2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD - Bottom Line Review

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD - Bottom Line Review
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD: premium large three-row SUV alternative for hard to find Kia Telluride cousin.

Vertical valley cliffs in the New World, uncommon to the Old World, were described as resembling defensive fences made of posts by explorers such as 16th century Italian, Giovanni Verrazzano. These "palisades" which take up residence anywhere from the lower Hudson River valley to California's Sierra Madre range stand in marked contrast to the more sloped craggy Rocky Mountain peaks of the San Miguel, nestling Telluride, Colorado.

Standing no less impressive than its Rockies ski resort namesake sibling is the 2020 Hyundai Palisade.  Though, as with all who share parental DNA, this all-new full size family utility vehicle crosses over the landscape with its own distinctive traits.

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WHAT: All new 2020 Hyundai Palisade full-size 3-row family crossover utility vehicle.

Standard Power: 3.8L, direct injected, dual VVT-i DOHC 24V V-6 gas engine = 291 hp/ 262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm + 8-speed planetary automatic transaxle.

  • Idle Stop and Go
  • 5 Drive modes: Smart, Sport, Comfort, Eco Snow
  • Optional Drivetrain: PTU to viscous multi-clutch differential all-wheel drive

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Despite the more conspicuous grille the 2020 Hyundai Palisade comes across as more swept back sport wagon than the closely related boxy Kia Telluride .

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD: imposing molten iron grille

Distinctive Traits: Matte chrome molten iron trapezoid grille; Sharper outboard hood valleys; √ Swept back white LED DRLs separated from bumper placed vertical headlamps; Floating roof created by darked D-pillar greenhouse banding; Twin valley roof spoiler frame follows lower into liftgate; Lower liftgate license plate area cinched; Inverted hockey stick taillamps face outboard, flowing into beltline crease; Lower rear fascia chrome bezel and reflectors align with taillamp array. Flared pentagonal twin chrome right side exhaust tips.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

Paliride DNA: Clamshell hood, low beltline, tall greenhouse + acutely pushed out liftgate joined to cinched and upward rising rear bumper; Lower side spat, Wide quarter panel body flaring.

WHY: Alternative, if sometimes sweeter flavor of the "Paliride" premium full size crossover SUV twins.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since mid 2020

WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Ulsan, South Korea

WHERE TO:   Lockable 50:50 all-wheel drive torque split + 8.0" ground clearance means probably never getting stuck in accumulated air frozen H20 crystals.


For now the only power choice is the 3.8L twincam V-6 mill, shared with the Kia Telluride. The partner is a syrupy if averse to lock low gear ditto-ed 8-speed transmission. Torque from the natural breather available at lofty revolutions produces more canter than robust gallup. Owing to the center console push button transmission selector, only Palisade, of the cousins, is fitted with steering wheel dorsal shift paddles.

With such supple manners for a big crossover, an off camber axle can relate subtle shudder. But with the optional automatic rear ride height leveling dampers overall body discipline is up and maneuvers demand lower inputs than the Telluride recently tested. Palisades low drag profile less can't prevent cross wind buffeting, yet the innards remain insular to a passing outside world. Obtaining decent friction from disc binders all around is possible once an initial pedal "mush zone" is surpassed.

HOW FAR: 22 combined miles per gallon observed fuel economy; 450 miles highway range.

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Firmly a full-size crossover, Hyundai Palisade = +4.0" inches wheelbase & +3.0" inches length greater than the previous 3-row Hyundai Santa Fe.

- 2020 Hyundai Palisade 114.2" wheelbase = Kia Telluride; 6.7" < Chevrolet Traverse; 5.7" < Dodge Durango; 4.9" < Ford Explorer, 3.4" > Toyota Highlander, 3.1" < Volkswagen Atlas; 3.2" > Honda Pilot.

44.1"-inches Row 1 legroom = 2.1" > Kia Telluride

42.4"-inches Row 2 legroom = 4.0" > Chevrolet Traverse; 3.8" < Dodge Durango; 3.0" > Ford Explorer ; 4.6" > Toyota Highlander, 4.8" > Volkswagen Atlas; 4.0" > Honda Pilot.

31.7"-inches Row 3 legroom = 1.8" < Chevrolet Traverse; 0.1" > Dodge Durango; 0.5" < Ford Explorer, 4.0" >  Toyota Highlander, 2.0" < Volkswagen Atlas; 0.2" < Honda Pilot.

HOW USEFUL: Low load floor floor bumper cover chrome scuff plate; 60/40% sliding, power tilting back split 2nd Row seatbacks; Fold & slide 2nd Row access to 3rd Row; Available cargo shade; +1 Wide front seat cushion; +1 Outward visibility from low cowl, narrow front & side pillars, tall tailgate window; +1 Front & 2nd Row door pocket, 3rd Row wall storage; +1 Tow Rating: 5000 lbs.

PARTICULARLY USEFUL: +1 Hands-free, dual speed power liftgate; +1 Power folding 50/50% split 3rd Row seat backs w/ manual raising (unavailable in Kia Telluride);

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

Not So Useful: -1 4-prong tow package receiver requires 7-prong trailer adapter

  • 2020 Hyundai Palisade 87.0 cu. ft. cargo space (max.) = 11% < Chevrolet Traverse; 3% > Dodge Durango; 1% < Ford Explorer, 5% >  Toyota Highlander, 11% < Volkswagen Atlas; 4% < Honda Pilot.

HOW SAFE IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus* ; 7 airbags; Rear camera; Forward & rear sonar park assist; Blind Spot Warning (available); Forward collision & pedestrian avoidance braking; Full adaptive cruise control; Lane departure warning, keep assist, trace; Rear Cross Traffic Alert, collision avoidance; Automatic high beam headlamps; -1 Blind spot warning remains an option in such a large vehicle.

SAFETY STANDOUTS: +1 Approaching side traffic 2nd Row door lock-in with daylight bicycle recognition; Sonar based 2nd Row occupant minder which notifies in cabin & by smart phone application.

* Surpasses 2020 Kia Telluride IIHS rating due to improved headlamp beam.

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY:    A beveled center stack to center console differentiates the 2020 Hyundai Palisade cockpit from a Telluride's. Palisade's push button transmission selector moves adjustable twin cupholders from the Kia's elbow convenience to placement suited to rested hands. Simulated turned metallic panels and damped covers imply exotic. The Premium package's bleached high contrast wood grain along mid dash earns it company among luxury extants. Organically shaped controls exhibit a rich brushed metallic finish, then cooled at night by a soothing blue glow. A tight ballistic mesh impresses for the headliner. Above the waist panel fit is betters several competitors.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

Contrast stitched, perforated, leather seating, front & 2nd Row heated; Power front seats: Driver's 10-way w/ 2-position memory, front passenger 8-way;  4 power windows = front x full express; Heated tilt & telescoping, cross-stitched leather wrapped steering wheel; Dual analog dial gauges Fore center console twin dial and button 3-zone automatic climate switchgear; Row 2 door manual sunshades; +1 Lower left lower dashboard dimmer & driver assist controls; +1 Wind & road noise isolation.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

Cool Gizmo(s): Driver's Talk Row 3 broadcast; Row 3 audio muting; Retracting center console cupholder brackets.

Details Done Right: Drive mode color variable 7.0"-inch color TFT center trip data / drive status display; Fully padded and contrast stitched dashboard; Matte metallic and wood dashboard and door accents; Middle dashboard pebble graining; Metallic vent bezels; +1 Grooved brushed metallic toggle integrated steering wheel spoke controls; +1 Brushed metal mid-dashboard media switch buttons.

Nearly Non-Descript-1 Thinner cargo bay carpets; -1 3rd Row and aft dark, hard grained plastic wall & pillars; -1 Poor canted climate control display visibility.

HOW "APP" -LICABLE: Center dash-top 10.25"-inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment tri-horizontal pane screen; +1 Large touch display icons; Voice learning hands-free communications; Native GPS HD voice command, guidance navigation; 6-speaker, 240 W audio w/ streaming audio & HD radio; Mobile powered Android Auto/ Apple Car Play application & navigation overlays; BlueLink Apps.

Subscription based: Sirius XM & Sirius XM TravelLink (90 days included trial); BlueLink telematics (5 years included)

USB x 7, 12V x 3 (incl. cargo bay); 110V AC x 1; +1 Floating center stack w/ sub storage & connectivity; Damped sliding covered center console bin w/ Qi wireless charging.

HOW MUCH: $43,155 = 2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL V6 AWD retail price

WHAT'S MISSING: Greater base audio system volume.

ANY COMPETITION: GMC Acadia: +1 Intellilink infotainment, cargo management; Dodge Durango: +1 rear-drive platform, SRT opt.;  Ford Explorer: +1 rear-drive platform, hybrid & ST options; Honda Pilot: +1 cargo space, tight as drum build; Kia Telluride: +1 power folding 3rd row seatbacks, full virtual gauge cluster;  Mazda CX-9: +1 cabin finish, handling balance; Subaru Ascent+1 turbocharged flat-6 motor; Toyota Highlander: +1 Ride comfort, hybrid option; Volkswagen Atlas: +1 VR-6 sounds, 3rd row access.

BOTTOM LINE: Satisfying beaut among rock formation full size family SUVs.

(Contributing Editors: Tomasz Paluch)