New Car Previews

Preview: 2020 Hyundai Palisade

Move over Santa Fe and Tucson, Hyundai is moving further west and way upscale. Meet the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade. A three-row crossover with some luxury touches you wouldn’t expect and loads of road-trip friendly tech.

The Palisade is Hyundai’s new flagship. That means lots of flagship-level luxury features, like available quilted Nappa leather. If that’s not enough – and this is some good-looking leather for the class – the Palisade offers up ventilated captain’s chairs as an option. But not just for driver and passenger, Hyundai is offering those to passengers sitting in the middle row. Not a common feature in any crossover, let alone one in this segment.

With the new Palisade, Hyundai has also changed up rear-seat climate control. Instead of vents scattered around the cabin, they have added an innovative roof vent diffuser. It can focus air on certain areas, or fully diffuse the climate-controlled air to the rear passengers. Hyundai says it makes for a draft-free and quieter cabin.

This is a big crossover, too. At 4,980 mm long, it’s 76 mm longer than the Santa Fe XL. That’s nearly 100 mm longer than the Highlander and just 66 mm shy of the Ford Explorer. On the inside, it offers up similar headroom to the competition, but at 1,076 mm it has 73 mm more room in the third row than the Explorer and 101 mm more than Highlander.

Powering this big SUV is a big engine. A 3.8L V6 with direct injection. It offers 291 hp and an estimated 262 lb-ft of torque. That puts it solidly in the running with other similarly sized crossovers. The only transmission is an eight-speed automatic, and both front- and all-wheel drive are available. The engine uses the Atkinson cycle, which is generally used with hybrids but alters valve timing to improve fuel economy.

The HTRAC all-wheel drive system offers up a Sport mode that Hyundai says sends more power to the rear wheels for what they call a more dynamic feel. It also has a snow mode that adjusts torque distribution left and right as well as front and rear, along with controlling engine torque and shift patterns to make the most of available traction. It also offers a locking centre differential.

The bright colours of available leather, along with the smooth and light wood trim that wraps around the dash lend the Palisade an upscale feel. It also gives it an air of space. Not that it’s small, but it definitely looks airy and inviting inside.

The instrument cluster is fully digital, with a 12.3-inch screen. It can offer multiple information modes and different drive mode illuminations. There’s also a head-up display to project relevant information to the driver in the windshield.

The Palisade offers a 10.25-inch touchscreen to control the infotainment system. That system can actually operate two Bluetooth connections simultaneously, using one for a phone connection and the other for audio. The rear-seat riders can pick the music while the driver can still use hands-free calling. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, and wireless charging is available.

Thanks to a push-button shifter, space is freed up under the centre console for a large storage space.

For passengers, seven USB ports are available. That includes two located in the back of the front seats, more easily accessible to rear-seat passengers. There are also small pockets to hold devices. 16 cupholders help make sure every occupant can stay hydrated.

Hyundai has added a rear-seat intercom system to let the driver communicate with passengers. There’s also a sleep mode that turns off the rear speakers to let the driver listen to audio without disturbing anyone asleep in the back. Or so that the rear passengers don’t have to listen to the horrible music choices of their parents.

The Palisade is loaded with safety features too. Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, lane guidance, rear cross-traffic, safe exit assist, automatic high-beams, and radar cruise control.

It also offers an available rear occupant alert that uses a sensor to tell you if you’re forgetting a person or pet in the back. It will honk to alert you and can even send a message to your phone through the BlueLink app. Hyundai is offering a blind-view monitor that shows you a side-mounted camera view every time you turn on the signal –  like Honda’s LaneWatch, but on both sides – to make lane-changing safer and less stressful.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is set to arrive at Canadian dealers next summer.