March 31, 2020 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes

2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL AWD

The Grandmaster Realized

The Hyundai Palisade is the brand’s all-new large mid-size crossover flagship replacement for the extended wheelbase Santa Fe XL (Maxcruz in other markets). It shares its hardware and chassis with the Kia Telluride which was launched a few months later. Both model names are associated with characterful and beautiful small towns in the state of Colorado. Palisade is a very scenic 19th-century town known for its cliffs, wine vineyards, and peach orchards. Unlike the Telluride however which was focused primarily on the North American market, the more scalable Palisade can be currently packaged with the excellent and dependable 2.2-liter intercooled direct-injection turbodiesel like in our Philippine domestic market which you can indent order for a whopping P3,240,000.00 (roughly $62,000.00).

Aside from the obvious differences in strategy inside and out compared to the Telluride, since they were designed by entirely independent teams, the most profound functional difference is the transmission management. The Kia uses a traditional mechanical gear knob while the Hyundai uses a push-button Shift-By-Wire arrangement (with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters) which does liberate more usable storage space in the center console and creates less dashboard clutter. It works well along with the straightforward drive mode control knob as well, allowing the driver to choose between Comfort, Eco, Sport, Snow and Smart. I prefer the steering wheel design of the Palisade over the Telluride and I would have liked the available quilted door trim option and captain’s second row-seating but our test unit didn’t come packaged with them.

The Palisade’s wheelbase is 4-inches longer than the outgoing Santa Fe XL, with a 3-inch longer and 3.2-inch wider body that swallows an additional 127-liters of trunk space. In the engine department, overall power is up from the old 3.3-liter to the updated Atkinson-cycle (with Idle Stop & Go) 3.8-liter for a better power-to-weight ratio, better fuel economy and lower emissions combined with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, up from the old 6-speed. All this goodness comes with a price of approximately 220 pounds more weight.

Our SEL test unit came in what Hyundai calls Rainforest which resembles moss-green with a predominantly grey interior. The instrument panel was analog with a 7-inch information screen between the gauges instead of the Limited variant’s 12.3-inch fully digital cluster. The infotainment system did use the neat 10.25-inch touchscreen display but did not come with the optional 630-watt, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. USB ports are abundant, seven in all (which also includes the third-row) together with a Qi wireless charging pad neatly tucked away in the center console box. The active and passive safety equipment is very generous. The Palisade uses Hyundai’s new Highway Driving Assist (HDA) system that adds another layer of intelligence to semi-autonomous features. One really outstanding new feature is the Driver Talk In-Car Intercom system that allows the driver to speak to passengers up until the third-row like a commercial airline captain that also includes the ability called Rear Seat Quiet Mode that mutes the rear speakers for passengers who want to rest with less disturbance. Another is the Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert which will literally prompt the driver that there may be a sleeping occupant in the rear that you may not see. Overall, the interior fitment, design and comfort levels are exemplary with a rich number of standard features that also include LED ambient lighting, and adjustable space management versatility.

The good fully-independent but non adaptive suspension did come with auto-rear leveling to normalize ride height in case of load. Our test unit had the excellent full-LED signature lighting and the optional 20-inch x 7.5J alloys wrapped with 245/50R20 102V Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS tires. The 13.4-inch front vented disc and 12.0-inch solid rear disc brakes performed very well. On its own, I would give the Palisade top-marks and would prefer it in every way over its direct competition the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas. But, however tightly contested, the Kia Telluride is still a smidgen better.




Engine V6, 3778 cc, dohc 24V, Direct Injection, Dual-CVVT, Atkinson-cycle, 8-speed AT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 291 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 262 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm


Top Speed 210 km/h (130 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 7.6 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 19 mpg City / 24 mpg Highway


Price as Tested (PHP) US$ 43,155.00
What's Great Very loaded with optional packages, very mature and comprehensive with clever features.
What's Not So Bested by its slightly larger, quieter, and marginally more involving Kia Telluride brother.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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