Tech galore, dazzling looks, and room to spare make this three-row SUV one of the best family-friendly SUVs we’ve driven. But there’s more…
- Year, make, model: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Limited AWD
- Engine: 3.8-liter V6 with 291 horsepower
- Seating capacity: Seven
- Sets of car seat anchors: Three
- EPA-estimated MPG (as tested): 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway (20.3 mpg combined)
- Price (as tested): $31,775 ($47,605)
- Related vehicles we’ve tested: Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander.
- In a nutshell: The palisade wows with its generous size, over-the-top comfort, and cutting-edge tech offerings. It also only features three sets LATCH anchors, which could be a problem for some families.
While most would think that the recipe for a family vehicle is a simple one, the reality is that things have come a long way from the wood-paneled Chrysler Voyagers that many of us grew up in. Nowadays, kids head into cars with more than just a comic book and perhaps a Sony Walkman—and as a result—have different needs and expectations. Parents, too, want more out of their car, with AM/FM radio or a cassette/CD player not cutting it anymore. (Many of you just went, “a what??”)
Cue in the 2020 Palisade SUV, Hyundai’s newest full-size SUV and by far the best Hyundai-badged vehicle I’ve ever driven. All-new for 2020, the Palisade represents the pinnacle of family transportation in a similar fashion than the old-school minivan once did decades ago. How? First, there’s the size of it. It has generous proportions, which make it not only look big and regal but also fit a ton of stuff along with eight people. In our case, our tester featured two captain chairs in the middle row instead of a bench seat, so it was technically a seven-seater. And although we don’t need to transport that many people, it did come in handy with our seven-month-old, 95-pound Newfie puppy. Second, its easy-to-understand technology. It has all the bells and whistles in the entertainment and safety front, but they’re not hard to use or comprehend. Third and final, its ride quality is close to that of a six-figure luxury SUV.
Our Time Behind the Wheel
On the road, the Palisade rolls quietly and with confidence. The long wheelbase makes it feel sturdy and the ride height is tall enough to induce a sense of security behind the wheel but it’s not as high as that of the Chevy Suburban or Tahoe. The V-6 does a good job of carrying the heavy Palisade around busy city streets or the open road, but make sure to plan ahead when already cruising at around 70 mph, as quick acceleration isn’t its forte at highway speeds. The suspension feel is by far the highlight of the driving experience, as well as the quiet cabin. Both of those make for a luxurious and serene ride that made us long for a serious road trip.
Our tester featured all the bells and whistles in terms of technology, which for the most part are all standard even in the entry-level models. Forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist were all included, but our favorite was the blind-spot monitor. Like in most vehicles, the system alerts you when another object is in your blind spot, but the Palisade also uses its side cameras to feed you a live image on the digital gauge cluster. This way, not only do you know that there’s a vehicle, but also what kind it is and exactly where it’s at, how fast it’s moving, etc. It’s quite genius, really.
With room for seven or eight passengers, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade is definitely designed with big families in mind. That being said, the needs of a family with three toddlers aren’t the same as one with three teenagers. In this case, our kids fall across the entire age spectrum, so we get to experience a little bit of everything.
The Palisade offers three LATCH anchoring points for your car seats needs—two in the middle row and one in the third row. Yes, this is good, but it’s also disappointing for an eight-seater, which we believe should offer at least five sets of these. If that’s not an issue for you, then know that your older kids will be sitting pretty in comfortable leather seats that can also be heated. Also, the two back rows boast their own climate zone, so the kiddos can adjust their own hot or cold temperature as they please.
Access to the third row isn’t exactly stellar, even though a quick push of a button makes the second-row seat slide forward. If your kids are under eight or 10, you may still need to help them slide the heavy seat back after they jump into the back row. The 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space, on the other hand, provide more than enough room for the traditional shopping trip or sporting event, or even tailgating adventure. Fold the third row up, and you’ll keep a somewhat decent 18 cubic feet of space, which is still enough for a couple of carry-on suitcases or duffel bags. Or in the case of some, folding strollers.
The Palisade is comfortable, good-looking, and is quite enjoyable to drive. In terms of pricing, it’s definitely value-packed, too. We truly enjoyed its many amenities like heated and cooled seats, safety tech, panoramic sunroof, ultrasonic rear occupant alert (which we had to disable because our dog kept triggering it), and the large 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the center stack.
Like I began the story, the recipe for modern family transportation isn’t what it once was, but it’s also not rocket science. Families nowadays need ways to charge their devices, sync their devices, and enjoy their devices safely on the road—all while being comfortable and safe. If all of this can be had at a decent price, then mission accomplished. The Palisade, then, seems to check all the boxes.