2021 Hyundai Palisade Highlander Diesel: Car Review

Hyundai have finally, for the Australian market, released their Palisade. U.S. based and sourcing the name from the States, the Palisade is the step up from the Santa Fe. There’s a choice of seven or eight seats with no price difference between the two, a petrol at 3.8L or diesel at 2.2L, and the same driveline being petrol/front wheel drive or diesel/all wheel drive with torque split on demand.Pricing starts at $65K for the petrol FWD Palisade, $69,200 for the diesel version, $77,150 for the Highlander seven/eight seater with petrol and $81,350 for the diesel. Transmission is a standard eight speed auto for both engines.

It’s the diesel that should be the preferred choice if using the Palisade for its intended purpose. 147kW and 440Nm are the numbers from the 2.2L unit, and the torque is between 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm. Opt for the petrol and there’s 217kW and 355Nm. That, though, is at 5,200 rpm. Kerb weights nudge two tonnes, and makes economy an equation. We finished on 9.0L/100km on a 70/30 urban/highway mix, with Hyundai’s official combined figure saying 7.3L/100km for the diesel. For the petrol, it’s 10.7L, but use it on the school runs, 14.9L/100km is what should be expected. Towing? 2,200kg, says Hyundai, for both.To fit in seven or eight people and not have knees around ears, the Palisade rolls on a wheelbase of 2,900mm. Length is 4,980mm, and for shoulder room, it’s 1,975mm wide. headroom? Even with two sunroofs, it’s 1,750mm tall overall, and has 203mm ground clearance. This is for when the off-road dial in the centre console is used to switch between tarmac and off-road when Snow, Mud, and Sand get into the 245/50/20 rubber from Bridgestone’s Dueler range.Legroom in row three is 798mm, with 959mm of headroom. Shoulder room is 1,402mm. Centre row measurements are 1,077mm/1,019mm/1545mm. Up front and leg room is 1,120mm, with head and shoulder space at 1,060mm and 1,555mm. The driver’s space sees a floating centre console, with a small amount of storage space and a couple of charge points, with a storage bin on top also housing a charge point or two. On the inner section of the front seats are a USB point each. There’s a sliding cover ahead of the console storage and a wireless charge pad, complete with an outline for any handset that’s placed there. For the centre row there’s an extra 12V socket and for the third row a pair of USB ports and four cupholders.Palisade offers a kind of crossover between Santa Fe and the Genesis with a feature in the driver’s display. Although the main dials are analogue, there is a centrally located screen of 7.0 inches in size. This takes a camera feed from either left or right when indicating. There’s a hint of Kona EV as well, with the actual drive engagement via four press buttons at the upper end of the console, rather than a dial or a lever.Both middle and third row seats are manual in movement, and in the Palisade we were supplied by Hyundai Au, the third row was folded flat and there is a separate cover to protect the rear of the seats, and simultaneously provide a large cargo bay. 704L is the measurement with the third row folded and a still goodish 311L with the third row up. The exterior is noticeably yet not overtly American. There’s the Hyundai signature grille with a solid surround and a split level look for the very distinctive driving lights. They’re a pair of C shaped units that run from the bonnet to the bottom of the headlights that are situated in their own housing. It’s an impressive look and one that went from “hmmmm” to “that’s all right” very quickly. It’s also a look that caught the attention of many, with more than a few people sidling up to either eyeball the body or ask questions.There is a C motif at the rear but not quite as visible as the front end. Roofline-wise there’s a straight line from the A-pillar to the rear ‘gate, with a thick C-pillar not unlike that of the Carnival from Kia. There is chromework that provides a visual delineation too, with the rearmost window almost a separate insert and hints at the mooted ute from Hyundai. The overall proportions are pleasing and nicely balanced visually.

Get it on road and here the big Palisade impresses. It’s been said that Hyundai haven’t put the Palisade through an Aussie tuning process. It turns out that the setup is just fine as it is thank you very much. It’s an incredibly nimble thing, the Palisade, with more of a mid-sized car feel than it deserves. The steering, for example, is set to be just under three turns from side to side. This endows the Palisade with precision unexpected in a near five metre long SUV. Handling is superb thanks to a suspension setup that is compliant as needed, hard and sporting as needed, and comfortable across the board. It’s startling that it’s so right out of the box. It’s the same with the brakes; they’re intuitive to a T, with that instinctive knowledge of where the pedal is and the force needed for the appropriate stopping distance.If there is a “room for improvement” suggestion it would be for the engine. As good a unit the 440Nm 2.2L diesel is, the Palisade is designed to carry seven or eight people and it IS a bigger machine than the Santa Fe. We noticed that with four up and a bit of extra weight, the performance level dropped. Given the intent of the Palisade, something between the 2.2L and the larger powerplants available in the Genesis range, a unit with more torque wouldn’t be a bad idea.

One aboard and there is some good performance to be had though. The eight speed autos are as slick as they come, and the 2.2L diesel pulls well enough. It’s reasonably moveable but potentially not as quick as it could be, and brings the equation back to a bigger engine or a hybrid addition for torque.

Naturally there is no shortage of safety items on board, including the camera views when indicating. These can be set to soft-touch flash at three, five, or seven intervals. Or it can be turned off. AWT feels that in the interests of safety and to follow the legal requirements in regards to providing sufficient indication, the setting should be seven only.

Rain sensing wipers are standard, the rear wiper engages automatically on reverse, and driver aids like Trailer Sway Control and Hill Descent Assist as standard add extra peace of mind. Hyundai load up with the SafetySense suite, and it’s extensive.Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist – Rear, Blind-Spot View Monitor, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with camera and radar type and including Car/Pedestrian/Cyclist detection at City/Urban/Interurban operational speeds, High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist – Line/Road-Edge, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, Lane Following Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Occupant Alert – Advanced, Safe Exit Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go. Phew.Warranty is five years, with unlimited kilometres, and servicing is a capped price situation that can be found via your local dealer. Hyundai also offer a pre-paid service plan.

At The End Of The Drive. The Palisade Highlander is an absolute delight to drive, and absolutely family friendly. Where it’s positioned is a strange one, in one respect. Genesis. That brand is set up as a luxury aimed market, and the diesels are bigger in size and numbers for torque. Where the Palisade wins is on price and features, and space in comparison to the slightly smaller Santa Fe. In any case, it’s an impressive vehicle and will battle only prejudice against the Korean brands in its efforts to find a place in driveways.

 

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