When one buys a private jet, the broker will often ask, “What is your mission profile?” In other words, how far, how fast, and how many do you need to fly? Well, I had the perfect mission profile for the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. I needed to travel from Indianapolis to Normal, Illinois and back – six hours round-trip – to see a preview of the Rivian 400-mile electric pickup. It could have hauled seven, but it only hauled me. Far and fast were no problem.
Sleek Luxurious Style
Like the Rivian pickup and SUV with their LED lighting and sleek bodysides, the Palisade looks the part of a next-generation luxury liner. The front is definitely the Palisade’s calling card given a monstrous grille with curved satin silver surrounds, squinty driving lights above LED headlamps, and swooped accent lights. Bodysides are expansive, but rendered with deft creases and 20-inch wheels to diminish their visual heft. Around back, the gently sloping roofline and wrap-around glass imbue the elegance of a British wagon. The grille and multi-color taillamps are a bit much, but fit the Palisade’s extroverted personality.
Rivian went all out for leather-lined futuristic interiors with twin glassy screens, but holds nothing over the Palisade’s lush cabin. Our Limited-grade model was lavished with diamond stitched leather seats and door trim, sueded roof pillars, heated/ventilated front seats, heated/ventilated rear captain’s chairs, and a heated steering wheel. Sky opens through the dual pane sunroof. Crank up the 630w 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system connected to iThings with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Wireless charging keeps everything zapping along. Real adult humans can stretch out in the middle row, but can also fit with their legs intact in the rearmost bench.
Drivers find all they need in the cockpit, too. A flatscreen instrument cluster accompanies a wide infotainment touchscreen and head-up display for speed, safety systems, and navigation – very helpful when trying to find the Rivian preview location. Gears are selected via console push buttons while the driving modes are configured with a dial through Sport, Comfort, Econ, and Snow for the powertrain. I found Comfort best for normal journeys, though Sport’s red gauge outlines and more aggressive throttle setting were tempting. Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise with lane following, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, and Safe Exit Assist that alerts passengers to passing cars when exiting into traffic.
Impressive Range and Speed
The Rivian EV pickup can go 400 miles on a charge, zap 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, and tow 11,000 lbs. Yeah, the Palisade is not quite that potent. But, rev up the jets, or the 3.8-liter V6 that delivers a smooth 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, to get down the road. Power is shifted to the optional all-wheel-drive system though an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It can tow up to 5,000 lbs., but I carried nothing heavier than my laptop and notepad. Fuel economy rates 19/24-MPG city/highway.
Remove the badges and you’d think you’re driving a mid-size Range Rover. The four-wheel independent suspension and whisper quiet engine provide a drive that serene. As with most recent Hyundais, the Palisade reaches far above its price point to compete with the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, VW Atlas, Subaru Ascent, and Honda Pilot among others. A super reasonable base price of $31,550 rises to $47,495 for a crossover that fulfilled its mission profile perfectly.
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2019 Hyundai Palisade Limited
- Seven-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 3.8-liter V6, 8-spd auto
- Output: 291hp/262 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Space, Grace
- Towing: 5,000 lbs.
- Fuel economy: 19/24 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: West Point, GA
- Base/As-tested price: $31,550/47,495