Hyundai’s new eight-seater Palisade brings new levels of roominess to an overcrowded family SUV market.
The 2021 Hyundai Palisade V6 front-wheel drive is designed to give large families room to grow as their kids get older – and space for everyone to spread out on the school run and weekends away.
It has also given owners of the Hyundai Santa Fe seven-seat SUV somewhere to go once they’ve outgrown their current car.
The Hyundai Palisade looks huge in these photos – indeed, it is almost the same size as a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series. However, because it doesn’t need to package heavy-duty off-road hardware like the Toyota, it’s more space-efficient inside.
Another size reference: compared to the current Hyundai Santa Fe – with which it shares its DNA – the Hyundai Palisade is 19cm longer, 7cm wider and 40cm taller.
Helpfully, the turning circle isn’t much larger (11.8m versus 11.4m for the Hyundai Santa Fe), which means it’s easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces than a double-cab ute, and not much more of a handful compared to a mid-size sedan or SUV.
The need for a little extra wriggle room is a small price to pay for the acres of space inside the cabin and cargo hold.
Getting behind the wheel of a Hyundai Palisade is like putting on a pair of tracky dacks – or whatever pants you wear when planning to have a big feed. No matter how uncomfortable you are, the Hyundai Palisade feels right at home, like a comfortable couch. Other SUVs feel claustrophobic by comparison.
Compared to a Hyundai Santa Fe, the Palisade has noticeably more room shoulder-to-shoulder, and you’re further away from the second and third row of seats because there’s more distance between the front and rear wheels.
It’s so far between the driver’s seat and the back row, Hyundai even fitted a speaker system so the driver doesn’t need to yell at the kids.Best of all, the system doesn’t work in reverse, so the little darlings will need to scream their lungs out for you to hear them.
For now, there are only two models in the 2021 Hyundai Palisade line-up: the base grade tested here (an eight-seater with a two-three-three seating layout) and the flagship Highlander (a seven-seater with a two-two-three seating layout). Both models are available with a choice of 3.5-litre V6 front-drive or 2.2-litre four-cylinder all-wheel drive.
Prices range from $60,000 to $75,000 plus on-road costs across the four variants. We’ve tested the most affordable option in the line-up, the $60,000 Hyundai Palisade V6 front-drive. It’s about $6000 more than the similarly equipped Hyundai Santa Fe Elite V6.
According to Hyundai’s website as this review was published, the drive-away price equated to about $65,000, not including metallic paint that adds a hefty $730 premium.
Standard features include three-zone air-conditioning (driver and front passenger and then everyone else), a sensor key with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, one-touch indicators (which can be programmed to flash three, five or seven times), front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, tyre pressure monitors, a full-size spare tyre (a welcome addition in a world of space-savers), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio, embedded navigation, and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Standard safety equipment includes radar cruise control with stop-start, lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-zone warning with intervention if you’re about to cut across someone in an adjacent lane.
Tyre pressure monitors and a digital speed display are standard; however, Hyundai still does not yet have speed sign recognition technology. Instead, speed warnings are based on navigation data, which can be out of date, and doesn’t detect roadworks zones.
ANCAP is yet to issue a safety rating for the Hyundai Palisade. For now, it’s unclear if it will achieve a four- or five-star rating with the lack of a centre airbag, which is deemed a new requirement by some manufacturers to achieve top safety marks.
However, on the plus side, the Hyundai Palisade shares its core structure with the five-star Santa Fe – and the head-protecting curtain airbags cover all three rows of seats, including the rearmost roof pillar.
Other SUVs in this class – indeed, including the related Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento – only have airbag coverage to the rear glass, not the rear pillar.
The Hyundai Palisade has air vents to all three rows of seats and ample charging ports to keep everyone happy. In fact, there are more charging sockets than there are seats, for all the twin-screeners in the family, I guess.
There are seven USB ports, four 12V sockets and up to 16 cupholders (including four in each of the second and third rows). Warning: the cupholder count could equate to more toilet stops.
Hyundai Palisade service intervals are 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first. Each capped-price service for routine maintenance costs $399 per visit for the petrol (and $469 per visit for the diesel).
Over five years, scheduled servicing adds up to $1995 for the petrol and $2345 for the diesel. Warranty is five years/unlimited kilometres.
|2021 Palisade diesel||2021 Palisade petrol||For reference: 2021 Santa Fe diesel||For reference: 2021 Santa Fe petrol|
|Price||$64,000 to $75,000 plus on-road costs||$60,000 to $71,000 plus on-road costs||$48,200 to $65,200 plus on-road costs||$44,700 to $61,700 plus on-road costs|
|Engine||2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (Euro 5)||3.8-litre V6 petrol (Euro 5)||2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (Euro 5)||3.5-litre V6 petrol (Euro 5)|
|Power and torque||147kW at 3800rpm, 440Nm at 1750–2750rpm||217kW at 6000rpm, 355Nm at 5200rpm||148kW at 3800rpm, 440Nm at 1750–2750rpm||200kW at 6400rpm, 331Nm at 5000rpm|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic||8-speed twin-clutch automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Drive||All-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive||All-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive|
|Weight||1983kg to 2096kg||1897kg to 1950kg||1820kg to 1943kg||1735kg to 1858kg|
|Fuel rating label||7.3L/100km||10.7L/100km||6.1L/100km||10.5L/100km|
|Fuel type||Diesel (71L tank)||91RON petrol (71L tank)||Diesel (67L tank)||91RON petrol (67L tank)|
|Seating capacity||7 or 8 (no-cost option, Highlander)||7 or 8 (no-cost option, Highlander)||7-seater||7-seater|
|Boot volume seat up / down||311L (three rows in position), 704L (two rows in position) VDA||311L (three rows in position), 704L (two rows in position) VDA||571L (two rows in position), 782L (one row in position) VDA||571L (two rows in position), 782L (one row in position) VDA|
|Spare tyre||Full-size spare, matching alloy||Full-size spare, matching alloy||Full-size spare, matching alloy||Full-size spare, matching alloy|
|Length / width / height (mm)||4980 / 1975 / 1750||4980 / 1975 / 1750||4785 / 1900 / 1710||4785 / 1900 / 1710|
|Front brakes||340mm x 30mm ventilated discs||340mm x 30mm ventilated discs||325mm x 30mm ventilated discs||325mm x 30mm ventilated discs|
|Rear brakes||314mm x 18mm solid discs||314mm x 18mm solid discs||305mm x 11mm solid discs||305mm x 11mm solid discs|
|Tyres||Bridgestone Dueler HP 245/60R18 or 245/50R20||Bridgestone Dueler HP 245/60R18 or 245/50R20||235/65R17 or 235/60R18 or 255/45R20||235/65R17 or 235/60R18 or 255/45R20|
|ANCAP safety rating||Not yet rated||Not yet rated||5 stars (2018 rating year)||5 stars (2018 rating year)|
|Warranty||5 years/unlimited km||5 years/unlimited km||5 years/unlimited km||5 years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento||Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento||Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento||Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento|
On the road
Despite its size, the Hyundai Palisade is relatively easy to manoeuvre. There is excellent visibility all around thanks to the large glass area, front and rear sensors – plus a rear camera – which eliminate much of the guesswork when parking.
The steering is light and easy, and the cabin controls are well placed and intuitive to use. Best of all, the driving position feels comfortable.
A massive centre console and generous door pockets mean you’re never searching for somewhere to store large water bottles or whatever else you need to get through the daily grind. However, you may be searching for whatever you stored in each cubby, as it’s easy to lose stuff in there given there is so much space and so many storage options.
The second row has generous knee room, shoulder room and head room. And it’s relatively easy to clamber in and out of the third-row seats, though the third row is better suited to two rather than three kid-sized occupants.
The second row slides forward up to 220mm for ‘walkthrough’ access. However, it’s worth noting the second- and third-row seats must be tilted or lowered manually.
Both the second- and third-row seats in the eight-seater have a 60:40 split, so it’s not as easy to stow long items such as surfboards or skis when an outboard seat is still occupied. But with both back seats stowed completely flat, the cargo hold is huge. Be careful, you’ll be helping friends and family move fridges in no time.
There are three ISOFIX child seat positions on all Hyundai Palisade models. The eight-seater tested has five top-tether points, which provides more flexibility with child seat placement. Fitting five child seats would be a squeeze.
It’s a small luxury, but the one-touch auto-up power windows for all four doors is a welcome addition.One omission on this model grade: a power-operated tailgate should be standard at this money.
On the road, this particular Hyundai Palisade tested felt really well put together. The fit and finish – inside and out – were impressive, and the controls had a quality feel.
The V6 is a smooth and powerful operator, runs on regular 91-octane unleaded, and works well with the eight-speed torque converter automatic (my personal preference for vehicles of this size and type, though the CarAdvice office is divided), which shifts intuitively and seamlessly.
There’s even a subtle yet gutsy growl from the V6 when you put your foot into it. It’s not going to make up for selling the HSV Clubsport to put a deposit on the house, but people who enjoy hearing V6 energy at work may find some satisfaction in knowing how much power is under foot.
I was having so much fun in the Hyundai Palisade, I put the VBox on it to see what numbers would spit out. It did the 0–100km/h dash in a respectable and repeatable 7.6 seconds (with only a slight squeal from the front tyres), making it about as quick as a six-cylinder Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore.
While the satellite timing equipment was attached, we also tested emergency braking from 100km/h to zero, where the numbers weren’t quite as good. The Palisade pulled up in 41.1m, which is fair for a car of this size and weight, but we have seen bigger and heavier vehicles pull up a few metres shorter.
For comparison, this means the Hyundai Palisade pulls up in an emergency stop in about the same distance as a double cab ute.
The brakes are slightly bigger on the Palisade versus the Santa Fe, but tyres also play a crucial role.
The base model tested was equipped with 18-inch Bridgestone highway tyres. They had sufficient grip in corners and helped the suspension deal easily with bumps, but I suspect lagged a little when it came to dry-weather braking performance.
Nevertheless, this particular Hyundai Palisade was genuinely impressive to drive. Every now and then you test a car that feels just right.
The suspension was forgiving without feeling sloppy – and recovered quickly after bumps – and the steering was accurate without being twitchy. The engineers clearly got this one right. The fact that such a large vehicle feels more nimble than it ought to – without making it nervous – is quite an achievement. It’s a very relaxing yet sure-footed drive.
That said, we are aware of production variations from model to model based on other Hyundai cars we’ve tested. Here’s hoping this is indicative of what turns up on showroom floors.
In many ways, it’s fitting the Hyundai Palisade V6 front-drive is as quick, confident and comfortable as six-cylinder Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores used to be (among their contemporaries at the time).
Australia’s favourite family sedans for more than three decades may be long gone, but the Hyundai Palisade makes a compelling case as the modern family car. Indeed, I can see Ford Territory customers feeling at home in one of these. Perhaps this is the SUV the Holden Acadia was trying to be.
Either way, the Hyundai Palisade deserves kudos for getting the basics right. Aside from driving well – it feels sure-footed in roundabouts and winding roads – it also wasn’t as thirsty as we were expecting. The official fuel rating claim is 10.7L/100km. We recorded a fuel consumption figure of 9.1L/100km in a mix of inter-urban and freeway driving.
Although diesel models will account for the majority of sales – which could be an indicator of future resale values between the two options – the Hyundai Palisade V6 petrol is a sound alternative for those who don’t want a diesel or need all-wheel drive.
However, the price is still on the high side, so shop around – or be patient and see if any deals emerge.
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