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The Hyundai Staria is launching soon, and we know that the Kona Electric will be following shortly. So it’s almost unbelievable that we’re now seeing pictures of the Hyundai Palisade in Malaysia, snapped by reader Haikal. The days of odd Hyundais popping up here for training purposes are gone, so this is legit.

While it still seems like an unlikely model for our market because the Palisade is a big and luxurious SUV – it will certainly be priced high, possibly setting a record for Hyundai in Malaysia – Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) announced in March that it will be launching the Palisade and Kona Electric here. The timeline given then was sometime in 2021, and there are just over two months left in this year.

So, the Staria in October, Kona Electric in November and Palisade in December? Sounds like a mad schedule, and hats off to HSDM if they pull this off.

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Following Hyundai SUV tradition by being named after a place in the US – time time it’s the Palisades in California – the Korean carmaker’s biggest and most plush SUV was first revealed in November 2018. Think of it as the brand’s version of the BMW X7.

Related to the Kia Telluride, the Palisade is a three-row SUV that seats either seven or eight, depending on chosen seat configuration. At 4,981 mm long and 1,976 mm wide, the Palisade is 211 mm longer and 86 mm wider than the Santa Fe, which is already larger than most midsize SUVs. The 2,900 mm wheelbase is 135 mm longer than the Santa Fe’s.

HSDM said in March that our Palisade will come with a 3.8 litre naturally aspirated V6 engine. The direct-injection Atkinson-cycle unit offers 291 hp and 355 Nm of torque, and is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and HTRAC AWD. The Palisade is offered in Indonesia with a 2.2 litre turbodiesel with 200 PS/441 Nm – the diesel would attract less road tax and its torquey nature would be a good fit for a big SUV, so the CRDi could well be an option.

HSDM would also have to choose between the seven- or eight-seat version, or both. Unlike midsize SUVs that cram in an optional third row of seats, the Palisade’s cargo area takes in 510 litres with all seats up. That’s bigger than in most sedans. Fold down the third row and there’s 1,297 litres of space back there.

Expect the premium SUV to come with 20-inch wheels, a digital 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster and the optional 10.25-inch central touchscreen (8.0 inch with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is the standard), ventilated seats, two sunroofs, wireless charger, triple-zone climate control with ioniser and Hyundai’s latest SmartSense ADAS safety suite.

Also expect the price to be much higher than the locally assembled Santa Fe, which tops out RM210k. Not only is the Palisade Hyundai’s flagship SUV, it’s a CBU import from South Korea and HSDM is likely to “go all out” with the specs as the price is going to be high in any case. We’re guessing a sticker price in excess of RM300k for this handsome big SUV that will stand out at the golf club.

GALLERY: 2021 Hyundai Palisade (US spec)