Hyundai Palisade is a very worthy large SUV contender

Hyundai Palisade is a very worthy large SUV contender

South Africans like big people carriers; whether it’s a minivan, bus or SUV you’ll be sure to see them on your daily commute. Hyundai is no newcomer to the space with its H1 Bus and Santa Fe, but the company also offers the very upmarket and luxurious seven or eight-seater Palisade that’s likely to ruffle a few feathers.

If you think it may have a twinge of American styling in it you’ll be right. Launched at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2018, the Hyundai Palisade competes against the Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer in that market.

Locally Hyundai says it’s a bit of a loner but if you have to look at competitors it would be the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, BMW X5, VW Caravelle, Land Rover Defender and VW’s Touareg.

The competition may be strong but the Palisade at R990 900 costs significantly less, especially when you start to tick the options list, almost all of which Hyundai provides as standard.

It’s powered by a 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 142kW and 440Nm, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission running on 20-inch alloys. It’s also fitted with paddle shifters should you need them but during the launch we found them almost superfluous and you’ll probably only need them for overtaking on narrow roads.

The Hyundai Palisade is no speedster and it wasn’t designed to be one either. It prefers cruising long distances quietly, comfortably and economically with all-wheel drive sending power to wheels as needed thanks to its Drive and Terrain modes with settings for snow, mud and sand as well as Sport, Eco, Comfort or Smart options selected via a rotary dial.

Smart mode adapts to your own driving style which I reckon is probably best once you’ve settled down with it for a couple of weeks.

The interior is as good as any of its competitors. Finishes and fittings are top notch and one touch second row seating allows the seat to move forward and out of the way for access in and out of the third row seats so you don’t have to find a lever frustratingly jiggle, push or pull to move it.

Seeing as the Palisade will see duty mostly as a family carrier Hyundai has fitted USB outlets to all three seating rows allowing seven people to keep their various devices plugged in while a wide angle conversation mirror allows the driver to clearly see what the passengers in the back are up to.

The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible and allows two Bluetooth devices to be connected, one for mobile phone duties and the other for audio streaming. There’s also a wireless charging pad.

Interestingly the Palisade has what Hyundai calls Rear Seat Quiet Mode that allows the driver and front passenger to listen to their music without it being transmitted to the second and third row audio speakers.

The centre console with its shift-by-wire system leaves a clean and clinical impression which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the interior as well that includes twin sunroofs..

What we did notice is that rear cargo space was bigger than many of the seven or eight seat competitors. Fully loaded with passengers and luggage you may have to tow a trailer but with self-levelling suspension it’s not an issue.

Driving the Palisade you’re struck by how quiet it is thanks to impressive sound dampening and even at speed on our way to Parys wind and road noise was minimal.

Like I said previously the Palisade is no racing snake but there’s enough grunt to keep up with the speed limit and then some. We tried Sport mode which tightened things up a bit but didn’t really make a significant difference before we settled back to the Smart option. It’s economical too, showing just under 7L/100km after almost 300km that included some spirited driving.

For a car that’s almost five metres long it handles impressively, something we noticed on a sweeping bend when we happened to look at the analogue speedometer without any cops to ask us if we knew what speed we were doing. That’s thanks to front steering knuckles and rear carriers made of aluminium and redesigned front lower arms.

Handling, body roll and rigidity is also improved as a result of a multiple ring shaped structure and hot stamped door-ring parts.

On dirt roads with the setting on sand it’s surprisingly nimble and stable with the AWD HTRAC system that includes an AWD locking differential doing its thing electronically. Sure, you’re not going to follow a Cruiser or Defender up mountain goat tracks but again, that’s not the Palisade’s intention.

Safety-wise you’re well taken care of with a string of features that include Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safe Exit Assist, and Rear Occupant Alert. In addition there are six standard airbags: dual front, dual side, and roll-over sensing side-curtain airbags, a full-length large side curtain airbag that includes third-row seating coverage for enhanced rear occupant protection. Tyre pressure monitoring with individual position display, two Isofix anchors in the second row of seats and one in the third as well as a rearview camera are standard.

If you’re in the market for a seven/eight seater that’s comfortable, economical, safe, with a premium interior and an outstanding warranty you will be doing yourself a dis-service if you don’t look at the Hyundai Palisade.

Here’s hoping that with Covid-19 realities and re-alignment it’s not just the badge on the keyring that counts.

The Hyundai Palisade is priced at R999 900.

Reference: Willem van de Putte (IOL Motoring)

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