It’s official. Hyundai has finally unveiled its flagship premium three-row SUV, the Palisade, at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show. The huge SUV’s design doesn’t appear to veer too far off from the original Grandmaster concept, and it offers seating for up to eight individuals. The Palisade will be produced in Ulsan, Korea and will go on sale in the US from June 2019.

First, let’s talk design. The bulky SUV features a bold and powerful front fascia, thanks largely to the Cascading Grille that’s accented with thick surrounds. In sticking with its latest design language, the projector headlights (positioned below; LED lighting is optional) and slim, upper LED DRLs are separated.

It’s only when you view the side profile of the car that the Palisade’s actual size can be visually digested. Here, the large windows give a sense of space and panorama, and the near-flat roof tapers ever so slightly to a steeply-raked rear windscreen. Again, the D-pillars are well masked that they look almost nonexistent, placing more emphasis on the car’s overall size and spaciousness.

While we’re on the subject, the Palisade measures 4,981 mm in overall length, 1,976 mm wide, 1,750 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,900 mm. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the size of the Audi Q7, except the German SUV has a longer overall length and wheelbase (+71 mm and +94 mm respectively).

At the back, things are kept fairly neat with slim vertical LED tail lights and tasteful application of chrome garnishes. Besides the Hyundai badge and model name spelled out, there’s nothing much to distract the eyes. The SUV sits on 18-inch alloys shod with 245/60 tyres as standard, but owners can choose to upsize to 20-inch (245/50 rubbers) items.

The boxy design results in a coefficient drag of 0.33 (Cd), and this is achieved with a rear spoiler side garnish, an optimised front cooling area with extended internal air guide, aero underside panels (full front and centre underbody covers), and rear wheel aero deflectors.

Inside, the driver is greeted with a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and a fully digital 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster. Over in the centre, an eight-inch Display Audio system is standard, but you’d want the optional 10.25-inch widescreen display that supports two Bluetooth devices simultaneously – one for mobile phone connection and the other for audio streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities are standard across the board, though the larger display gets GPS navigation with traffic flow updates.

Further down the dash are the usual controls for media and HVAC functions, as well as access to Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive (AWD) system (more on this later). If you find the centre tunnel to be neater than usual, that probably has to do with the shift-by-wire ‘gearstick’ with automatic park logic that shifts the car into ‘P’ when the engine is off. This layout also frees up the centre tunnel, allowing for convenient storage space underneath.

Fabric seats are offered as standard, and the more premium quilted Nappa leather is optional. The second row seat features a one-touch tumble operation, allowing easy ingress and egress to the third-row seat. For added convenience, the third row can be had with power-folding/unfolding and reclining seats. Seven-seat models get captain seats with heating and ventilation for the second row.

Every Palisade gets seven USB charging outlets USB outlets for convenience for all passengers, as well as 16 cupholders and seatbelt notification for all seats. What’s more, a conversation mirror allows the driver to clearly see passengers in the rear, and there’s also a sophisticated Driver Talk in-car intercom system that allows the driver to communicate separately with passengers in the second or third row.

Another unique feature is the Rear Sleep Mode that lets the driver and front passenger listen to their own audio, without having it transmitted through the speakers in the second and third rows.

Speaking of speakers, the Palisade can be had with the premium 12-speaker, 630-watt Infinity audio system with Clari-Fi and QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology. The former works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally-compressed music, while QuantumLogic extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into a multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail.

Besides that, the large SUV features an industry-first vent diffuser design to provide a focused, partially diffused or filly-diffused air to rear passengers. Optional equipment include Qi wireless charging tray for mobile phones, sun visors with illumination, Blue Link connected car system, surround view monitor and powered sunroof.

Now, the Palisade is available with the sole direct-injected 3.8 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol V6 engine. It produces 291 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 355 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. According to the automaker, the Palisade offers more power than its closest rivals, namely the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer.

A good reason to buy a vehicle such as this is for its carrying capacity, and with all seat rows up, there is 510 litres of space available, which beats a lot of the Palisade’s competitors aside from the Explorer (595 litres) – behind the second row seats, there is 1,297 litres of space.

Power is put down to the ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission with a multi-plate torque converter. The Palisade can be had in both two-wheel and HTRAC AWD configurations, the latter developed as a multi-mode system with electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles.

The three drive modes – Normal, Sport and Smart – are said to provide a wider range of torque distribution variability than many competitive systems and have been tuned to conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- or high-speed cornering, and hill starts.

AWD models get the newly-developed Snow Mode with special traction tuning for winter driving. This optimises traction by adjusting front and rear torque distribution, left and right wheel slip control, engine torque and shift patterns according to available traction levels. The AWD HTRAC system also includes an AWD locking-differential function for grip-demanding situations.

For safety, the Palisade gets Hyundai’s SmartSense technology as standard, which bundles forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, blind spot collision-avoidance assist, lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, safe exit assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning and smart cruise control with stop and go. The Palisade also gets a class-exclusive Blind View Monitor, which complements blind spot collision-avoidance assist to provide easy-to-see side views whenever the turn signal is activated.

Additionally, there’s Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) that employs an ultrasonic sensor in the cabin to detect the movements of children and pets. If movement is detected after the driver leaves the vehicle and locks the doors, it will honk the horn and send an alert to the driver’s smartphone via Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system. The system is designed to prevent children and pets from being forgotten in the car, but it also helps in case children accidentally lock themselves in.

Standard on all models is Safe Exit Assist system – this uses radar to detect cars approaching from the rear and provides visual and acoustic warning when a passenger attempts to open the door. Even with electronic child safety lock deactivated, the system is capable of overriding it, and ensures that the rear doors remain locked until the approaching vehicle has passed.

Finally, the SUV can be had in Beckets Black, White Cream, Lagoon Silver, Steel Graphite, Sierra Burgundy, Moonlight Cloud and Forest Rain. Interior combinations include unique molding accent colours tailored to match the exterior combination. So, does the Palisade whet your appetite for huge SUVs?

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