Every so often a car comes along that transcends boundaries, and the Hyundai Palisade is one of them. It’s an eight-seater SUV - yes, eight-seater, which is as many as you can fit into a people mover van, but this is an SUV. So it will fit one extra person compared with cars like the Mazda CX-9 and Kia Sorento, but still looks decent.
There are two variants in the range which keeps things simple, I test drove the base model in petrol, which costs $60,000 before on road costs (it also comes in dieselAWD for an extra $4000).
Here’s how it did over the glorious, fun-filled two week Christmas and New Year in Sydney, with my family of four and I for this week’s family review.
There’s no denying the Palisade’s size. To fit eight people it needs to be big and Hyundai's done what it can to jazz up the very large proportions with an equally big grille and vertical headlights.
Hyundai's done what it can to jazz up the very large proportions with an equally big grille and vertical headlights.
Apart from that, it does feel quite unadorned. With a basic shape and angles. It’s not particularly fabulous looking, relying on sheer bulk to make an impression.
Inside is impressive for an eight-seater. Vans can be quite basic but this SUV has all the mod cons to make you feel good on the road. Even in the base model you get leather seats and a leather steering wheel, both feeling good to touch.
There’s a well designed centre console area with silver accents that is streamlined and simple. Everything is clearly set out and easy to use, making it functional as well as stylish.
It feels large in the front seat, there’s loads of leg and headroom even for taller passengers, and it’s such a wide car you’ll have no issue with jostling shoulders.
It feels large in the front seat.
The second row also has plenty of space. I have loads of space between my knees and the seat in front, and that's behind a taller person’s driving position, so there’ll be enough room for teenagers and other adults. My kids loved having so much space.
There's plenty of space in the second row.
You can actually opt for a seven-seat version of the Palisade, which gives you two armchairs in the second row, which looks more comfortable than a regular flat bench.
I haven’t tried it, but it looks great, complete with armrests! So if you know you definitely won’t use all eight seats that is the version to choose.
If you do go for the eight seats, you can fit three kids car seats across there, I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule. It’s a wide car.
You can fit three kids car seats across the back row.
The back row is more comfortable to climb into than almost any other seven-seat SUV I have tried because the middle row has room to properly move forward and give you the space to get in.
Once inside I have enough leg and head room to sit comfortably, I’m 161 cm (5'3"). Taller people might have an issue with head space, but leg space will be fine.
If you were to compare it to a van, I would say that vans are bigger for eight people, so cars like the Kia Carnival and Volkswagen Transporter do more easily fit eight adults than the Palisade.
But if it’s children you’re wanting to transport around then the Palisade will fit them. And if you’re comparing it to other seven-seat SUVs this big Hyundai has generous space.
With all three rows in use you’ll get 311L of space, and with the third row down, boot size ramps up to 704L.
The boot is also large. With all three rows in use you’ll get 311L of space which is big for an SUV with three rows. With the third row down, boot size ramps up to 704L and you’ll be able to fit loads of things in, from suitcases to double prams to sporting equipment.
One of the best things about the Palisade is the way it drives. I test drove the petrol version which has a 3.8-litre, six-cylinder engine, and the remarkable thing is that it doesn’t feel heavy on the take-off.
There’s not really any lag, which you would normally get in a seven-seat SUV, so that’s pretty great. The other thing is, it doesn’t feel too floaty, the steering is good and the car has nice precision while turning.
The petrol version has a 3.8-litre, six-cylinder engine.
This petrol version is a FWD and if you’re looking for an AWD you can choose the diesel variant.
This means that even though it’s a giant car, parking is not too bad, as long as you pick a park big enough. Even at the shopping centre it sticks out as one of the largest in the parking lot. There’s a good reverse parking camera with line guides to help you direct it into place.
It does use a bunch of fuel in the petrol version - a claimed 10.7L/100km and I averaged 15.8L over the two weeks of driving on city roads and highways.
One thing that is quite different to every other car I’ve driven is the lack of gear shifter. There are buttons for gears which work instantly so there’s no hesitating when you change gears.
Yes, it feels less like you’re driving the car, but I think we all gave that up when we gave up manuals, so this could be the next logical step.
It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which give you instant access to your phone's main apps for navigation and listening to music and podcasts. There are 12 speakers in the Palisade as standard, so the sound is good.
There’s a large 10.25-inch multimedia screen that looks very 2021.
The driver’s seat is power adjustable but not the front passenger seat on this model. There are three USB ports in the front and four more throughout the car.
For storage, you’ll get two cupholders in the front plus a small, deep storage spot in the centre (probably where the gear shifter would have gone!) which was a game changer for me. Other car companies should take note.
This little storage box makes so much difference and fits keys, sunglasses, phones, other cups, whatever you want it to. Then there’s a shelf underneath the centre console where I popped the cake I made for Christmas lunch to safely transport it there.
The driver’s seat is power adjustable but not the front passenger seat.
It was the perfect size, plus there's a large centre storage bin and bottle holders in the doors, so there’s lots of storage.
Second row passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest, plus two in each door, which means six cupholders in the middle row and there are directional climate control vents.
I did have a few instances where there were buzzing alerts going off in the car for no reason. For example, the seat belt alert buzzed for a good five minutes before we realised we needed to do the rear middle seat belt up that nobody was sitting in.
Sometimes it also gets the speed limit wrong and will buzz until you drive through what it thinks is a speed camera. It kept doing it on a particular spot on the way to my mum’s house where the speed limit was 80 but it thought it was 60. Teething issues, most likely.
You’ll get airbags throughout including side curtain airbags that go all the way to the back row. And there are five top tether points, plus three ISOFIX points to fix kids car seats in safely.
The Hyundai Palisade was a great family car over our Christmas and New year time off, with plenty of room inside for everyone and we could fit everything we needed into the boot including beach bags and boogie boards.
It looks good on the inside and feels much better to drive than a people mover van, so if you’re looking for an eight-seater but don’t want to sign up to van life, I would recommend giving the Palisade a try. The only real drawback was the fuel consumption and I look forward to the day when every car company releases a hybrid or electric version to choose from.
I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10 and my kids gave it the same. They loved all those extra seats.
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