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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is a striking new three-row SUV. / Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy
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2020 Hyundai Palisade

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One of the most significant entrants into the mid-size SUV market in years, the Hyundai Palisade rides into 2020 on low-profile tires and high expectations.

My writer's mind tells me it's never ideal when both the make and model of a vehicle are hard to spell — witness Hyundai Palisade. But more important than the spelling is what prospective buyers of Toyota Highlanders, Ford Explorers and Honda Pilots think of the new Palisade.

Three-row SUVs represent a red-hot automotive segment, and the all-new Palisade replaces the aging Santa Fe XL as the brand's champion in the class. Prices range from $32,595 for the base Palisade SE to $34,545 for the mid-trim to $45,745 for the Limited, which rivals luxury models. Our tester, with all-wheel-drive and freight and handling, rings up at $47,605.

A mechanical cousin of the splashy new Kia Telluride (they share a powertrain), the Palisade has a more buttoned-down exterior look. If the Telluride is a Land Rover look-alike for the common man, the Palisade looks more like a cross between a Honda Pilot and a Dodge Durango. It does have a lot of quilted upholstery inside, which looks good on the seats but seems a bit overdone crawling up the door panels.

FAST FACTS

* Model: Hyundai Palisade Limited AWD

* Exterior color: Rainforest

* Interior color: Black

* Engine: 3.8-liter, V-6

* Horsepower: 291

* Transmission: 8-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 24 mpg highway, 19 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Long Hyundai

* Price (as tested): $47,605

The exterior color of our tester is called Rainforest, which lies somewhere on the gray-to-black color scale. (Just a thought: If the base color of the tropical rainforest is now black, we have a problem.) The chrome grille has hints of Infiniti styling cues, and the 20-inch, 14-spoke wheels are sweet.

Our Limited-trim tester has captain's chairs in the second row (heated and cooled, no less), which adds significantly to passenger comfort but results in seating for just seven, not eight. Our 2020 Palisade Limited tester, provided by the manufacturer for a one-week Chattanooga test drive, has such high-end features as a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a self-leveling suspension and Harman Kardon sound system with in-car intercom.

some text The interior of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade includes Nappa leather upholstery. / Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy

WHAT IS IT?

The Hyundai Palisade Limited is a near-luxury, three-row SUV with seating for seven. The powertrain features a silky-smooth, direct-injection V-6 engine making 291 horsepower mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our tester is an all-wheel-drive model, which adds $1,700 to the bottom line. Locally, Long Hyundai had five 2020 Palisades in digital inventory late this week.

More Info

In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.

 

WHAT WE LIKE

The Palisade Limited has all the high-tech safety tools you'd expect at this price point, including lane-keep assist, driver attention warning and adaptive cruise control. We love (love!) the blind-spot cameras which project into the instrument cluster (toggling from left to right when you activate the turn signal). Also, those wheels are gorgeous and the climate-controlled captain's chairs are boss.


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ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

The start-stop feature, which saves gas, causes the Palisade to startle when you launch from a stoplight. The steering wheel design is pedestrian and and the dash architecture is not compelling.

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The 291-horsepower V-6 engine is relatively quiet, although the suspension is not as compliant as some competitors. (We see you, Highlander). Properly equipped, the Palisade can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

 

BOTTOM LINE

The Hyundai Palisade is a highly-refined, reasonably priced three-row SUV. If you can swing it, go for the Limited AWD trim, which pampers the driver and passengers alike.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

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