Hyundai now has a proper, full-size family SUV – and it’s one of the few in the class available with seven or eight seats.
The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is the Korean car maker's biggest and most expensive SUV model to date.
Originally made for the US and Middle East, the Hyundai Palisade is designed to appeal to families who need a large SUV but don't want a heavy-duty off-roader – or need to tow heavy loads. Indeed, the only other eight-seaters in the segment are certain versions of the Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol.
The Hyundai Palisade is available in two grades of luxury, both come with leather seats. The flagship Highlander has a choice of seven or eight seats as a no-cost option.
The petrol V6 front-wheel-drive versions start from $60,000 and $71,000 plus on-road costs. The diesel all-wheel-drive versions start from $64,000 and $75,000 plus on-road costs.
Both models come with a full suite of advanced safety technology including 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. Instead, the speed warnings rely on the navigation data, which can be out of date, and doesn't detect road works zones. On the safety front, the top of the range Palisade Highlander gains a digital dash that displays images from the blind zone cameras.
The base model is fitted with 18-inch wheels and tyres and the flagship gains 20-inch rubber. Helpfully, there’s a full size spare tyre slung under the rear of both models.
The flagship Palisade Highlander gains dual sunroofs over the first two rows of seats, heated, cooled and power-operated front seats, and a power-operated tailgate, as well as nappa leather.
If you order the seven-seat option – which has two captain's chairs in the second row – the Highlander comes with heated and cooled seats for second-row passengers too.
For a more detailed price and specs rundown, see our coverage here.
The third row can technically fit three passengers, though it’s a bit of a squeeze and still suited to kids rather than adults.
But there should be no arguing over infotainment and drink holders. Both Palisade models have seven USB ports, four 12V sockets and up to 16 cup holders, including four in the each of the second and third rows. So there may be no arguments for access to a charge port, but there could be more toilet stops on long trips.
The good news is it will be relatively easy to get in and out of the third row seats. The second row slides forward up to 220mm, for walkthrough access. However it’s worth noting the second and third row seats must be raised or lowered manually. And both back rows in eight-seat versions have a 60:40 split, so it’s not as easy to stow long items such as surfboards or skis when the outboard seats are still occupied.
There are air vents for all three rows, and the head-protecting curtain airbags cover all three rows of seats, including the rear-most roof pillar. Other SUVs in this class, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, only have airbag coverage to the rear glass, not the rear pillar, which is best-practice.
There’s no ANCAP safety rating yet for the Hyundai Palisade, but it’s unclear if it will achieve a four, or five-star rating with the lack of a centre airbag, deemed a new requirement by some manufacturers to achieve top safety marks.
Both the seven and eight-seat versions of the Hyundai Palisade come with three ISOFIX child seat positions. The eight-seater has five top tether points, though this is more about flexibility and options of seat placement. Fitting five child seats could be a bit of a squeeze. The seven-seater has four top tether points.
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 @ 3800rpm 440Nm @ 1750-2750rpm||217kW @ 6000rpm 355Nm @ 5200rpm||148kW @ 3800rpm 440Nm @ 1750-2750rpm||200kW @6400rpm 331Nm @ 5000rpm|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic||8-speed twin clutch automatic||8-speed automatic|
|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 (71-litre tank)||91 RON petrol (71-litre tank)||Diesel (67-litre tank)||91 RON petrol (67-litre 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 (litres)||311 (three rows in position), 704 (two rows in position) VDA||311 (three rows in position), 704 (two rows in position) VDA||571 (two rows in position), 782 (one row in position) VDA||571 (two rows in position), 782 (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|
|Turning circle (metres)||11.8||11.8||11.4||11.4|
|Length / width / height (mm)||4980 / 1975 / 1750||4980 / 1975 / 1750||4785 / 1900 / 1710||4785 / 1900 / 1710|
|Ground clearance (mm)||203||203||176||176|
|Towing capacity (kg)||2200kg||2200kg||2500kg||2500kg|
|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 245/60 R18 or 245/50 R20||Bridgestone Dueler HP 245/60R 18 or 245/50 R20||235/65 R17 or 235/60 R18 or 255/45 R20||235/65 R17 or 235/60 R18 or 255/45 R20|
|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
Based on a 300km preview drive – from Sydney to Canberra via Kangaroo Valley and across back roads and dirt trails – we can tell you the Hyundai Palisade is a big, comfortable, open-road cruiser.
It’s not going to win a cornering contest, even by large SUV standards. But it gets the job done without fuss and feels tied down better – and more sure-footed – than most other vehicles of this size and weight.
While other eight-seat SUVs are based on a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive 'ladder frame' chassis, the Hyundai Palisade is built like a car. That means its centre of gravity is lower, and the responses of the steering and suspension are more car-like because the feedback to the driver isn’t lost in translation through nobbly off-road tyres and lots of rubber bushings under the body.
These are the same attributes that appealed to many Ford Territory buyers. Indeed, those still looking for a replacement for the Ford Territory could find it in the Hyundai Palisade.
We are yet to test the Palisade in the daily grind, which is its most likely habitat. As with most media preview drives, we didn’t get to replicate suburban life with roundabouts, speed bumps, or shopping centre car parks.
But we can tell you once you break free from this environment, the Hyundai Palisade is a pleasant alternative to heavy duty 4WDs such as the Toyota Prado, Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol.
The suspension recovers well from bumps and doesn’t feel too floaty, the steering is well weighted, light and easy, the turning circle is decent for a car of this size, and the highway tyres (rather than all-terrains) are average to above average for quietness on most surfaces.
Surprisingly, the 20-inch wheels with low profile tyres were no less comfortable than the 18-inch wheels with more cushioned rubber. At least, on the roads we sampled.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder is the older Hyundai design paired to a conventional eight speed auto (and on-demand all-wheel-drive). It’s a smooth operator. The gear changes are intuitive and the engine is perky enough by class standards.
We got to sample the updated alloy version of the same engine in the Hyundai Santa Fe the next day and it felt more slightly more responsive, despite the similar power outputs. However that new engine is paired to an eight-speed twin-clutch auto. It’s a personal choice, but I prefer the Hyundai Palisade’s diesel engine and transmission combination.
On the open road we saw fuel economy average 7.0 to 8.0 L/100km in the diesel Palisade, though this figure would climb in city and suburban driving. We also got to sample the petrol V6 front-wheel-drive (all-wheel-drive is not an option with the petrol), which has plenty of grunt and is the quicker of the two options. However that extra performance comes at a price: we averaged 10 to 11L/100km on the open road, and this figure would climb in the city and suburbs.
Hyundai predicts seven out of 10 Palisades sold will be diesel, and it would be our pick between the two. That said, Toyota sells plenty of Klugers and Mazda sells plenty of CX-9s and they’re both petrol-only propositions.
Visibility all around is good thanks to the large window area and wide-view side mirrors. The preventative safety systems such as lane keeping and lane wander warning aren’t too intrusive.
However, the blind zone camera in the flagship model is a bit of a gimmick. Wide view mirrors and a quick head check are better than focusing on the instrument cluster, we reckon. Then again, this tech could be more useful in slow-moving traffic rather than at freeway speeds.
Other observations: the base model doesn’t get a power tailgate (standard on a sub-$30,000 Skoda hatch these days), and the 360-degree camera has been reserved for the dearest models only.
Towing isn’t a strong point, either. It’s capped at 2200kg (new Santa Fe can tow 2500kg) versus 3000kg to 3500kg from other models in this size and price range.
A full size spare tyre is a welcome addition, and the curtain airbags go all the way to the rear roof pillar.
On the surface the Hyundai Palisade should come up well in crash tests, however a lack of a centre airbag between the front seats could work against it since new criteria was introduced, that measures the injuries of both front occupants in a side impact crash.
Most other all-new models released in Australia this year – Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Kia Sorento and Toyota Yaris – have centre airbag protection and five-star scores. So it’s an unusual anomaly for it to be missing on Hyundai’s new family-focused SUV.
Overall, though, the Palisade is a pleasant family car and weekend getaway machine – as long as you don't want to venture too far off the beaten track.
The Hyundai Palisade will appeal to families who’ve outgrown their Hyundai Santa Fe or Ford Territory – and who don’t want to live with the compromises of a heavy duty 4WD in the daily grind.