Kids are expensive. Any parent, or even friend of a parent, knows this far too well. Whether it’s diapers, braces, new shoes, soccer equipment, or a shopping cart full of mac and cheese because that’s the only thing they’re eating this week, it all adds up. And even the most successful entrepreneur can only make so much money. And unless you’re in the very lucky upper one percent, odds are, money is going to matter big time. So that amazing salary that bought you an M3 when you are single, now has to be spread out across a wife and five dependents, and suddenly an $80,000 sports car is no where near your budget anymore thanks to four new iPads, a family wireless phone bill, the annual vacation in Disney World, and two new sets of braces. So, now it’s time for a new ride, and things like 0-60 mph time and horsepower ratings are of much less interest than seating capacity, and price.
Enter, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. After trying to massage, stretch and inflate the Sante Fe for a few years now, culminating in the largest Sante Fe XL, the Korean manufacturer decided to just scrap the old and start from scratch. This time around, they wanted a bonafide three-row (for adults) crossover SUV that could compete with the likes of the Honda Pilot and new Volkswagen Atlas. It also had to surpass the SUV it replaced, and with an overall length a full three inches longer than the outgoing Santa Fe XL, it looks as though the Palisade does all of those things just fine.
From the front, the Palisade resembles and Infiniti almost to the point of copyright infringement, yet its profile looks almost GM-like, and the rear appears to be a vintage/throwback Hyundai setup. All that is to say, we are still undecided on which way our vote goes in terms of external aesthetic appeal.
Inside, the Palisade does not induce any hesitation whatsoever. The combination of high end materials and a multitude of options make this SUV something special. There is full room for eight, yes eight, actual adults. Thanks to the power folding 3rd row seating and in-car intercom with rear seat conversation/sleep mode, it is easier than ever to make sure those farthest away don’t feel like they are on a separate trip from the rest of the group.
Although it still looks like more fun up front. The driver is treated to an optional fully digital instrument cluster and massive 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation/infotainment screen. Everyone on board gets treated to plush quilted Nappa leather seats, while the 2nd and 3rd row get their own USB ports to make sure everyone stays entertained. There is one-touch 2nd row seat access as well as a hands-free smart power lift gate with an automatic open available as well to facilitate even easier access.
Powering this big SUV will be an efficient, if not overly impressive 3.8-liter V6 that makes a solid 291-horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Not quite as good as that M3 you had to give up, but still, it will suffice to get you to volleyball practice and back. Backing up that power will be an eight-speed automatic transmission that will route power to either just the front wheels, or to all four corners in the AWD version. There will be six drive modes to choose from: Comfort, Sport, Sand, Mud, Snow and Eco — the last being the one we would bet on being used the most.
The Palisade comes with a host of safety features including things like adaptive cruise control with steering assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, and you guessed it, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. There is even a overview monitor and safe-exit assist, so Hyundai has everyone covered from just about every angle possible.
Official numbers are not out yet, but we expect the Palisade to best both the outgoing Sante Fe’s 18/25 city/highway mpg number as well as match or even potentially beat its base price of $31,895 for front wheel drive, and $33,645 for all-wheel drive models. But then, even if it doesn’t, the Palisade offers up a higher level of sophistication and comfort for a very affordable price — almost enough to make you forget that old Bimmer or how much guitar, piano and ballet lessons are going to cost you next month.