While testing Hyundai’s new V6-powered, 4,400-pound Palisade SUV, I drove the majority of the week in Eco mode. Usually that fuel-saving mode for engine and transmission performance is a no-go for its maddeningly spongy throttle response.

For those who keep an eye on the fuel gauge, the Palisade’s Eco calibration is actually usable for the majority of driving. Immediate launch power is somewhat reserved, as is close-the-gap acceleration on the highway, but in between it worked to convince me I was saving fuel and emissions in a 16.3-foot-long family hauler.

It compares with the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, VW Atlas and platform partner, the Kia Telluride.



The 2020 Palisade is sold in front- or all-wheel drive (HTRAC) models, all with a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter, Atkinson-cycle, direct-injection V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel-economy ratings for front-drive models are 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 mpg combined or 19/24/21 mpg with HTRAC.

In the AWD tester, I was averaging 14-21 mpg around town and I worked up to 21 mpg combined with highway driving, and it likely would have risen with more time driving at the speed limit using cruise control.

PricingSold in seven- or eight-seat configurations, starting prices range from $32,545 to $47,445 for the Limited AWD, today’s tester; pricing includes the $1,045 freight charge from Ulsan, Korea. The tester was $47,605 with one option for three rows of carpeted floor mats, $160.

Standard Limited features include smart-key locking with push-button ignition, Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery, microsuede headliner, surround-view monitor, electric parking brake, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, wireless phone charger, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Harman Kardon audio system, LED headlights-taillights-running lights, auto-leveling rear suspension, trailering package, dual sunroofs with shades, rear seat quiet mode and a power folding third row with power recline and hands-free liftgate.

Safety features include eight air bags, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-following assist, park-distance warning, highway drive assist, downhill brake control, rear occupant alert and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist.

Movin’ on upThe Palisade is a little like moving to a new two-story home in a master-planned suburban community. It is roomy with a long list of advanced technologies, premium-quality materials and many unexpected but appreciated amenities.

The ride quality is comfortable but not soft and is well-supported with a rigid chassis, for vibration-free driving. The cabin is quiet and the rear auto-leveling suspension helps trim “head toss” at driveways and speed bumps.

The HTRAC system has six traction modes for Eco, Sport, Comfort, Snow, Smart (which adapts to your driving style) and AWD lock. Snow mode has more predictive calibrations, Hyundai says, to prevent loss of traction.

The transmission rolls through the gears so smoothly that you might not notice the transitions. Wheel sizes are 18 inches standard or 20 inches on the Limited. The tester’s all-season Bridgestone Duelers have a substantial footprint of 245/50 on the tester. Four-wheel disc braking is confident with no grab, from 13.9-inch ventilated front rotors and rear 12-inch solid rotors.

Rather than a campaign to promise a chicken in every pot, the Palisade has a USB port for every seat and 16 cup holders. And unique in this segment is Hyundai’s Blind View Monitors, which are rearward-aimed cameras at both side mirrors that switch on when using the turn signal. These eyes are especially useful when navigating the urban scourge of randomly weaving electric scooters and bikes.

The driver area is an accommodating command center with a multilevel environment of storage areas, including below the center console, with open space for phone charging and a deep armrest box. There is smart, at-a-glance access to all controls and the 10.25-inch infotainment screen is not prone to glare in sunlight.

A Driver Talk in-car intercom system allows the driver to communicate separately with the second or third rows via a conversation mode in the audio system. There also is a Rear Sleep Mode that cancels music from being transmitted to the second- and third-row speakers.

Homeward boundThe step-in height is low with no need for running boards, and the door skins extend below the sill to prevent dirty scuffs on legs and shoes.

The seats are full-bodied with eight-way power adjustment for the driver and four-way power for the front passenger. Sightlines are no problem, especially with the multiview camera that also gives front and overhead views. The 38.7-foot turning circle is smaller than some midsize sedans.

The second row has a maximum of 42.4 inches of legroom, adjustable by the sliding captain’s chairs, which also recline. There is a separate climate control system for heat and AC, fan speed and temp — and heated and cooled seats. The big glass roof panel (with shade) is a big-sky treatment and, with ceiling air vents, helps to fend off motion sickness.

The seats have a one-handed tilt-and-slide action for third-row entry. The third-row bench has more support than some in this group, but they also have power recline.

The cargo area is big-box square with a usable 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row, with usable basement storage. There are switches for the power folding and raising for the third-row seats (for 45.8 cubic feet of capacity) and power releases to fold the second row.

2 Person Tandem Bike

The lift-in height is tall at 30 inches, but there is about 7 feet of length with both rows folded. The entry is 48 inches wide by 32 inches tall.

Moving to the three-row suburbs isn’t for every family, but for less than $50,000, a palatial-feeling Palisade is move-in ready.

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