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Hyundai Palisade 3.8 GDI AWD: Palace on wheels

By Ghaith Madadha - Jul 22,2019 - Last updated at Jul 22,2019

Photo courtesy of Hyundai

Launched globally in recent weeks, the Hyundai Palisade is the giant automaker’s largest SUV to date. Effectively taking over from the Azera saloon as Hyundai’s post-Genesis flagship model in the wake of the Korean auto group setting up a separate luxury brand, the 7/8-seat Palisade combines a distinctly assertive design with sensible functionality and features. 

With palatial cabin space, thoughtful and high tech features, a classy up-market interior, useful off-road ability and smooth yet robust performance, the user-friendly stress-free Palisade is designed with what Hyundai dubs ‘maverick families’ in mind.


Imposing identity


Playing the role of “king” in what Hyundai describes as the chess set that makes up its roster of cars and SUVs, the focal point of the Palisade’s design them is its huge cascading grille. Stepping away from the “cookie cutter” familial corporate design approach so popular with many automakers in recent years, Hyundai now views the cascading grille as more of a springboard. Sharing a unifying starting point, the Palisade has a different “classical temple”-like design quality, distinct from low-slung and edgy new Sonata and upcoming Elantra saloon models.

Dominating its fascia with its broad and scale-like mesh grille, flanked by lower recessed headlight pods and dramatically slim and browed top running lights, the palisade has an imposingly sculpted presence, enhanced by its muscular wheel-arches, prominently ridged side character lines and jutting sills.

With short front and long rear overhangs, thick rear pillars and relatively level waistline and roofline, it has a grounded, statuesque and somewhat conservative stance, complemented by a big rear tailgate spoiler and vertical wrap-over rear lights, and huge standard 18-inch or optional 20-inch alloy wheels.


Progressive peaks


Almost alligator-like from front view, the Palisade is powered by a direct injection 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine under its bulging bonnet, as driven in top specification. Naturally-aspirated, the Palisade’s power delivery is progressive and eager. Responsive from the get-go, it builds to its maximum 262lb/ft torque by a peaky 5,200rpm and onto 291BHP at 6,000rpm.

Seamless and smooth yet urgent when pressed hard the Palisade’s powerful V6 delivers both effective mid-range flexibility for brisk on the move acceleration at speed, and a rewarding willingness right up to its rev limit.

Squatting slightly as it pounces from standstill, with additional traction provided by its variable four-wheel-drive system, the Palisade briskly carries its minimum 1.9-tonne frame through 0-100km/h in 7.7-seconds, and can attain a maximum 210km/h.

Confident in high wind on the highway and responsively versatile, the Palisade returns comparatively moderate 10.4l/100km combined fuel efficiency under ideal conditions. Driven through a smooth, slick and quick 8-speed automatic gearbox, the Palisade’s HTRAC four-wheel drive meanwhile is road- and front-biased for efficiency, yet seamlessly splits torque between front and rear for confident stability and road-holding.


Comfort and control


Riding on MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, the Palisade is built using a high proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel and construction methods intended to enhance torsional rigidity at better cost efficiency that with exotic materials. Additionally, it employs lighter aluminium suspension components to reduce unsprung mass. The net effect more precise suspension and steering, which is felt is when driven. For such a comfortably supple, high riding vehicle, the Palisade feels responsive, smooth and settled, with direct in-class steering and manoeuvrability, not to mention enhanced collision safety.

Turning in with little understeer and good grip, the Palisade feels tidy, manoeuvrable and well-controlled for its height and size, while body lean through corners is similarly well-managed given its comfortable ride characteristics. Through corners, the Palisade can meanwhile re-apportion more power to the rear wheels for better agility and balance. Light yet accurate, the Palisade’s steering is quick through corners, while its ride quality well absorbs most bumps, lumps and cracks, even when fitted with larger, firmer optional 245/50R20 tires rather than the ultimately more pliant standard 245/60R18 tyres.

Palatial accommodation


Reassuringly stable at speed and settled on rebound through dips and crests, the Palisade features numerous underbody covers to help it achieve comparatively low 0.33 aerodynamic drag co-efficiency, which helps noise reduction and efficiency. A refined drive with a comfortable cabin and well-adjustable, large front seats and driving position, the Palisade’s cabin offers terrific mid-row seating space, easy cabin access through wide swing angle doors and generous minimum 509-litre cargo volume behind the third row seats. Ambiance inside is airy, while its level waistline allows for comparatively good road visibility.

Inside, the Palisade has a distinctly premium feel, with good quality materials, uncluttered layouts, soft textures and an expansive horizontal emphasis including large infotainment and instrument screens.

Well-equipped with numerous infotainment, convenience and safety features including forward, blind spot, rear cross-path, lane keeping, safe exit, rear occupant and other assistant systems, it also features smart stop/go cruise control and a unique blind spot monitor view, which activates along with the indicators.

For off-road driving, it can lock four-wheel-drive at lower speeds and features Multi-Terrain Control System that adjusts various systems for different off-road conditions.



Engine: 3.8-litre, aluminium block/head, inline V6-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 96 x 87mm

Compression ratio: 11.5:1

Valve-train: DOHC, 24-valve, continuously variable valve timing

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 291 (295) [217] @6,000rpm

Specific power: 77BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 152.9BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 262 (355) @5,200rpm

Specific torque: 94Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 186.5Nm/tonne

0-100km/h: 7.7-seconds

Top speed: 210km/h

Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined: 14.4-/8.1-/10.4-litres/100km 

CO2 emissions, combined: 248.5g/km

Length: 4,980mm

Width: 1,975mm

Height: 1,750mm

Wheelbase: 2,900mm

Tread, F/R: 1,708/1,716mm

Headroom, F/M/R: 1,035/1,019/959mm

Leg room, F/M/R: 1,120/1,077/798mm

Shoulder room, F/M/R: 1,555/1,545/1,402mm

Seats: 7/8

Luggage volume, behind 3rd/2nd row: 509-/1,297-litres

Kerb weight: 1,903-2,021kg

Steering: Electric-assisted rack and pinion

Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts/multi-link

Brakes: Ventilated discs


Tyres, standard/optional: 245/60R18/245/50R20


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