The Hyundai Santa Fe XL is history and has now been replaced by a new flagship, the Palisade, for 2020. Apart from a longer wheelbase and being larger, higher and wider than its predecessor, this one is a knockout. We had the opportunity of first driving the midsize SUV on the curvy and hilly Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, before testing it on Tampa streets.
Available in a seven or eight-passenger configuration, the Palisade gets a sole powertrain: 3.8-liter V-6 engine pumping out 291 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 262 pounds-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm, more than adequate to climb the mountainous terrain of “America’s Favorite Drive.” The 8-speed auto gearbox with paddle shifters is immaculate, offering instantaneous up and down moves. The SUV is also fitted with an engine start/stop system, which turns the engine off at a halt to save fuel.
An independent MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension does a particularly good job of soaking bumps and potholes with skill in this front-wheel or all-wheel-drive ride. Also worth noting is the motor-driven power rack-and-pinion steering, effortless at higher speeds or while pulling into a parking lot. Also serving the overall efforts is 59 percent advanced high-strength steel and sound-damping materials that hold wind and road noise to a minimum.
The Palisade shows off a mammoth cascading Hyundai grille with ‘crocodile eye’ LED headlights, daytime running lights and turn signals. It comes standard with Hyundai SmartSense, which includes forward-collision avoidance, safe exit and lane keeping assist and smart cruise control. There also are 10 airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, vehicle stability/traction control, front/rear crumple zones, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.
Switch over to eco, comfort, smart and sport drive modes (snow and AWD lock for all-wheel drive) via a knob on the center console. Also offered are an eight-way power driver’s seat; 10.2-inch LCD touch screen for nav, phone and audio; 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; heads-up display; cooled/heated front and second-row Nappa leather seat which folds via a power button, as does the third row; dual sunroof; surround-view monitor; tilt/telescopic steering column; dual auto a/c; seven USB ports; and 16 cup/bottle holders, and more depending on the trim.
Base-priced at $31,550 and peaking at $44,700 (luxurious Limited), the Palisade is great value for the money. Don’t be deluded into believing that the mighty 4,387-pound vehicle lacks muscle. In fact, the gas pedal releases forceful but silent acceleration to make the Palisade an elegant, pleasing and easy-riding companion. And Hyundai’s five-year, 60,000-mile basic and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranties should convince you to sign on the dotted line.
You can test drive the Palisade at Brandon Hyundai, located at 9915 Adamo Dr. in Tampa. Visit www.brandonhyundai.com or call 296-6772.