2020 Huyndai Palisade Limited AWD: Value-packed three-row SUV
When I tested the 2020 Kia Telluride in September, I thought it was the most value-packed three-row SUV on the planet. It looked bold, had an amazing amount of interior space, drove well, and the fully loaded SX V6 AWD version only cost $48,100. And that included an impressive 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Now that I've driven the mechanically similar 2020 Hyundai Palisade, I am honestly torn about which one is best. Auto writers know that Kia and Huyndai are owned by the same parent company and their competing vehicles share major components, include platforms, engines and transmission. But each is styled, trimmed and tuned differently enough that they have their own character.
That makes choosing between the Telluride and Palisade a matter of taste. I personally prefer the Telluride because it has a firmer ride and more aggressive exterior. But I suspect most buyers will choose the Palisade because it is slightly more comfortable and refined looking. And at $47,605, our top-of-the line test Limited AWD version was a slightly better value.
Midsize three-row SUVs are relatively new, at least those with enough room for two adults in the third row, like the Palisade. Until fairly recently, if you wanted to carry seven or eight adults in genuine comfort, your choices were limited to full-size SUVs and the larger minivans. But many manufacturers have now figured out how to create almost as much interior room in midsize SUVs, which must also be configured for the rear differentials needed for their optional all-wheel-drive systems.
As a result, buyers now have a lot midsize three-row SUVs to choose from. Most are crossovers, meaning they have a platform more like a car than a truck frame. Models range from affordable to luxury, and some of the lower priced models can be outfitted with enough options to effectively compete against premium ones at lower price points.
That is the case with the 2020 Palisade Limited AWD, which looks and drives like a far more expensive vehicle. It is amazing how far Hyundai (and Kia) have come over the past decade. They first entered the US market by selling inexpensive but unrefined small vehicles for slightly less the Japanese companies. But now all of their vehicles are more than competitive with equivalent vehicles by any manufacturer.
At the heart of both the Palisade and Telluride is a 3.8-liter Gas Direct Injection V6 that pumps out 291 horsepower and 262 foot pounds of torque. Although those figures are just average, the engine is mated to an impressive eight-speed automatic transmission and available HTRAC AWD system. All of that is controlled by a dial on the center console that allows drivers to select between five different drive modes, ranging from Eco to Comfort, Sport, Smart and Snow. There is even a button for locking the center differential for heavy mud and snow, and for moderate off-road driving.
Our test Palisade was equipped with captain's chairs in the second row of seats. That made it easy to reach the third row, which is genuinely large enough for two adults or three teens. Cargo space is limited with the third row up, of course, but is large with it down. The leather interior gave it a genuine luxury feel.
But the Palisade is about more than hauling people. It can also work hard. All models come standard with a transmission cooler, trailer pre-wiring and sway control, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with the dealer-installed trailer hitch.
On the road, our Limited AWD version felt remarkably solid and comfortable. The suspension was supple enough to easily absorb road imperfections without being too soft. The only downside was a little wind noise around the windows that was easily drowned out by the excellent upgraded stereo.
The three-row SUV segment is very competitive these days, with a wide range of offerings from many manufacturers. But when it comes to value, the 2020 Palisade Limited AWD is hard to beat.
2020 Huyndai Palisade Limited AWD
Base price: $45,400
Price as tested: $47,605
Type: Midsize three-row SUV
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (291 hp, 262 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Smart, Snow
EPA estimated mileage: 19/24
Overall length: 196.1 inches
Curb weight: 4,387 pounds
Final assembly: Ulsan, Korea
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