our test vehicle had a bench seat rather than captain’s chairs for the second row. It was spacious and the floor was just about flat. We think that three adults could sit there comfortably. With one pull of the lever, the second-row seat slid forward and the seat back flipped forward and that allowed relatively easy access to the third row.
In the front, there was a rather wide center console. The infotainment touch screen was covered by the cowl that extended over the analogue instruments. Right beneath the screen were the access buttons for the map, the navigation system, the radio and media. There was no center stack to speak of. The controls were part of the console and angled upwards. This surface area was wide and easy to use.
There were two bins. The first held the cupholders, the wireless charger and one of the USB jacks. There was no gear shifter. Like the doors and the ignition, it was push button. Or to be more precise haptic, just touch the designated space and the Palisade shifted into the gear. This shift by wire system saved a lot of room.
The infotainment screen was divided into three sections. One was the map, the other was the satellite radio and the last was something called driver talk. It was an intercom system so those rambunctious little people in the back could be threatened or told to stop it.
The instruments were analogue, and the radio had dials. We were pleased by both. The front seats were heated, so was the steering wheel. That brings us to our only complaint. When we put the Palisade in park, both shut off. They had to be reengaged upon startup. In a place where winter last months, that was bothersome.
Still, it didn’t take away from the overall experience of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade which was good. There was a moonroof. Some of the controls like blind spot alert, lane alert, the traction control and the power liftgate were on the left side of the dash. We think that was to a give spacious overall look to the compartment.
Of course, the Palisade had satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming as well as handsfree calling, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice controls, start stop for better gas mileage and 20-inch alloy wheels as well as Hyundai’s Blue Link app suite.
For $43,155, we thought the 2020 Hyundai Palisade three-row utility vehicle was and enjoyable package.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com